New law against stalking

National changes in legislation come into force today that will make stalking a specific offence for the first time. Until now the often terrifying ordeal has been dealt with under 'harrassment law'.

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New stalking laws introduced

National changes have been made in legislation on stalking that has made stalking a specific offence for the first time.

The new legislation also includes a more serious offence of stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress.

Stalking can include:

  • Following
  • Contacting
  • Publishing material relating to the victim
  • Monitoring
  • Loitering
  • Interfering with property
  • Watching or spying

National research shows that, on average, someone is stalked for two and a half years - and eighty percent of victims are stalked by someone they know.

Stalking is believed to affect one in five women and one in ten men at some point in their lives.

To report an offence of stalking or harassment, you can contact Northumbria Police on 101 or in an emergency by dialling 999.

Police appeal for victims of stalking to report crimes

Northumbria Police is urging victims of stalking and harassment to get in touch so that they can help them.

The call follows national changes in legislation which have made stalking a specific and punishable offence for the first time.

Police have also been given new powers to search premises and properties for evidence of stalking behaviour.

"We're well aware of the misery and distress stalking and harassment can cause victims, and we want people to know there is support and help available.

Northumbria Police fully support the introduction of this new legislation which will help us tackle specific offences of stalking.

People might think this type of behaviour is too trivial to report but we'd ask people to let us know if they feel they are a victim and we'll decide.

The police can often take action which can avoid an escalation but we can only act if we're made aware of issues."

– Detective Superintendent Steve Wade, Northumbria Police

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Study finds women "reluctant" to report stalking

According to new research from a study by Durham University, women in the region do not think that police take rape, domestic violence and stalking as seriously as they should do.

The study found that only half the women would definitely report domestic violence if it happened to them.

"We know that the police have put additional resources and effort into improving both victim care and investigations.

However, this research shows women are still reluctant to make that first step and report these crimes to the police."

– Dr Nicole Westmarland, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Durham University

Only 49 per cent said they would definitely report domestic violence if it happened to them and just over half of women in the study would definitely report stalking to the police.

The study, funded by the Northern Rock Foundation, comes at a time when new legislation is being enforced to criminalise stalking as an offence in its own right for the first time.

"The police are always looking to improve the service we provide to victims of sexual assault; we have improved our service significantly over recent years by listening to the views of victims and experts in this field and will always continue to put the victim at the heart of our response."

– Detective Superintendent Paul Goundry, Durham Constabulary
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