More than one thousand stalking cases are reported each year according to new data from the South Yorkshire Police.
But the cases are hard to brought to court due to evidence, or reluctance from victims.
This week is Stalking Awareness Week and aims to highlight the impact the crime can have on the victim – as well as making people aware they understand what stalking actually is.
Superintendent Cherie Buttle, the force lead for stalking, said: “If you are suffering, or you think a loved one might be, please know that you are not alone. You do not have to put up with it.”
Stalking involves multiple methods and forms, including constant and unwanted contacts online with phones and social media or in person from people you know or strangers.
Victims may suffer from terrible emotions such as fear and anxiety after the crimes and it could also affect their future life.
“It was awful. I started having trouble sleeping and I was panicking all the time.” said Sheffield lecturer and author Lisa Bradley, who used to be stalked and harassed by texts, “I was constantly anxious and when I was trying to make friends with new people, I was always nervous about giving them my number.”
Statistics from the South Yorkshire Police suggest that both females and males are impacted. There were 2,128 female stalked victims and 530 males victims by the end of September 2021.
Suspects could be sentenced maximum 10 years custody and 14 years’ if racially or religiously aggravated for stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress.
Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a national safety charity, also released a report along with the Stalking Awareness Week, which finds that only one quarter of respondents received vital specialist support after being stalked.
Suzy Bhaker, CEO of Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said: “There is a huge gap between victims and support services, and it is simply unacceptable. Police and frontline services must signpost victims to specialist services if we are to truly bridge this gap.”
There are still many who have experienced stalking but didn’t report it for different reasons.
“Please do not suffer in silence and please do not be ashamed. It is always the offender who is to blame.” said Superintendent Buttle, “As a force, we are committed to tackling this type of crime wherever we find it. There are many ways we can put a stop to this behaviour, including prison sentences, restraining orders and other penalties.”