Is stalking awareness in Gloucestershire moving forward?

The father of a girl who was stabbed to death by an ex-partner has called for a stalking specialist to enter No.10.

Nick Gazzard, is one of the founders of the Hollie Gazzard Trust, created after his daughter Hollie was murdered following persistent stalking and harassment from her ex. He thinks it’s important to increase awareness nationally and prevent stalking crimes from happening in the first place.

“There’s still not the awareness around on what stalking is especially in younger age groups… There needs to be someone at top level who can specialise in this area and can concentrate on raising this awareness.”

It’s National Stalking Awareness Month and hundreds of young people still don’t know when they are being stalked because they’re unaware of the signs. More education on the topic needs to be raised and the month is an annual call to action to recognise and respond to the serious crime of stalking.

According to the Hollie Gazzard Trust website: ‘In Gloucestershire, around 51,643 women aged 16+ and 19,524 males aged 16+ will have experienced stalking at some point in their lifetime in Gloucestershire.’

The topic of stalking is vastly under-reported and as well as trying to prevent stalking, Nick says more should be done to make support accessible for everyone affected.

“We need more financing to support victims of stalking. For example in Gloucestershire we never had a response in stalking, the Police didn’t know how to handle it and we didn’t have an organisation to go to… We need more investment around the 44 forces around the country and in police and crime commissioners.”

Although there is a lot more to be done in terms of stalking awareness, Nick talked about what their Trust does to bring something new to Gloucestershire and move awareness further forward.

“When Hollie was murdered, what we were trying to do is fill some sort of gaps in services and not duplicate what is already out there.”

What does Hollie Gazzard Trust organisation do?

The Trust raises awareness following the murder of 20-year-old Hollie Gazzard by her ex-partner, as set up by her parents and close friends.

They aren’t a support service but aim to educate people, particularly young adults, on the signs of stalking to positively influence their lives and prevent it from escalating.

In Hollie’s case, the stalking and harassment from her ex went too far and ended up in her death. The founders aim to stop the same horrible thing from happening to anyone else and educate people on the topics of extreme stalking, domestic violence and knife crime.

The Trust also owns an app called Hollie Guard which allows users to shake their phone to send their location and audio/video evidence to emergency contacts if the user feels in danger.

How have politicians in Gloucestershire got involved in stalking awareness?

Following an incident in Gloucester where GP Dr Eleanor Aston was the victim stalking for seven years from her 75-year-old patient, Cheltenham’s MP Alex Chalk backed a new Stalking Protection Bill.

Now with longer prison sentences to the criminals and more protection for victims of stalking, and Cheltenham MPs campaign being supported by several charities and organisations in Gloucestershire, the awareness of stalking is certainly moving the right way.

Characteristics to look for if you think you’re being stalked

Persistent phone calls, text messages or letters
Waiting at home, neighbourhood or workplace
Manipulative behaviour
Threats and violence
Cyberstalking
Breaking in to your home or car
Giving unsolicited gifts

If you’re worried about stalking but you’re not sure if you’re a victim or not, read more about the signs of stalking and harassment and what to do on http://www.protectionagainststalking.org/

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