Tougher powers urged to stop stalking turning to violence

Anti-stalking laws should be strengthened to stop cases leading to violence, rape and murder, a series of charities said today.

A stalkers’ register should be set up, with police given specialist training to identify victims and deal with offences.

Up to five million people a year suffer from stalking or harassment and many victims will experience up to 100 incidents before talking to the police, British Crime Survey figures show.

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The call for tougher Government action comes as the first national stalking awareness week, urging victims to “Name it. Report it. Stop it”, is launched in London.

Protection Against Stalking, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and the Network for Surviving Stalking said the offences destroy victims’ lives.

Laura Richards, director of operations for Protection Against Stalking, said: “Stalking is where domestic violence was 20 years ago, which is why this awareness campaign is so important.

“Some cases lead to violence including rape and murder. Early intervention in a stalking case is vital and gives the victim the best chance of protection.”

The charities called for police to have “proper search powers for stalkers’ property” and for more action to tackle cyberstalking.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan, the lead on stalking and harassment for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said: “It is important to remember that stalking isn’t a ‘one-off’ crime. It’s a series of incidents which when taken in isolation can appear trivial but when put together they become far more sinister.

“The challenge for the police service and other agencies is to protect victims by recognising the danger signs, by effective use of legislation and by effective and co-ordinated investigation.”