Four stalking reports made to police each day in Wigan

Reports of stalking in Wigan have increased
Reports of stalking in Wigan have increased

There were more than four stalking and harassment cases reported every day in Wigan over the last 12 months, shocking new figures reveal.

Office for National Statistics data shows that in Wigan, 1,820 cases of stalking, harassment or malicious communications were reported between July 2017 and June 2018.

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Of the three crimes included in the figures stalking is the most serious, and can include following someone, repeatedly going uninvited to their home and monitoring their use of phones and computers.

Anti-domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid said that too often abuse which doesn’t leave bruises “is not taken seriously enough”.

Katie Ghose, the charity’s chief executive, explained: “Abusers will often stop at nothing to make sure that their victim does not escape their control.

“From our work with survivors, we know that many women experience stalking as part of an ongoing pattern of controlling and abusive behaviour after leaving an abusive partner.

“These acts are often not seen as being as harmful as physical abuse when isolated yet together they create a life filled with threats, a life lived in fear.”

Ms Ghose said she was pleased there has been police progress regarding stalking, with improvements in identification and recording of the crime.

In Wigan reported stalking and harassment offences have increased by 94 per cent since 2015-16.

Across England and Wales there was an 86 per cent increase over that time, which could be down to better recording by officers.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a charity which campaigns to reduce the risk of violence and aggression, called on the ONS to publish separate data for stalking and harassment.

“Stalking and harassment are distinct and combining them in this way continues to blur the lines between these two crimes,” Victoria Charleston, the charity’s policy and development manager, said.

“We do not amalgamate fraud and burglary, or assault and grievous bodily harm.”

The Government is currently passing a Stalking Protection Bill, and has said it is giving £4.1 million to the Suzy Lamplugh Trust to better educate police officers about stalking and harassment.

A Home Office spokesman said: “Stalking is a horrendous crime that can have terrifying consequences.

“We welcome improvements in police recording, the increased use of the stalking offence by the police, and that more victims are feeling empowered to come forward.

“But we know there is more to do to keep people safe. That is why we are supporting the Stalking Protection Bill, which will introduce new civil Stalking Protection Orders to protect victims and halt perpetrators at the earliest opportunity.”

Breaching the order could result in up to five years in prison.

Many have been the court cases covered in recent years in the Post.

A year ago Nina Postlethwaite, from Whelley, attended Wigan and Leigh Magistrates’ Court to ask for an extension to a restraining order already enforced on her former partner earlier this year after he was caught with a kitchen knife outside her house.

Ms Postlethwaite, who requested a screen to protect her from having to face her abuser, told the court how she was being “stalked” by Ian Riddle, from Nottingham, after ending their six-year relationship earlier that year. He claimed he was only trying to gain access to their child which had been denied to him since they split.

After hearing both parties give their side, justices extended the order by a year to March 2019.