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Working without fear

Addressing the potential issue of stalking in the workplace is set to be the focus of many employers and employees this month.

April 24th marks National Stalking Awareness Day and the charity Suzy Lamplugh Trust is launching a new Working Without Fear campaign to coincide with the event and get its message across.

The organisation has already produced a guide for companies to educate them on why it is important to put policies in place to support staff who may be struggling with the problem, with those interested able to download it online from the National Stalking Helpline's website.

Also included in the literature is advice on how business leaders can effectively deal with disclosures of stalking from any of their personnel and what appropriate action should be taken in response.

What is stalking?

While there is no legal definition of stalking, the Crown Prosecution Service has defined the act as "curtailing a victim's freedom, leaving them feeling that they constantly have to be careful." 

The offending behaviour has to be carried out repeatedly to amount to stalking and can include behaviour such as contacting a person either directly or indirectly, loitering at a particular location or spying on a victim.

Often, the workplace is targeted by stalkers because it can be easier to access their victim and cause them distress, which is why employers are the focus of this latest campaign. 

While personnel are carrying out their daily duties in the office, businesses take on a level of responsibility to look after their welfare - so it is important to be able to recognise when such a problem may be occurring.

According to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, one in five women and one in ten men experience stalking during their lives. Sometimes offenders are clients or colleagues the victims have met as part of their job, while others are complete strangers who they may have encountered in their day-to-day lives.

The charity's director Rachel Griffin said: "Of those stalkers who are not [known to their victim through their job], 50 per cent will still present themselves at the victim’s workplace. This creates risk not only for the victim, but also their colleagues or manager who may have to interact with the stalker if they do turn up to the premises."

Raising awareness

Once employers have a better understanding of how stalking can affect an employee's wellbeing, policies can be put in place and action can be taken to offer them support. For example, guards may be briefed on how to put potential victims' minds at ease and how to deal with sensitive situations in the right manner.

A Working Without Fear conference - which is free to attend - is being held in London on National Stalking Awareness Day, with speakers offering advice on the key issues around the problem.

It is hoped the day will prove to be a valuable resource for HR managers, security officers, support workers, the police and business leaders.

Specific topics to be covered include how to assess risk, what the law is and how it can protect victims, and understanding the stalking experience.

Posted by Julie Tucker

Image by Thinkstock

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