University of Leicester and Network for Surviving Stalking to spearhead first global stalking survey

In Britain, 900,000 adults are stalked every year. It’s a crime that devastates lives. Stalking behaviour can lead to assault, rape and in some cases murder. All too often those affected are left to suffer in silence.

For the first time ever, global stalking victims are being given a voice. The University of Leicester and the Network for Surviving Stalking [NSS] are embarking on the most comprehensive study of those affected by the crime.

The researchers aim to find out victims’ first-hand experiences of stalking along with how those around them have been affected by the crime; what they think about the way their case has been handled by the police and criminal justice system; what they make of the media’s reporting of the crime and how they think they could have been better protected.

The research will be published to coincide with Stalking Awareness Month in January 2005. At that time, NSS will also be providing a number of experts for interview – from the fields of law, policing, psychology and psychiatry as well as people who have been personally affected by the crime itself.

Dr Lorraine Sheridan, a lecturer in the University of Leicester School of Psychology and the UK’s leading expert on the psychology of stalking, has been researching the issue for seven years.

Dr Sheridan said: “The work we have carried out over the last seven years has told us that normal people, not celebrities, are the vast majority of stalking victims. We also know that anyone can become the victim of a stalker, and that individual stalkers will have very different motives. “What we want to do now is to examine for the first time the far-reaching effects that stalking has, not only on its victims, but also on numerous third parties. The physical, emotional and financial costs will be measured, and a ’roadmap’ of the course and nature of stalking will be produced. Stalking is a major issue that touches millions of lives but people have so many misconceptions about it.”

The Network for Surviving Stalking (NSS) is the only UK charity dedicated to supporting those affected by this crime. Tracey Morgan, Director of the charity said, “The results of this research are going to be crucial to the way stalking is dealt with and the way victims are treated. We cannot do this without the help of victims of stalking. We need to know how they feel about the stalking, the Criminal Justice System and how it is affecting those around them. The more people who complete this questionnaire, the better chance we have of making a real difference in the future. I would ask that anyone who has been stalked complete this questionnaire at in order to help us to make things better”.

Assistant Chief Constable Jim Gamble, who is the ACPO Lead for Domestic Violence and Harassment says: “I am extremely supportive of the research conducted by The Network for Surviving Stalking and the University of Leicester. This project will provide invaluable information which will educate the police and allow us to deliver more effective solutions.”

Stalking can cause huge psychological damage – panic attacks, nervous break-downs, post-traumatic stress disorder… but despite the human cost, many are still failing to recognise the gravity of the crime.

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