MORE than 6,000 cases of stalking and harassment were recorded by West Mercia Police in one year, latest figures show.

Crime statistics published by the Office of National Statistics show the number of cases recorded by West Mercia Police for the 12 months leading up to June 30 last year was triple the figure recorded for the same period three years earlier. There were 6,625 recorded offences for the year ending June 2018 - compared to 2,280 offences during the 12-month period ending June 30, 2015.

The ONS Centre for Crime and Justice says the increase is likely due to improvements in recording such crimes, particularly offences of malicious communications - the sending of electronic messages designed to cause anxiety or distress.

Stalking, which became a criminal offence in November 2012, is a pattern of repeated and persistent unwanted behaviour that creates fear and distress such as unwanted gift giving, monitoring or following a person, turning up at their home, place of work or leisure destination. Harassment can include repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and contact upon a victim in a manner that could cause alarm, distress or intimidation.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust says the recorded figures represent just a tiny percentage of cases that occur.

Detective Chief Inspector Amrik Klair from West Mercia Police said: "Stalking should absolutely be distinguished from harassment. There is a national drive amongst police and our safeguarding partners to ensure that offences of stalking are properly identified, recorded and pursued at the earliest opportunity.

"While harassment can be extremely unpleasant and we take reports of such incidents very seriously, it is stalking that more often involves obsessive, fixated behaviour which can lead to serious psychological and physical harm or even death.

"As our knowledge and expertise around stalking improves, through better training and collaboration with our specialist partners, such as Paladin National Stalking Advisory Service, more stalking offences which may previously have been classified incorrectly as harassment or similar will be recognised for what they are.

"There is currently a widespread programme of training being delivered by our own Learning and Development Team which includes an in-depth case study of a high profile stalking case.

"The training is designed to share the learnings from the Domestic Homicide Review which followed the case and also to improve the knowledge and understanding of the offence and the type of support needed by stalking victims.

"This year, more than 1,200 officers and staff will receive the 'Domestic Abuse Matters' training programme which is designed and delivered by SafeLives, in conjunction with the College of Policing. The training includes content concerning the links between coercive control and stalking, a study of perpetrator behaviour and guidance around effective investigation and victim support.

"The force has also recently redesigned their internal and external digital communication products, to ensure that information regarding stalking and the various avenues of support are current and relevant.

"This enables us to better support victims of stalking and to deal more robustly with dangerous offenders who often use a variety of tactics to carry out the offence.

"The increase in recorded offences is extremely encouraging, as the most likely reasons for this are improved levels of confidence amongst victims and witnesses who report offences."

Police and Crime Commissioner John Campion said “I am committed to putting victims first, and have invested in services to support victims of crimes which include both stalking and harassment.

"I will continue to ensure the police have the resources, to reduce harm as outlined in my Safer West Mercia Plan."

Meanwhile - a Bill which aims to secure more protection for stalking victims is currently going through the House of Lords.

The Stalking Protection Bill, if approved, will see Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) introduced – giving police the power to address the danger perpetrators pose while they gather more evidence.

The orders would enable police to stop offenders contacting or getting too close to their victim; they could even require stalkers to be psychologically assessed or to attend rehabilitation programmes to help prevent reoffending. Stalkers caught breaching an order would also face up to five years in prison.

There is also an online campaign calling for the creation of a stalkers’ register, similar to the sex offenders’ register, to help people avoid falling victim to known stalkers.

To sign the petition go to

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust offers tips and practical advice about staying safe. To find out more go to

People can also call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 or reach out to SODA via website

Anyone in immediate danger should call police on 999.