Stalking reports have sky-rocketed in Norfolk during lockdown
Reports of stalking have rocketed in Norfolk over recent months as from April to December 2020, there were 1,166 incidents recorded.
That is a rise of 312 per cent on the whole 12 months prior when there were 283 cases.
The alarming rise in figures has been revealed in data collected by the BBC from 41 of the 43 police forces across England and Wales. Only Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire did not respond.
Norfolk saw the fifth-highest rise.
There was a similar percentage increase from 2016/17 (62 incidents) to 2017/18 (180). The following year there were 230 reports and a rise of 53 in 2019/20.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey said on the matter: “The rise in stalking falls under the umbrella of domestic abuse, in according with county rules. This is why the figure has risen so sharply, as more offences fall under the definition of stalking, these offences are mostly domestic abuse cases.”
The BBC investigation found that legal powers to protect stalking victims are not being used by all police forces.
Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) are a new civil power available to police which impose restrictions on suspected stalkers. They are designed to make it easier to curb the behaviour of stalkers, with a lower burden of proof required than for a criminal conviction.
But the use of SPOs, which have been available to police since January 2020, varies widely from force to force, with six failing to apply for a single order in the past 15 months.
As at April 29, there had been four applications made in Norfolk, with two granted, one rejected and the other not heard.
In England, just 249 orders have been granted since January 2020, despite more than 55,000 stalking incidents being recorded by police in the nine months to December 2020 alone.
The act of stalking is itself not legally defined, but examples of behaviours associated with it include following a person; contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means; monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication; loitering in any place (whether public or private); and watching or spying on a person.