Scotland’s biggest health board, with more than 44,000 employees, is the first health authority in the country to launch a stalking policy.
The move by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) follows a number of incidents where episodes of unwanted and intrusive contact has been made with staff.
These have involved, for instance, individuals being trailed or followed, secretly photographed, harassed over a period with physical damage to their property.
A top level working group, including Strathclyde Police Domestic Abuse Task Force and Scottish Campaigner of the Year 2010, Ann Moulds of Action Scotland Against Stalking, have developed the policy to tackle the stalking of NHSGGC staff.
Ann Moulds said: “I would like to extend my congratulations to NHSGGC for acknowledging this serious form of violence and potentially dangerous crime within the workplace and for setting a precedent of how stalking should be dealt with within organisations.
“Workplace stalking frequencies have without doubt been underestimated. The structure of the working environment can make it easier for a stalker to track and pursue their victim with relative ease.
“This is an excellent policy which will allow for early identification of stalking cases, staged interventions through ongoing case management thereby offering the victim protection and support.”
Dr Anne MacDonald, a consultant forensic psychiatrist and member of the working group, said: "Stalking in the workplace is a highly disturbing unwanted intrusion on a person's life which can be expected to affect their work, those they work with, and their social network. The new Board policy gives stalking a name, and offers a language and a framework for action which takes it into the realm of "this is what this is, and this is what we do about it" which should reduce its adverse impact. This accessible policy promises to be a sturdy companion and reference point for all staff and is most welcome."
Stalking is a form of predatory behaviour or targeted violence taking place over time.
Each individual act may not be illegal or seem worthy of note in itself, but the pattern represents a threat which is naturally alarming, if not terrifying.
Kenneth Fleming, NHSGGC Head of Health and Safety, said; “This new policy will raise awareness of the issue amongst staff, managers and human resources personnel and provides guidance and a framework for recognising stalking, supporting staff affected and provides managers with the know-how to safely manage any incidents which are affecting their staff.”
The new policy outlines a long list of behaviours which managers can use to identify behaviours which are considered to be stalking. They range from unwanted physical or sexual harassment and property damage to less obvious forms of stalking such as whispering and rumour campaigns and the manipulation of others against a particular individual.
The policy also outlines measures to support staff, particularly if they are lone workers, who are being stalked including mentoring, the training of line managers to recognise and manage the risk. A “buddying-up” system when an individual is going about their work and GPS tracking technology are also tools which can be used particularly if a member of staff is a lone worker.
For more information contact either NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde Communications on 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]