POLICE in East Lancashire are raising awareness of the 'devastating consequences' of stalking.

It comes as police forces around the country marked National Stalking Awareness Day today which focused on stalking in the workplace.

Lancashire's police and crime commissioner Clive Grunshaw said stalking can have life changing consequences for victims.

The police boss said the workplace should be a place of refuge and safety but one in 20 callers to the National Stalking Helpline are stalked by a colleague or ex-colleague.

He said: "Everyone has the right to work without fear, and that is why I am supporting the drive to raise awareness of stalking in the workplace.

"Stalking is a crime the police take seriously – and if you, or anyone you know is a victim I would urge you to come forward and report it."

In November 2012 amendments to the Protection from Harassment Act were made meaning stalking is now a specific criminal offence in England and Wales.

Stalking is not legally defined but the amendments include a list of example behaviours including, contacting or attempting to contact, publishing statements or material about the victim, monitoring the victim (including online), loitering in a public or private place, or interfering with property, that amounts to harassment.

One in five women and one in 10 men are stalked at some point in their life.

Detective Chief Inspector Sue Cawley from Lancashire Constabulary said: “Stalking can have devastating consequences and can escalate to other more physical crimes.

“Nearly half of stalkers will present at their victim’s workplace but changes to the law enable us to deal with such reports much more effectively.

“Here in Lancashire we are fully supporting the awareness day and are committed to tackling the problem of stalking and offer as much support as possible to the people affected."

Anybody with concerns about stalking should call 101 or the National Stalking Helpline 0808 802 0300.

For further advice and support log onto www.stalkinghelpline.org/faq/about-stalking