Calls to bring stalkers to justice as cases spiral in the West Midlands

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The overall crime rate for the West Midlands is much higher than the national average

Stalking and harassment cases in the West Midlands have shot up by 99% in the last year, latest government figures show.

In Birmingham the number of cases increased from 10,979 to 21,792 from July 2020 and the end of June 2021, according to the latest report from the Office for National Statistics for England and Wales.

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Domestic abuse has also risen in the West Midlands by 41% as well as the number of rapes rising by 49%.

A major concern is that the overall crime rate for the region is much higher than the national average.

The total number of offences in Birmingham increased by 21%, with police recording 133,464 crimes over the course of the year.

This puts the overall crime rate at 117 per 1,000 people, compared to a national average of 81.3.

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The figures come after women across the West Midlands told BirminghamWorld in recent weeks that they “don’t feel safe”.

Harassment and fears of having drinks spiked have also led to women across Birmingham boycotting bars as part of a national campaign urging bars and clubs to improve safety.

Last month, the force admitted that ‘the voice of women and girls has not been reflected as it should be’ in its policing plans.

This comment followed a West Midlands Police survey, conducted into views on women’s safety after serving Metropolitan Police Officer Wayne Couzens was sentenced to life in prison for the kidnap, rape and murder of Sarah Everard.

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Jeffrey DeMarco, assistant director at the charity Victim Support, said: “Much more needs to be done urgently to tackle both these offences [stalking and harrassment] and to ensure that those who come forward and report them are able to access justice.”

West Midlands Police said: “We recognise that our biggest crime types are stalking and harassment, domestic abuse and rape and we are doing lots to tackle them.”

Stalking and harassment has seen a steep rise in reports over the last year of 99%Stalking and harassment has seen a steep rise in reports over the last year of 99%
Stalking and harassment has seen a steep rise in reports over the last year of 99%

What else do the ONS figures show

Overall, violent crime has soared in Birmingham over the last year - despite a decrease in overall recorded crime across England and Wales.

West Midlands Police recorded 61,209 incidents of violent crime in Birmingham in the last year.

That was an increase of 45% compared to the previous year.

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The rise in stalking and harassment reports are a main factor in this increase.

Hate crime figures are also up. There has been an increase of 43% fuelled by online offending.

Meanwhile the data shows that knife crime and burglaries continue to fall in the region - and robberies and car crime remain low.

The West Midlands has seen a 16% drop in burglaries, robberies reduce by 1% and knife crime by 4.1%.

Other crimes recorded in Birmingham included:

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  • 4,420 sexual offences, a rise of 36%
  • 34,564 theft offences, down 7%
  • 7,981 incidents of criminal damage and arson, down 10%
  • 3,103 drug offences, up 6%
  • 2,018 possession of weapons such as firearms or knives, up 44%
  • 13,721 public order offences, up 55%

The ONS figures show 61,158 rapes were recorded across England and Wales in the 12 months to June – the highest recorded annual figure to date, and up by 10% from 55,779 the year before.

Why have stalking and harassment cases risen in the West Midlands?

Nick Stripe, head of crime statistics at the ONS, said the figures showed overall reductions in the reporting and recording of many crime types during periods of lockdown.

He said: “The rise could be due to an increase in victim reporting as lockdowns eased, an increase in the number of victims, or to an increase in victims’ willingness to report incidents, potentially as a result of high-profile cases and campaigns in recent times.”

What have police said about the statistics

A spokesperson for West Midlands Police, said: “We continue to welcome all reports of this nature and has taken many additional measures to encourage such reports in the last 12 months despite the pandemic.

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“We continue to invest in key initiatives to help victims of stalking and harassment report crime and we are working to better equip officers to deal with these reports. We know that these types of offences can impact on how safe people feel, and we are working to improve officers’ knowledge so they are able to earlier identify patterns of this type of behaviour.

“Protecting and supporting the people within our communities will always remain at the heart of what we do.”

“ We remain committed to taking action to a rise in crime reports we receive; with safeguarding vulnerable people and catching perpetrators of domestic abuse a key focus for the force. Training has also been refreshed to address safety in the home for children who are victims of abuse - training is also given to identify cases for referral or escalation for wider families of domestic abuse cases.”

Deputy chief constable Vanessa Jardine, said: “We recognise that our biggest crime types are stalking and harassment, domestic abuse and rape and we are doing lots to tackle them.

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“We know the last year or so has been tough on relationships and that people have been suffering domestic abuse in both physical and psychological forms.

“But we need people to know there is no need to suffer alone and the force, along with the many charities and refuges across the West Midlands, are ready, willing and able to help.”

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