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Responding to the HMIC and HMCPSI Report – ‘Living in fear – the police and CPS response to harassment and stalking’, Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner and APCC Victims Lead Dame Vera Baird QC said:

6th July 2017

“This report highlights some significant current issues with the way that police throughout the UK, and the CPS, are dealing with harassment and stalking.

“Northumbria Police is committed to improving its response and I have been assured by the Chief Constable that recommendations made in the report will be fed into ongoing work which involves revisiting training and improving standards to provide the service the victims of harassment and stalking deserve.

“In particular there is concern over national police failures to properly identify and record dangerous stalking offences. Although some acts of stalking appear innocuous, such as sending flowers or cards, it is imperative that police recognise that can be part of a dangerously obsessive pattern of longlasting and harmful behaviour.

“HMIC also point to a lack of clarity about the definition of stalking so that protective stalking-specific powers – for example the power to search premises and seize evidence – are not used. Under recording stalking also makes it difficult for Police and Crime Commissioners to ensure that the most appropriate victims services are in place.

“HMIC rightly recommend the abolition of the frequently inappropriately used Police Information Notices, a measure officers are already looking to implement in Northumbria.   However, the effectiveness of introducing  Stalking Protection Orders will still depend on the police being able to better identify and record the crimes.

“The importance of a proper risk assessment should never be overlooked. Whilst often the harmful significance of apparently minor conduct is clearer to the victim than to officers, some victims will play down their concerns – they are not the experts. Police should take the views of the victim seriously in particular when they regard the behaviour as more serious than the officer, but they should form their own professional view where a victim may be under-estimating danger and act accordingly.”