Stalking Victims Resource - UK Stalking Statistics

Quantifying Stalking in the United Kingdom (2012) 

At the time of writing, stalking has not as yet been adopted as a specific, stand-alone crime by the UK criminal justice system. However it will be defined as a stand-alone criminal offence in November 2012. Currently, the crime of stalking in the UK is technically known as the crime of harassment.

This article reports briefly on the following aspects of stalking, cyberstalking and harassment in the UK:
  • Prevalence 
  • Occurrence 
  • Statistical observations 
  • Gender observations 
  • Economic costs to stalking victims 
  • The many and varied impacts of stalking on its victims 
  • Commonly recognised obsessive character traits of stalkers and cyberstalkers 
  • The occurrence of stalking of victims friends, family and associates by the perpetrator 
  • Typical start and end points of stalking campaigns 
  • Priority requirements for victims (as defined by victims) 
  • Societal responses 
  • Statistical observations on the response of the UK Police to stalking 


Stalking type behaviours can at first glance seem normal and ordinary, however, when they are repeated they can be menacing and cause alarm and distress to the victim. When seen in context they are usually sinister and constitute harassment

Irrespective of whether a victim experiences significant alarm and distress, the motivation behind stalking is always sinister and often displays criminal intent

Stalking is a crime of power, control and intimidation

Stalking in any form, irrespective of the typology and/or motivation is abhorrent and an infringement of the victim’s fundamental human rights

Some noted mental health professionals believe that stalkers can be treated, given the right context, however it is difficult to persuade most stalkers to undergo psychological or psychiatric analysis as they don't believe that they are doing anything wrong

The stalker’s view of reality is typically so distorted that they see themselves as lone heroic figures, spurned lovers or wronged employees battling for justice

Any reaction to the unwanted abusive advances of a stalker only provides gratification to the stalker and thus serves to reinforce the stalking behaviour

Stalking and harassment

Stalking and harassment is behaviour:
  • That is intended by the perpetrator 
  • That is repeated by the perpetrator 
  • That is unwanted by the victim 

UK crime reference and general stalking statistics

  • 8% of women and 6% of men are stalked every year 
  • 19% of women and 12% of men have experienced stalking or harassment at some point in their lives 
  • 70% of domestic violence homicide victims were stalked 
  • 1 in 5 women will be victims of stalking at some point during their lifetime 
  • 1 in 10 men will be victims of stalking at some point during their lifetime 
  • The average number of people directly affected in a stalking case is 21. Such persons included: the victim's children, the victim's partner's parents, strangers, the victim's neighbours, and the victim's work contacts 
  • There are an estimated 250,000 new stalking cases reported in the UK every year 
  • On average a victim experiences over 100 incidents before reporting it to the police - in other words, those cases that are reported to the Police are usually extremely serious and already representative of a sustained attack 
  • 37% of cases of ‘aggravated stalking’ (stalking with violence) against women were carried out by ‘an intimate’ 
  • 59% of cases of ‘aggravated stalking’ (stalking with violence) were carried out by people known to the victim 
  • 7% of cases of ‘aggravated stalking’ (stalking with violence) were carried out by a stranger 
  • 45% of stalking offenders turn violent 
  • Over 50% of stalking starts before the victim leaves the home 
  • The average age of victims at the start of a stalking campaign is 33 years 
  • Methods of stalking include defamation of character and identity theft 
  • Typically, stalkers will employ a diverse range of tactics and will only very rarely engage in a single stalking activity 

Defining the size, scope and impact of stalking from a victim's perspective

It is well accepted by all anti-stalking agencies and the Criminal Justice System that stalking has a significant impact on society as a whole. This impact is felt by:
  • Stalking victims 
  • The friends, family and extended networks of its victims 
  • The criminal justice system 
  • The health care system 
  • The perpetrator of the stalking incident/s themselves 

The impact of stalking on its victims

40% of victims are forced to move home or job as a direct result of their stalker's unwanted attentions 

According to the findings of the 2005 University of Leicester Study:
  • 72% of victims said they’d received unsolicited phone-calls 
  • 67% of victims said they’d been spied on 
  • 62% said their stalkers had threatened suicide 
  • 19% said their homes had been broken into 
  • 18% said they’d been sexually assaulted 
  • 15% said their pets had been abused 
  • 12% said their children had been threatened with violence 
  • Many stalkers don't stop until the victim takes drastic evasive action 
  • Stalking often ends in the death of the victim 
  • Stalking is a significant cause of suicide 
  • Virtually all victims of stalking suffer severe emotional and physical effects 
  • Financial losses to victims of reported stalking cases in the UK have ranged between £20 to £4Million 
  • A staggering 94% of victims have to make major changes in the way they live, which can mean altering their appearance, giving up work, installing security devices or changing their physical location 
  • The same victims reported that only 8% of their stalkers had suffered similar significant life changes 
  • This was despite the fact that 22% of stalkers had legal proceedings brought against them or else were detained under the Mental Health Act
  • Accordingly the study found that stalking has more profound negative effects on its victims than it does on the perpetrators / stalkers 


Almost all "traditional" or spatial-stalking incidents involve some element of cyberstalking

Cyberstalking is growing at an alarming rate

Cyberstalking in the United Kingdom - Analysis of the ECHO Pilot Survey (2011) published by the University of Bedfordshire in conjunction with the Network for Surviving Stalking says:
"The amount of electronic data and communication has given opportunity for areas of society to act unethically, unlawfully or immorally. One area that has given rise to great concern, and is the subject of this work, is that of cyberstalking. Figures from the Crown Prosecution Service show that during the last year 33% of stalking incidents were by e-mail, 32% by text message and a further 8.4% were through social networking sites"

Dispelling the myths about stalking

  • Popular culture and the media often represent the typical stalker as a sexual pervert who stalks lonely women whilst wearing a trench coat; or a deranged psychopath such as Anthony Hopkins in the Silence of the Lambs. However at least prior to the advent of cyberstalking, most stalking victims knew their stalker 
  • Whilst ex-intimate stalkers are typically the most aggressive and prone to physical violence, it is arguable that the most sinister type of stalker is the sadistic or revenge stalker
  • There is a higher risk of violence where there has been a previous sexual/intimate relationship
  • Stalking often emanates from an infinitesimally short period of contact between the stalker and his prey (the victim)
  • Stalkers typically believe that the victim should not be able to choose who he or she has “in their lives”. This is a fundamental infringement of the basic human right of a peaceful existence with control over one’s lawful circumstances. By definition, a stalker whom has this belief poses significant danger both to the victim and to society
  • Stalking can affect anyone - no one is immune

The stark reality of stalking - stalkers will stop at nothing to gain information on their prey

According to the findings of the 2005 University of Leicester Study:
  • Stalkers typically research their victims relentlessly and using many underhand means and tactics 
  • Sometimes the information sourced by stalkers comes from unwitting friends and family 
  • Stalkers are extremely adept at findings out information concerning the victim, and at convincing third parties to aid their stalking campaign 
  • Stalkers are typically sociopathic (lacking moral compass) - thus they are extraordinarily adept at soliciting accurate information from pertinent sources under false pretence. Very often the person whom provided such illicitly gained information is oblivious as to the subterfuge to which they themselves have fallen prey 
  • Stalkers would obtain information from anywhere they could: 
  • Via surveillance and tracking equipment 
  • From private detectives 
  • From the internet 
  • From taxi and delivery firms 
  • From people who had passing acquaintance with the victim, and many more sources (some unknown to the victim and police) 
  • Many victims noted that their stalker could be very charming when obtaining information from third parties 
  • Stalkers easily duped others into passing on information about the victim: 
  • One third said others had helped their stalker knowingly 
  • One third said their stalker had been aided unwittingly 
  • Of those who knowingly aided the stalker, some were paid and others were manipulated by the stalker into believing that the stalker did not have a sinister motive 
  • 40% of stalkers obtained information from people’s friends 
  • 27% got information from their work-place and from the victim’s family 
  • 17% of the information came from public records 

It is rarely just the initial victim who is stalked

According to the findings of the 2005 University of Leicester Study:
  • One quarter of victims said their children had been targeted too 
  • One third said their family and friends had also been stalked 
  • One fifth said work colleagues had been harassed 

Stalking devastates lives

According to the findings of the 2005 University of Leicester Study:

  • One third of victims said they’d lost their job or relationship or had been forced to move because of the stalking 
  • 98% of victims reported emotional effects due to stalking. These included: 
  • Anxiety 
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Anger 
  • Depression 
  • Paranoia 
  • Agoraphobia; and 
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder 

Stalking has massive economic consequences for its victims

According to the findings of the 2005 University of Leicester Study:
  • One half of the victims said they’d lost out financially due to stalking 
  • One third said they’d paid for repairs to damage inflicted by a stalker 
  • One fifth said they had paid for legal advice 
  • Stalking results in serious financial and social losses for its victims 
  • One half of all victims change their telephone numbers 
  • One half give up social activities 
  • One half saw their performance at work affected 
  • One third relocated homes 
  • Others gave up friends and family, or changed their identity 
  • Many victims changed or replaced their car and installed security systems 

Stalking isn't taken seriously enough

According to the findings of the 2005 University of Leicester Study:
  • One half of victims reported being told they were being paranoid or over-reacting when they confided to friends and colleagues about their stalker 
  • 57% of victims said they didn’t go to the police when their stalking problem started for fear of being ignored or laughed at 
  • One sixth of victims said they were told they were lucky to receive such attention 
  • One third of victims said that prior to being stalked, they’d thought that only mentally ill people were responsible for stalking 
  • One half began to feel they were going mad or perhaps imagining the stalking (this rarely occurred where family, friends and the police took the victim seriously from the outset) 

The response to stalking by the British Police

According to the findings of the 2005 University of Leicester Study:
  • No marked differences were seen between UK based and USA based victims in terms of the police response they reported, and their views concerning the police. Given legislative and practical policing differences between the two nations, this may be considered surprising. It has been known for some years however, that stalking is an international phenomenon and victims in many countries report very similar experiences 
  • 42% of all victims reported their stalker to the police 
  • Of these, 61% said the police were ‘very helpful’ 
  • 40% were satisfied with the Crown Prosecution Service 
  • The majority of victims whose case did not reach court cited insufficient evidence as the primary reason 
  • Some victims noted that their stalker was an extremely manipulative individual who was able to convince the police that the stalking was a non-existent or trivial matter 
  • Many stalkers made counter-allegations of stalking 
  • Victims felt that overall, the police in the UK were sympathetic towards the needs of stalking victims, but could benefit from training or guidance on the nature of stalking and the many tactics employed by stalkers 
  • Victims felt that arrest was the best police response to stalking. However, many noted that arrest, charges, a restraining order and even jail failed to stop their stalker 
  • Many victims noted that police responses should be tailored to the needs of individual cases, given the fundamental differences between different types of stalkers 

Starting and ending stalking

According to the findings of the 2005 University of Leicester Study:
  • Victims were asked what they believed triggered the stalking: 
  • Half of the respondents cited rejection (most often the rejection of partners or potential partners) 
  • The next largest group said they had no idea why they were being stalked, followed by those who cited jealousy (romantic or general), arguments (usually with strangers or acquaintances), and finally, mental illness in the stalker 
  • From those cases where the stalking had ended, no clear pattern was detected as to the most effective ways of curtailing the activities of stalkers 
  • The largest proportion of victims whose stalking had ended said this was due to the delivery of a police warning (one in six) 
  • However, a similar proportion said their stalking had only ceased when they moved to a secret location 
  • The largest proportion simply did not know why the stalker had stopped. For this reason, 18% of all victims did not know whether they were still being targeted
  • Similarly, there was no clear pattern between how far a case had gone through legal channels and whether the stalking had ended 
  • Some stalkers stopped after a police warning or a solicitor’s letter, or after an injunction or restraining order had been imposed. Others did not 
  • Being jailed stopped some stalkers but not others 
  • Stalkers are not a homogenous group 
  • Because different stalkers will have different motivations for stalking, they will react differently to the imposition of various sanctions 
  • 40% said that from the perspective of victims, stalking never ends 
  • Even if a stalker appears to stop the stalking, many victims noted that there is no guarantee that it will not resume

What stalking victims want

  • Victims want to be taken seriously by the agencies - to be believed. This was their principal wish 
  • Victims want to see an increase in awareness so that the general public take stalking seriously, and to erode stereotypes (e.g. that only celebrities are stalked or that stalkers are ‘sad’ but harmless individuals who are seeking a romantic relationship)
  • Victims want practical help and practical advice, such as: advice on collecting and preserving evidence, how to change telephone numbers and routines, security advice, help with CCTV or personal attack alarms, advice on available legal responses, advice from psychologists, referrals to other agencies
  • Many noted that there are different stalker types and expressed hope that any advice would recognize this fact. For instance, a violent ex-partner stalker would require a different intervention to a non-violent delusional stalker
  • 80% wanted stalkers to be tagged

References and Resources

British Crime Survey 2004 - Domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking: Findings from the British Crime Survey Sylvia Walby and Jonathan Allen - Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate March 2004

Dr. Lorraine Sheridan (2005). The Key Findings of the UK National Stalking Survey. The University of Leicester and The Network for Surviving Stalking

Hoffmann, J. and Sheridan, L. (2008). Stalking, threatening and attacking business representatives. In Meloy, J. R., Sheridan, L., and Hoffmann, J. (Eds.). (2008). Stalking, threatening and attacking public figures. New York: Oxford University Press.

Flatley, J. et al (eds.) (2010). Crime in England and Wales 2009/10. Home Office Statistical Bulletin 12/10.

Harris, J. (2000). An evaluation of the use and effectiveness of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Home Office Research Study 203.

Boon, J.C.W. and Sheridan, L. (Eds.). (2002). Stalking and psychosexual obsession: Prevention, policing and treatment. Chichester: Wiley.

Joint Committee on Human Rights (2003b). Third Report, Scrutiny of Bills: Progress Report, HL 23/HC252 2003/04. London: HMSO. [includes scrutiny of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004]

The Network for Surviving Stalking

Suzy Lamplugh Trust

Bocij, Paul. Cyberstalking : Harassment in the Internet Age and How to Protect Your Family. Praeger Publishers, 2004. (ISBN 0-275-98118-5)

Protection Against Stalking


Crime in England and Wales 2010/11 - Findings from the British Crime Survey and police recorded crime (2nd Edition) Edited by: Rupert Chaplin, John Flatley and Kevin Smith July 2011 HOSB:10/11

Cyberstalking in the United Kingdom - Analysis of the ECHO Pilot Survey (2011) published by the University of Bedfordshire in conjunction with the Network for Surviving Stalking

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