Sudbury: Victim welcomes changes to stalking legislation

A MAN who was stalked by a stranger for more than two years has told of the relief new anti-stalking legislation could bring to victims.

The college lecturer from Sudbury, who was harassed repeatedly by e-mail, text and in person by a mature student who attended one of his lectures, spoke out after a law making stalking illegal in England and Wales came into force on Sunday.

In these two countries alone, it is estimated that 120,000 victims are stalked each year. But according to police data, less than half of those cases are recorded as crimes. Legislation changed in Scotland in 2010 and as a result, the number of prosecutions relating to stalking has soared.

The Sudbury victim, who did not want to be named, said because most stalking victims were women, police did not take his case seriously. He said: “I had never met this person before and she started by sending me e-mails asking questions relating to work. It rapidly escalated into very personal and explicit information, and then she started sending threatening texts and e-mails referring to my wife and children. She would sit outside our house and even applied for a job where I worked. It’s hard to understand the seriousness of something like this especially when it’s a woman stalking a man, but it ruined our lives because we were constantly looking over our shoulders and living in fear.”

He added: “Because of the laws in England, offenders are often charged with a more minor offence. The only thing I was able to do was to take out a restraining order, which she still defied.”

The new law means stalking will be treated as a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. But fears have been raised that the new laws will not prevent stalkers from harassing victims online.

The lecturer continued: “There is nothing to stop people from leaving threats or abuse on websites like Twitter or Facebook, and I feel that this is the next area where the Government will need to act to protect victims of stalkers, who see this type of social media as yet another way of getting to their victims.”

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The change in the law followed a campaign by a number of organisations, including Protection Against Stalking.

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