Leeds a hotspot for stalking and harassment as charities warn of 'lives lived in fear'

Leeds is a hotspot for stalking and harassment, new figures show
Leeds is a hotspot for stalking and harassment, new figures show

MORE cases of stalking, harassment  or the sending of malicious messages are recorded in Leeds than anywhere else in Yorkshire, shocking figures have revealed. Sixteen cases are logged by police each day, with charities warning that this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg.

West Yorkshire Police has said it accepts stalking is an “under-reported crime” and the number of victims will be far higher than the official statistics might suggest.

Katie Ghose, chief executive of Women’s Aid, said: “All too often abuse that does not leave bruises is not taken seriously enough.

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

There were 6,099 incidents of stalking, harassment or the sending of malicious communications in Leeds last year. Of these three crimes, stalking is by far the most serious, but the charity which runs the National Stalking Helpline believes that it is still being vastly underreported.

Victoria Charleston, of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, said an estimated one in five women and one in ten men would fall victim to stalking in their lifetimes.

She said the key difference between stalking and other types of harassment was the “level of obsession or fixation” towards the victim and an estimated one in five women and one in ten men would be subjected to it in their lifetimes.

She said: “The three behaviours we are told about most frequently are stalking by social media sites, stalking by text messages and stalking by phone calls.”

Detective Chief Inspector Fran Naughton, of West Yorkshrie Police's Safeguarding Central Governance Unit, said in the past year they had begun to give officers specialist training in how to spot stalking and harassment.

She said: “Over the last year we have seen an increase in the number of stalking offences recorded; however we accept that this is an under-reported crime and that the actual number of offences will be higher.”

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