Facts and Figures 

The Crime Survey of England and Wales 2015 found that 4.9% of women and 2.4% of men reported experiencing stalking in the previous year. 

This equates to 734,000 women and 388,000 men - making stalking as pervasive as domestic abuse. Violence has been estimated to occur in around 30% of stalking cases and is also considered a significant risk factor in the lead up to domestic homicides. 

Research suggests that 55% of stalking perpetrators go on to reoffend, and 36% had a previous conviction for harassment.  

Through research into charged stalking cases, both the Met and Hampshire police forces have identified that half of stalking offenders have underlying mental health needs.

In 40-50% of cases of stalking there has been an intimate relationship between the victim and the perpetrator, and some of these victims can access some support through domestic violence services; the remainder are classed as ‘non-ex-intimate’ and have little support. 

  • According to the Ministry of Justice between 2012 and 2015, 1975 people were prosecuted under the ‘stalking law’ (S2A PHA Offences (Stalking with fear/alarm/distress); S4A PHA Offences (Stalking involving fear of violence); S4A PHA Offences (Stalking involving serious alarm or distress)) the amendments to the Protection from Harassment law and 1273 were convicted. 

In 2015/16

  • 481 prosecuted under Section 2A PHA, 335 convicted: 70% conviction rate. 
  • 74 prosecuted under Section 4A PHA fear of violence, 45 convicted: 61% conviction rate. 
  • 225 prosecuted under Section 4A serious alarm/distress, 149 convicted: 66% conviction. 

 

Police recorded crime by offence (stalking)

  • April 14 – March 15 = 2,879 
  • April 15 – March 16 = 4,156 

 

Percentage of recorded stalking cases reaching conviction: 12.7% 

 

CPS recording of stalking and reaching first hearings: 

Domestic Abuse Flagged Harassment and stalking offences charged and reaching a first hearing in magistrates’ courts 

2010 - 2011 

2011 - 2012 

2012 - 2013 

2013 - 2014 

2014 - 2015 

Family Law Act 1996 

Breach a non-molestation order - Family Law Act 1996 

4262 

4333 

4414 

5584 

6294 

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

Harassment without violence 

4822 

4710 

4217 

5257 

6242 

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

Harassment - put in fear of violence 

1423 

1056 

775 

952 

1225 

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

Stalking with fear / alarm / distress 

0 

0 

52 

384 

471 

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

Stalking involving fear of violence 

0 

0 

8 

49 

98 

Protection from Harassment Act 1997(a)(b)(ii) and (5) } 

Stalking involving serious alarm / distress 

0 

0 

7 

83 

194 

Protection from Harassment Act 1997 

Harassment - breach of a restraining order on conviction 

3962 

6163 

7154 

8761 

10796 

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

Harassment - breach of a restraining order after acquittal 

93 

202 

220 

245 

336 

 

Current Approach 

At present, stalking is primarily dealt with through the criminal justice system. However, there is considerable academic research (Mullen, P.E., James, D.V., Meloy, J.R., Pathé, M.T., Farnham, F.R., Preston, L., Darnley, B, McEwan, T.E., MacKenzie, R.D) to show that stalking perpetrators have a fixation/obsession with their victims, which restraining orders or even imprisonment do nothing to address. The National Stalking Helpline has worked with victims whose perpetrators have continued to stalk them from prison, and others whose stalkers have immediately returned to stalking behaviours within hours of being released from custody (even after three or more custodial sentences for breaching restraining orders).   

 

Due to the high level of mental disorder and distress associated with stalking, it could also be considered to fall within the auspices of the mental health system.  It is recognised that legal sanctions in isolation can be ineffective in preventing stalking as, in the absence of intervention, the fundamental problems motivating the stalking behaviour remain unaddressed and therefore unresolved.  

Future Solutions 

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust is looking to build on best practice nationally and internationally to imbed multi-agency working into managing stalking cases and to assess whether risk and re-offending can be reduced. This would produce efficiencies across the criminal justice system and mean that fewer victims of stalking experience serious mental or physical injury. 

Aside from assessing the impact in respect to the victim and the offender, consideration should also be given to the impact that intervention could have in terms of cost savings for the police.  By effectively treating perpetrators and thereby directing future cases away from the court system, a reduction in reoffending rates should be achieved, we can argue there would be considerable cost savings. 

Multi-disciplinary Involvement 

We believe it is essential to draw upon the learnings in mental health trusts and from pilot programmes in perpetrator treatment that have taken place in Melbourne and New York to gain insight into what is effective and what is less so.   

It is our belief that a multi-agency approach to stalking, with the option of referring perpetrators for intervention, results in lower reoffending rates, lower risk, and increased wellbeing for victims.  Suzy Lamplugh Trust see great value can be obtained by looking to partner with agencies that would include the police, stalking clinics and mental health clinics as well as probation services.  There are also significant benefits to be gained from the involvement of community services who work in the field of substance misuse, anger management or developing positive relationships. 

Conclusion 

Stalking is a crime of fixation and obsession that can last for years. Cases such as those of Tracey Morgan, Claire Waxman, Eleanor Aston, Imre Marton, to name just a handful, show that, even when all the civil and criminal options are acted upon, it is sometimes not enough to stop a stalker from offending. Treatment of the obsessive behaviour is needed to break the cycle.  Without intervention, we see significant levels of reoffending which burdens the police and criminal justice system with significant time and financial commitments.  A new approach is needed to try and interrupt the cycle of offending and Suzy Lamplugh Trust is committed to spear-heading this.