I’m using this International Men’s Day (Friday 19th November) to call for targeted efforts to give more male victims of stalking the confidence to come forward. It comes as my research shows that the proportion of men reporting stalking offences to the police remains much lower than the number estimated to be impacted by stalking, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales.
In 2020/21, the proportion of male victims reporting to the police was 20.5%, but the Crime Survey for England and Wales estimates that 35% of victims were male in 2019/20. In Kent, 21.5% of victims were male. Data from 28 Police Forces shows that more people generally are coming forward, but overall numbers remain significantly lower than Crime Survey estimates.
Stalking is a particularly heinous crime, which has wide ranging impacts on the physical and mental wellbeing of its victims. We know that the true number of victims is significantly higher than those who do report, so we need to continue to increase awareness of the signs of stalking, and in particular, focus on the fact that like many offences, the proportion of men coming forward is not as high as it should be. There needs to be efforts to understand why men aren’t coming forward in the same numbers and promote the services available to all victims of stalking.
Jan Berry, Co-CEO of Protection Against Stalking (PAS) has said, “Stalking is an insidious crime which leaves over 90% of its victims with symptoms of PTSD. It affects men as well as women; over the last 12 months PAS have supported 161 male victims of stalking in Kent. We know from experience early identification of stalking helps to save lives.”
Mark Brooks, Chair of the Mankind Initiative charity, has said “It is vital to recognise that large numbers of men are victims of stalking and alongside this the need to do more to encourage them to seek help. This should be through targeted campaigns specifically aimed at men that highlights stalker behaviour and the support available to victims. Stalking is a particularly impactful crime that needs a higher focus, as these numbers show.”
Where to get help:
In an emergency, call Kent Police on 999. Kent Police can also be contacted via 101 or online at www.kent.police.uk. Victims of stalking in Kent can contact the PCC’s Stalking Advocate Service via 0808 168 9276 or Protection Against Stalking via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Know the FOUR signs of stalking.
If the behaviour you’re experiencing is:
Observations from the research:
There was a marked increase in stalking offences recorded by police forces in the period requested by an FIO: Whilst there was an increase in reports linked to the pandemic and continued efforts to raise awareness, a change in the Home Office counting rules included extra categories of stalking offences – where a course of conduct is reported between a victim and their former partner it must be recorded as stalking unless the police are satisfied that the matter amounts to harassment in law only. This was expected to cause an increase in offences recorded against ‘stalking’.
Stalking is still a vastly under-reported crime: The crime survey for England and Wales estimated that in the year ending March 2020, there were over 1.5m offences of stalking; 526,000 men (35%) and 977,000 women. This data analysis covers fewer than 62,000 offences from 28 Forces.
Crime data accuracy will mask the true picture too: As there a vast discrepancy in how well police forces record crime (crime data integrity, as inspected by HMICFRS), with Kent Police the highest at 97% accuracy, there will be many who did report but the crime was not recorded separately.
Women are still much more likely than men to report a stalking offence: The data returned shows that stalking offences were committed against 12,632 men (20.5%) and 46,894 women (79.5%). This compares with 35% of victims being men and 65% women according to the crime survey.
The proportion of men coming forward is growing year on year, nationally: There was a rise in the proportion of men reporting that they are a victim of stalking, from 16% to 20.5%.
Some Forces did not record gender in some cases: In a number of cases, a gender was not recorded or known. This applied to over 2500 cases over the two years.
Greater awareness of stalking: The work to promote the signs of stalking and where people can report needs to continue across the whole country. The FOUR campaigning and the efforts of charities are to be commended. Whilst numbers are increasing, they are still no-where near the estimated number of male and female victims of stalking.
Focussed campaigns targeted at male victims to encourage them to come forward: If the proportion of male and female victims were consistent between the crime survey for England and Wales and police recorded, thousands more men would have come forward in these 28 police force areas, let alone those areas that did not reply to the data request before the deadline. There needs to be nationally-led campaigning to support male and female victims of stalking.
Ensure accuracy of recording with regards to gender: Some forces returned “unknown” responses with regards to gender, with few explaining what this meant in practice. In order to ensure people get the right support, Forces that have identified “unknown” or unspecified responses should make sure that they are doing so whenever they can.
28 Police Forces have responded to a data request made on 15 October to detail the number of victims of stalking by gender in 2019/20 and 2020/21.
Crime Survey for England and Wales, April 2017-March 2020: Stalking: findings from the Crime Survey for England and Wales – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)