Social networking and our dependency on mobile phones has opened up new avenues for stalkers according to new research - and women under 25 are often too scared to tell the police about harassment
Social networking and our dependency on mobile phones has opened up new avenues for stalkers according to new research – and women under 25 are often too scared to tell the police about harassment.
Women under 25 are twice as likely to be targeted by stalkers as older women, and research suggests that young victims are significantly less likely to seek help.
According to the latest crime surveys, 1.4 million people were harassed or stalked between 2009 and 2010 but 75 per cent of young stalking victims waited until they had endured more than 120 incidents before contacting the police.
‘Often victims don’t want to make a fuss,’ says forensic psychologist, Dr Lorraine Sheridan. ‘They could be embarrassed or ashamed, or maybe they still feel some loyalty to the person.’
The Association of Chief Police Officers insists that lives are at risk because too many young victims of stalkers are suffering in silence.
Assistant chief constable Garry Shewan, who’s leading the police response on stalking and harassment, says: ‘Too often young victims say it’s just someone they used to go out with and ‘they’ll give up eventually’. The problem is that sometimes they don’t. And the consequences can be tragic.’
In 2009, guidelines were issued to all police forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to help officers identify the most serious forms of stalking behaviour, but just 19 out of the 44 forces said the guidelines were active.
‘We have to accept very clearly that some victims of stalking are not getting the best service,’ says Shewan.
More forces are expected to train officers in how to deal with women who’ve been stalked in the coming year and the government has proposed setting up a national stalking prevention group made up of police, prosecutors and Home Office officials. This is intended to improve the response towards incidents and emphasise the importance of taking action.
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