Wednesday, 15 August 2012

How big is the problem of stalking in the UK.....? (Part 1)

Defining the size of the crime of stalking in the United Kingdom (2012)

The following two articles will provide some statistical and anecdotal evidence as to the size and impact of the stalking phenomenon in the United Kingdom. At the time of writing, stalking has not as yet been adopted as a specific, stand-alone crime by the UK criminal justice system. However it will be defined as a stand-alone criminal offence in November 2012. Currently, the crime of stalking in the UK is technically known as the crime of harassment.

Whilst statistical analysis has been conducted purely in relation to the UK, statements provided to me by a large number of stalking and cyberstalking victims globally, provides anecdotal evidence of similar trends in other jurisdictions.

These articles consider and comment briefly on the following aspects of stalking, cyberstalking and harassment in the UK:
  • Prevalence
  • Occurrence
  • Statistical observations
  • Gender observations
  • Economic costs to stalking victims
  • The many and varied impacts of stalking on its victims
  • Commonly recognised obsessive character traits of stalkers and cyberstalkers
  • The occurrence of stalking of victims friends, family and associates by the perpetrator
  • Typical start and end points of stalking campaigns
  • Priority requirements for victims (as defined by victims)
  • Societal responses
  • Statistical observations on the response of the UK Police to stalking


  • Stalking type behaviours can at first glance seem normal and ordinary, however, when they are repeated they can be menacing and cause alarm and distress to the victim. When seen in context they are usually sinister and constitute harassment
  • Irrespective of whether a victim experiences significant alarm and distress, the motivation behind stalking is always sinister and often displays criminal intent
  • Stalking is a crime of power, control and intimidation
  • Stalking in any form, irrespective of the typology and/or motivation is abhorrent and an infringement of the victim’s fundamental human rights
  • Some noted mental health professionals believe that stalkers can be treated, given the right context, however it is difficult to persuade most stalkers to undergo psychological or psychiatric analysis as they don't believe that they are doing anything wrong
  • The stalker’s view of reality is typically so distorted that they see themselves as lone heroic figures, spurned lovers or wronged employees battling for justice
  • Any reaction to the unwanted abusive advances of a stalker only provides gratification to the stalker and thus serves to reinforce the stalking behaviour

Stalking and harassment

Stalking and harassment is behaviour:
  • That is intended by the perpetrator
  • That is repeated by the perpetrator
  • That is unwanted by the victim 

UK crime reference and general stalking statistics

  • 8% of women and 6% of men are stalked every year
  • 19% of women and 12% of men have experienced stalking or harassment at some point in their lives
  • 70% of domestic violence homicide victims were stalked
  • 1 in 5 women will be victims of stalking at some point during their lifetime
  • 1 in 10 men will be victims of stalking at some point during their lifetime
  • The average number of people directly affected in a stalking case is 21. Such persons included: the victim's children, the victim's partner's parents, strangers, the victim's neighbours, and the victim's work contacts
  • There are an estimated 250,000 new stalking cases reported in the UK every year
  • On average a victim experiences over 100 incidents before reporting it to the police - in other words, those cases that are reported to the Police are usually extremely serious and already representative of a sustained attack
  • 37% of cases of ‘aggravated stalking’ (stalking with violence) against women were carried out by ‘an intimate’
  • 59% of cases of ‘aggravated stalking’ (stalking with violence) were carried out by people known to the victim 
  • 7% of cases of ‘aggravated stalking’ (stalking with violence) were carried out by a stranger
  • 45% of stalking offenders turn violent
  • Over 50% of stalking starts before the victim leaves the home
  • The average age of victims at the start of a stalking campaign is 33 years
  • Methods of stalking include defamation of character and identity theft
  • Typically, stalkers will employ a diverse range of tactics and will only very rarely engage in a single stalking activity


The next article will particularly deal with research based evidence of the impacts of cyberstalking and stalkings attacks / campaigns; along with societal responses and the typical responses of the UK Police and the UK criminal justice system.

Please feel free to contribute to the discussion and/or to ask questions or ask for assistance via the comments section below, or privately and confidentially via the contact page on my website 

I hope that this post has been of some assistance to you. Stay strong!

Best regards

Andie Steele-Smith

Reference sources and further reading

  1. British Crime Survey 2004 - Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking: Findings from the British Crime Survey Sylvia Walby and Jonathan Allen - Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate March 2004
  2. University of Leicester Research into Stalking in the UK and the US - September 2005 (in conjunction with the Network for Surviving Stalking)
  3. Hoffmann, J. and Sheridan, L. (2008). Stalking, threatening and attacking business representatives. In Meloy, J. R., Sheridan, L., and Hoffmann, J. (Eds.). (2008). Stalking, threatening and attacking public figures. New York: Oxford University Press.
  4. Flatley, J. et al (eds.) (2010). Crime in England and Wales 2009/10. Home Office Statistical Bulletin 12/10.

  5. Harris, J. (2000). An evaluation of the use and effectiveness of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Home Office Research Study 203.
  6. Boon, J.C.W. and Sheridan, L. (Eds.). (2002). Stalking and psychosexual obsession: Prevention, policing and treatment. Chichester: Wiley.
  7. Joint Committee on Human Rights (2003b). Third Report, Scrutiny of Bills: Progress Report, HL 23/HC252 2003/04. London: HMSO. [includes scrutiny of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004]

  8. Protection Against Stalking
  9. The Network for Surviving Stalking
  10. Suzy Lamplugh Trust
  11. Bocij, Paul. Cyberstalking : Harassment in the Internet Age and How to Protect Your Family. Praeger Publishers, 2004. (ISBN 0-275-98118-5) 
  13. Crime in England and Wales 2010/11 - Findings from the British Crime Survey and police recorded crime (2nd Edition) Edited by: Rupert Chaplin, John Flatley and Kevin Smith July 2011 HOSB:10/11

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