Police charged 3,147 stalking suspects after opening 31,621 investigations – 9.95 per cent. The Crown Prosecution Service insisted this was a record total. But the proportion of suspects being charged is falling.
In the year to March 2019, suspects were charged with stalking in 2,780 cases out of 19,776 – a rate of 14 per cent. In the year to March 2018 the rate was 19 per cent.
Emma Moseley, of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said: “Research conducted by Sussex Stalking Support and the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research at the University of Bedfordshire indicates that around eight in 10 victims of stalking experience symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder.
“It is very common for victims to move home, change their careers, lose their relationships and social lives, and have significant financial impacts from being stalked, for years after the stalking has ended.
“It is vital that victims must be safeguarded and taken seriously by the criminal justice system.”
CPS analysis of stalking cases, sampled at random from across England and Wales, between April and June 2020, found 84 per cent involved complaints against former partners.
Three-quarters reported domestic abuse had previously occurred during the relationship.
Social media was cited as a significant factor in several cases, with offenders often creating multiple Facebook and Instagram accounts to get around being blocked by victims.
The Home Office has issued guidance to all police officers this month: “The investigating officer should consider whether to apply for an order at the start of every stalking investigation, whether in a domestic abuse context (such as stalking by a former intimate partner) or a case of so called ‘stranger stalking’.
“This allows for protection to be in place even if the case results in an acquittal.”
A CPS spokesman yesterday said: “We take these offences extremely seriously and have doubled the number of stalking prosecutions brought over the past five years.
“Improved reporting and training means more stalking or harassment offences are being recorded. Charges may be built into wider offending such as sexual assault, domestic abuse and communications offences.”
But the number of harassment prosecutions is falling, according to CPS insiders.