Stalking offenses in some parts of Greater Manchester were among the highest across the country last year, figures suggest. Two boroughs were among the worst 10 areas for stalking across England in 2021.
Nearly 900 stalking offenses were logged by police in the Oldham community safety partnership area, according to the latest data from the Home Office, with a further 837 recorded in Tameside. That’s the equivalent to 3.7 cases for every 1,000 of the local population in both areas.
Both boroughs have the joint-sixth highest rate of recorded incidents of stalking among hundreds of areas across England and Wales. In Greater Manchester, they were followed by Rochdale, where 3.6 offenses were recorded per 1,000 residents – the joint-tenth highest rate.
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A total of 7,984 stalking offenses were recorded by Greater Manchester Police during 2021. However, the Home Office said some offenses recorded in the area had been incorrectly allocated to two Community Safety Partnership (CSP) areas.
Separate figures show that of 7,606 stalking cases closed by the force last year, only 485 (six per cent) resulted in a suspect being charged. And a further 4,744 (62 per cent) of stalking cases were closed after the alleged victim did not support further action.
Some of the small percentage of stalking cases that have made it to Greater Manchester’s courts in the last year included a film director who conducted a “vile” stalking campaign against a woman he met at a university in Manchester.
Riagain Grainger, 22, had worked with Hollywood A-listers but was jailed in February this year for two-and-a-half years after he sent chilling messages to her on social media as well as uploading pictures of her on to porn websites.
In January last year, Nicholas Doyle was jailed for two years after stalking his ex-girlfriend for 17 months – to the point he drove her out of her home. He also messaged her on fake Facebook accounts, rang her 61 times in one hour and drained her from her bank account.
Doyle, 30, had been in a relationship with the woman for three years, but following a brief reconciliation they split up in May 2019. But he continued to bombard the woman with messages, calls and threats, stating he would ‘ruin her life’ if she didn’t speak to him, Manchester Crown Court heard.
A jilted boyfriend who bombarded his ex-lover with gifts and flowers after she broke off their nine-month affair was spared jail after stalking her and posting false messages about her former husband. Neil Rowlinson, 57, sent red roses, £300 worth of jewellery, Chanel No 5 perfume and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne in a bid to win the woman back.
Police warned plumber Rowlinson, from Stockport, Greater Manchester to stay away but he then turned on the woman’s ex-husband instead – repeatedly posting Facebook messages falsely smearing him as a paedophile in the mistaken belief the former couple were back together.
At Tameside magistrates court last November, Rowlinson admitted stalking between and sending false messages and was sentenced to 12 weeks in jail suspended for two years. He was also ordered to pay the victims a total of £400 in compensation.
Stalking is defined as a pattern of repeated, unwanted behavior that causes someone to feel distressed or scared. It could include sending regular gifts or unwanted messages but may also involve physical and sexual contact. According to the stalking charity the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, the majority of people who contact its helpline have been stalked by an ex-partner or someone they know.
Across England and Wales, police recorded more than 117,000 stalking offenses last year – equivalent to more than 300 every day. Of around 109,000 stalking cases closed by police across the two nations over the period, 7,069 (7%) resulted in a charge or summons – similar to the overall charge rate of 8%. But 57,402 (53%) were closed after the alleged victim did not support further action, compared to 29% for all crimes.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust has called for extra funding for trained specialists to support victims of stalking, which it says will help improve charge and conviction rates. Dame Vera Baird QC, Victim’s Commissioner for England and Wales, has backed the charity’s call for dedicated “stalking advocates.”
She said: “Stalking is a dangerous and insidious crime and the impact on the victim can be devastating. Yet all too often, victims are not receiving the criminal justice outcomes that might be expected, underlining the need for specialist stalking support.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Stalking is an insidious crime that leaves many victims psychologically distressed. The Government takes its response to stalking extremely seriously, which is why we have tripled our funding to the National Stalking Helpline, introduced Stalking Protection Orders and doubled the maximum sentence for stalking from five to 10 years.
“Our Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy also focuses on increasing support for survivors, bringing perpetrators to justice and prioritizing prevention. That is why we’re improving our systems to better identify the risk perpetrators pose, and enabling more effective data sharing between the police and other frontline agencies, so that potential stalkers are stopped from being able to harm innocent victims.”
Number of stalking offenses by each CSP area
Oldham – 878 offenses recorded equaling 3.7 per 1,000 of the population.
Tameside – 837 offenses recorded equaling 3.7 per 1,000 of the population.
Rochdale – 806 offenses recorded equaling 3.6 per 1,000 of the population
Manchester – 1,644 offenses recorded equaling 3.0 per 1,000 of the population.
Bolton – 805 offenses recorded equaling 2.8 per 1,000 of the population.
Salford – 727 offenses recorded equaling 2.8 per 1,000 of the population.
Wigan – 803 offenses recorded equaling 2.4 per 1,000 of the population.
Bury – 434 offenses recorded equaling 2.3 per 1,000 of the population.
Trafford – 424 offenses recorded equaling 1.8 per 1,000 of the population.
Stockport – 506 offenses recorded equaling 1.7 per 1,000 of the population.
Manchester Airport – 0 offenses recorded.
Unassigned Greater Manchester – 102 offenses recorded.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.