New Stalking Project Launched Women’s Aid Leicestershire have launched a new Project to support victims of stalking. The FREE from FEAR Project is the only project of this kind in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland. Stalking is unwanted attention and harassment that can take many forms. It is one of the most frequently experienced forms of abuse. Stalking is a pattern of repeat and persistent unwanted behaviour, when one person becomes fixated or obsessed with another and the attention is unwanted. It can be terrifying and can escalate, leading to loss of life. It is a crime and destroys lives. Home Office figures show that in 2014-15 there were 2,882 recorded offences of stalking across England and Wales and by 2017 that figure had climbed to 10,214, but the figure is likely to be much higher than this and increasing when you include victims who have not reported. Pamela Richardson, CEO of WALL stated, “We are sadly aware of cases where there has been loss of life and it is important for people to know that support is now available. FREE from FEAR Project will offer support and advocacy for victims aged 13+ and will also raise awareness and run training sessions for professionals so that they can recognise the signs.” There is widespread support for the Project. Lord Willy Bach, the Police & Crime Commissioner for Leicestershire, stated that it was imperative that victims of stalking received appropriate support services. “Stalking is a serious crime that can lead to serious psychological and physical harm and tragically even death,” he said. “Victims can be traumatised by their experience for a very long time and it is essential that they are appropriately supported. I have been clear from the outset that I want to see appropriate support services for victims of crime and that includes those subjected to stalking. That’s why I agreed to provide funding for this pilot and I’m delighted to see things are moving ahead swiftly.” Sue Hills from The Alice Ruggles Trust stated, “We are delighted that this project has been launched in Leicestershire. It is essential that victims of stalking can access support from professionals with experience of dealing with this insidious crime and we are particularly pleased that one of the aims is to raise awareness, so that both professionals and the general public realise that this crime is not only seriously distressing but can also be extremely dangerous.” DI Mark Ringrose from Leicestershire Police stated, “We understand the impact that stalking can have on victims; it causes considerable distress and really affects the lives of those that suffer it. We are working with the CPS and police forces nationally, and regionally to ensure we support victims and bring perpetrators to justice. The recruitment of a specialist support worker will mean that victims in Leicestershire get local support throughout their journey and that will prove invaluable.” Support or information can be requested by calling 07966 391823 or by emailing [email protected].