Cleveland PCC Coppinger with Tricia Bernal, Laura Richards and Durham PCC Ron Hogg
The mother of a woman who was the victim of stalking and harassment by her ex-partner who then murdered her has helped to deliver awareness training to officers.
Tricia Bernal, the mother of Clare Bernal, lost her daughter at the age of 22 after she was murdered by her ex-partner in Harvey Nichols department store in Knightsbridge in 2005.
Michael Pech had been harassing and stalking Clare. He shot her in the store where they both worked before he turned the gun on himself.
The training session, which was held today, Wednesday 4th February, at Cleveland Police Headquarters, was organised by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and run by Paladin – a national stalking advocacy service.
Durham Police PCC Ron Hogg attended and Northumbria PCC Vera Baird also supported the event.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger, said: "We’re very pleased to welcome Paladin and Tricia Bernal to Cleveland to deliver this training to our officers.
"Stalking and harassment forms part of the regional Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy and this training is part of our commitment to support individuals who have been subjected to such abuse.
"I would like to highlight to people who face stalking and harassment that there is help and support available to them, and encourage them to come forward and report it."
PCC Barry Coppinger and Acting Chief Constable Iain Spittal opened the event to over one hundred officers, staff and support services.
Guest speaker, Tricia Bernal, said: "Stalking is a hidden crime that is often misunderstood. My daughter Clare did not see herself as a stalking victim and therefore did not see herself in serious danger.
"In spite of Michael Pech's threat to kill it was inconceivable to all of us that he could carry out his threat. Stalking is all about losing power and control. When there is obsession and fixation in a relationship, the most dangerous time is when the relationship is over.
"I am here today to explain how a seemingly innocent situation can spiral out of control. Clare had dated Pech for three weeks. If it can happen to Clare it can happen to anyone."
Laura Richards, Chief Executive at Paladin, said: "Paladin, The National Stalking Advocacy Service, are delighted to be working with Cleveland Police delivering this important training on stalking.
"Cleveland Police and The Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland recognise the importance of police officers and staff being trained by specialists to understand stalking behaviours, how to identify online and offline risk and stalking legislation.
"We hope other police services and agencies follow suit. Working together we can ensure we keep victims safe."
Posted on Wednesday 4th February 2015