Police take the positives from huge rise in Norfolk stalking offences
PUBLISHED: 16:18 24 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:18 24 July 2019
Police bosses have insisted an "increased awareness" around stalking and harassment is behind alarming new figures which show the number of offences have sky-rocketed over the past five years.
In 2013 police in Norfolk recorded just two offences of stalking involving fear of violence but by 2018 this had risen to 23 - an increase of 1050pc.
Similarly in terms of stalking involving serious alarm/distress there were just three offences reported to police in the county, but this had hit 54 in 2018 - a rise of 1700pc.
But despite the rise in offences police have welcomed the figures obtained through a freedom of information request and insisted that "increased awareness" from both victims and society means it is now more likely to be reported.
Stalking only became a specific criminal offence in England and Wales in 2012 in a bid to improve victims' safety.
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Police say the figures can be seen as a positive as more victims of the crime are now coming forward.
Inspector Julia Sandell, from Norfolk Constabulary's Safeguarding Development Team, said: "There is increased awareness around stalking and harassment both locally and nationally from victims themselves and society in general which means it is more likely to be reported to police.
Statistics from a Network for Surviving Stalking survey, show that, on average, victims will suffer as many as 100 incidents of stalking before they decide to report it. We want to make sure that stalking victims know they can report the crime to us and we will take it seriously. This increase can be seen as positive as we are finding more victims are coming forward."
A woman who suffered years of terrifying abuse at the hands of her stalker ex-boyfriend Jordan Hughes from Wisbech, is one of those to have come forward.
Hughes, 25, from New Drove, was jailed for more than three years and handed a 10 year restraining order at Cambridge Crown Court last week after he admitted a number of charges, including stalking.
The court heard how Hughes would bombard the woman with constant text messages and phone calls, both at her home and place of work. He also threatened to drive his car into the pub where she worked.