Thousands of stalking crimes recorded in Nottinghamshire

Thousands of stalking crimes have been recorded in Nottinghamshire in recent years – but few victims will see their stalkers punished, figures suggest.

By Joanna Morris, Data Reporter
Wednesday, 30th March 2022, 11:28 am

Home Office data shows police forces across England and Wales recorded nearly 100,000 stalking crimes in 2020-21, including 891 in Nottinghamshire.

Nottinghamshire Police have recorded 2,490 such offences since records began in 2014-15, including 430 between April and September 2021, the latest available figures.

Detective Chief Inspector Joanna Elbourn, stalking prevention lead for Nottinghamshire Police, said: “We understand the very significant impact these kind of offences can have on victims and will always do whatever we can to help. When cases of stalking are reported to us our priority as police officers is to understand the level of threat posed, safeguard victims from harm and stop these behaviours from happening again.

Nationally, 98,544 stalking offences were reported to police in 2020-21.

“In order to do that we take a very proactive, intervention-based approach – arresting and interviewing suspects to send a very clear message about their behaviour.

Where there is evidence we will seek to pursue charges and other positive outcomes, which also include cautions and Stalking Prevention Orders.

“However, one of our biggest challenges when it comes to stalking offences is the reluctance of some victims to come forward and seek help. Some may not want to involve the police, whilst others may not actually be aware that the behaviours they are experiencing amount to stalking.

“Our message to them is simple – if you are concerned about somebody’s behaviour towards you then please contact the police. We are here to listen and we will take action to stop this very destructive crime.”

Nationally, 98,544 stalking offences were reported to police in 2020-21 – the first year of new guidance requiring all cases of harassment reported between ex-partners to be recorded as stalking, unless the police were satisfied stalking was not a factor.

In comparison, there were 33,006 stalking crimes the previous year.

Forces across England and Wales had already recorded 60,000 offences in the six months to September 2021.

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for stalking and harassment, said improved police response, increased reporting and more understanding of the extent of stalking behaviour had contributed to the rise in recorded crimes.

However, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust said, while recent changes in law and procedures may have influenced the stark rise, stalking remains significantly under-reported.

The anti-stalking charity and the NPCC urged victims to report their experiences and access support.

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However, separate figures show many victims are unlikely to see justice done.

In January 2020, the Government introduced stalking protection orders, which place conditions on a stalker’s behaviour.

Figures for the first year of the new powers show Nottinghamshire Police applied for 22 SPOs, although only 13 were issued.

Different Home Office figures show 664 – 72 per cent – of stalking cases closed by the force during 2020-21 were dropped due to difficulties gathering evidence, while 108, 12 per cent, resulted in a charge or summons.

Mr Mills said: “Stalking and harassment are serious crimes which can have a devastating effect on victims.

“Police are committed to doing everything possible to bring offenders to justice.”

Violet Alvarez, from the trust, said the charity was dealing with more distressed clients requiring greater support since the outbreak of Covid-19.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: “The Government takes its response to stalking seriously and we have tripled our funding to the National Stalking Helpline, introduced SPOs and doubled the maximum sentence for stalking from five to 10 years.”

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