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Stalking cases four times as high in a year; crimes up from 15 to 135 since 2014.

Byline: ALICE CACHIA AND NICK LAVIGUEUR editorial@examiner.co.uk @Examiner

STALKING is on the rise in Kirklees, with police recording more crimes than ever before.

The latest Home Office figures reveal that 135 such crimes were recorded in 2017/18 - almost four times more than there were a year earlier.

That is the highest number recorded by police since at least 2014/15, when comparable figures were first published. That year, police across Kirklees recorded just 15 crimes of stalking.

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.

Half a dozen stalking cases at Kirklees Magistrates' Court have been covered by the Examiner in recent months. They include a man who bombarded his ex with unwanted messages and secretly filmed her, another who repeatedly harassed his ex's mother, and a cannabis addict who was banned from contacting his own mother.

The news also comes after a recent government report found that Sussex Police were failing to investigate stalking and harassment offences properly following the murder of 19-year-old Shana Grice 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."

Ms Bhaker said punishment, including jail sentences, was not enough. The root cause of an obsession or fiaxation had to be tackled. The situation in Kirklees reflects a national trend.

Across England and Wales, police recorded 10,231 crimes of stalking - nearly double the 5,321 recorded the previous year and again, a record high.

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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Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Apr 26, 2019
Words:441
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