Shropshire Star

Revealed: Harassment and stalking cases on the rise in Shropshire

There were more than six stalking and harassment cases every day across Telford & Wrekin and Shropshire over the last year, new figures have revealed.

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There were 1,407 cases of stalking, harassment or malicious communications reported in Shropshire last year, and another 1,293 in Telford between July 2017 and June 2018.

Of the three crimes included in the figures stalking is the most serious.

The crime can include following someone, repeatedly going uninvited to their home and monitoring their use of phones and computers.

In Telford and Wrekin reported stalking and harassment offences have increased by 36 per cent since 2015/16, while in Shropshire the figures have increased by 30 per cent over the same period.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Purcell, policing lead for Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, said: “Stalking and harassment can cause victims immense physical, psychological and emotional harm and it is important victims feel they can come forward and report this to police.

“We take stalking and harassment incredibly seriously and would encourage anyone who has been a victim to come forward as there are measures we can put in place to help protect them.

"This can include issuing a notice to the offender warning them not to get in contact – if they do, they face being arrested.”

In Powys there were 455 cases of stalking, harassment or malicious communications between July 2017 and June 2018.

Anti-domestic abuse charity Women's Aid said that too often abuse which doesn't leave bruises is not taken seriously enough.

Katie Ghose, the charity's chief executive, said: "Abusers will often stop at nothing to make sure that their victim does not escape their control.

"From our work with survivors, we know that many women experience stalking as part of an ongoing pattern of controlling and abusive behaviour after leaving an abusive partner.

"These acts are often not seen as being as harmful as physical abuse when isolated yet together they create a life filled with threats, a life lived in fear."

The Government is currently passing a Stalking Protection Bill, and has said it is giving £4.1 million to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to better educate police officers about stalking and harassment.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Stalking is a horrendous crime that can have terrifying consequences.

"We welcome improvements in police recording, the increased use of the stalking offence by the police, and that more victims are feeling empowered to come forward.

"But we know there is more to do to keep people safe. That is why we are supporting the Stalking Protection Bill, which will introduce new civil Stalking Protection Orders to protect victims and halt perpetrators at the earliest opportunity."

Breaching the order could result in up to five years in prison.

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