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Suffolk: Nearly half of all harassment warnings ignored

09:51 31 December 2012

Nearly half of all harassment orders are broken. An order may be made after a violent relationship.

Nearly half of all harassment orders are broken. An order may be made after a violent relationship.

NEARLY 43% of all harassment warnings issued by police are flouted by the offenders, according to Suffolk Constabulary figures.

Between January 1, 2010, and July this year, officers served 3,698 warnings to stalkers, vengeful neighbours, abusive ex-partners, and people bearing grudges following disputes.

However, 1,581 of the notices were breached after offenders ignored them and continued to harass their victims.

The perpetrators targeted people in various ways, including on face-to-face basis, through social media sites, or by vandalising their property.

One Suffolk woman who was stalked by an ex-partner has spoken of the impact her ordeal still has on her life, even though it is now several years later.

She said: “I still don’t live a normal life. I still have to take precautions.

“Before the harassment laws came in you felt you were on your own. To be honest there was no support.

“I felt very vulnerable, isolated and a prisoner in my own home. I couldn’t do anything, go anywhere or do the normal things in life. I was always having to watch my back.

“Even doing just little things like going into town to buy a pair of shoes, you had to take precautions by taking people with you, or go to another town.

“It’s just a living hell. That’s the only way you can describe it. You are just a prisoner in hell.”

In the first seven months of 2012 there were 777 harassment warnings issued by police, of which 312 were breached.

Suffolk Constabulary stressed it does all it can to help people who complain about being abused or others making their lives made intolerable.

Detective Inspector Jim Gooding said: “We take harassment very seriously.

“We do all we can to support a victim of harassment. Everything is done on a case-by-case basis, but when people are victims and something is put in place to be in effect we respond accordingly and promptly.”

In September 2009 Suffolk Constabulary adopted a policy of firstly issuing a warning and then arresting the culprit on any breach.

The law, however, does allow for an arrest to take place without prior warning.

To breach a police-issued harassment warning is an offence which can lead to a conviction.

A more onerous restraining order can then be made if a court deems it necessary.

On occasions the implementation of harassment warnings, followed by restraining orders can pose difficulties for law enforcement agencies when the aggrieved party, then tries to contact the perpetrator.

In October this year a 21-year-old man from Ipswich walked free from court after he had been encouraged to breach his restraining order for the sixth time by his ex-partner, whom it was protecting.

The town’s magistrates were told at least three of the previous breaches involved the man responding to text messages from his former partner.

On another occasion the woman turned up at his mother’s house and refused to go away until he let her in.

The order had originally been made due to a history of violence in their relationship.

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