Reports of stalking on the rise in region; police told of more than two every week.
Byline: ALICE CACHIA
STALKING is on the increase in the Black Country, with police recording more crimes than ever before.
The latest Home Office figures reveal that 124 incidents were recorded in 2017/18 - a rate of more than two a week.
That is the highest number recorded by police since at least 2014/15, when comparable figures were first published.
During that year, police in the Black Country recorded 43 crimes of stalking.
In 2015/16 it had climbed to 94, and in 2016/17 police recorded 108 such crimes.
Campaigners have welcomed the rise as a reflection of improved police responses, but warn that the number of crimes is still only a fraction of the 1.1 million offences that take place each year. The news comes as a recent government report found that Sussex Police are failing to investigate stalking and harassment offences properly.
The report was commissioned following the murder of 19-year-old Shana Grice (pictured) by her ex boyfriend.
She was fined for wasting police time after reporting Michael Lane to police five times over the course of six months.
He was later jailed for 25 years for her murder.
The report concluded that a training programme introduced after Shana's murder was "never fully completed" and that most investigating officers had not been trained in how to handle stalking cases.
Suky Bhaker, acting CEO of stalking charity Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said: "We do not view this as an increase in offences taking place but instead a reflection of an improved police response particularly in some areas, but there is still work to be done to encourage victims to come forward and report to the police.
"The police need to recognise that stalking is a pattern of behaviour and that incidents should not be viewed in isolation."
Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills, Council Lead for Stalking and Harassment at the National Police Chiefs' Council, said: "The police service remains absolutely committed to safeguarding victims of stalking and harassment, and bringing offenders to justice." | Victims of stalking can call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300.
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