A NEW campaign to highlight the dangers of stalking has been launched by North Yorkshire Police.

According to the force's No Matter How Small campaign, 96 per cent of victims are stalked by someone they know, 55 per cent by former partners, and often experience more than 100 incidents before reporting it to the police.

Research also suggested 94 per cent of women murdered by men in the UK were stalked in the year leading up to their deaths, and the force's campaign - which will launch on Monday and runs until the end of March - aims to help the public recognise different types of stalking, and recognise signs they or others could be in danger.

In North Yorkshire, 132 stalking crimes and 1,347 harassment crimes were recorded in 2018, with risks posed to victims considered significant, due to the nature of the offending and the motivations of the perpetrators.

The campaign has been developed with The National Stalking Helpline, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, and Paladin National Advocacy Service, and the message to encourage people to seek advice is that "no matter how small it may seem. Speak to someone".

Detective Superintendent Allan Harder, head of safeguarding at North Yorkshire Police, said "stalking thrives on secrecy", and it was vital that concerns were shared, as "by telling someone we can give you the help and support you need".

He said: "There are numerous misconceptions about stalking with many people not realising the devastating impact it has on its victims. It is not romantic; it is about fixation and obsession. It is an extremely serious crime and it can, and does, escalate to rape and murder.

"Victims of stalking are often vulnerable and have frequently suffered the actions of perpetrators over a long period of time. Many are survivors of domestic abuse, who leave coercive and controlling relationships only to become the victims of an extension of this behaviour by way harassment and stalking. Our ‘No matter how small’ campaign seeks to send a message to victims and witnesses that we want them to come forward at the earliest stage with any concerns, even if other people would consider them to be trivial or insignificant."

The force has adopted a new procedure for how it responds to stalking and harassment reports, and new training for officers and staff will be rolled out across the force in coming months.

Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said: "Improvements in this area of policing are welcome, and I am pleased there is now a concerted effort to put better support in place for victims, and better training for better investigations.

"Having spoken to and supported many victims of stalking over the years, it is a crime which can have a devastating and long term impact on lives. There is never a bad time to come forward to the police, but if this campaign can highlight that stalking can start in relatively inconspicuous ways, it may open victim’s eyes to come forward sooner and prevent the case developing into something more serious."