The law and what to do if it happens to you

A stalking survivor has called for stronger legislation to protect victims. (Getty Images)

A stalking victim has called for a review of legislation after describing the sentence of her 19-year stalker as “insulting”.

Claire Waxman said the unpopularity of 47-year-old Elliot Fogel, whom she met shortly in college, “crippled my life” and left her worried about the safety of her children.

In October, Fogel was found guilty of violating a life restraining order for the sixth time and sentenced to 16 months in prison, but he was released immediately as he was already in custody awaiting trial.

London Victims Commissioner Ms Waxman said she was “absolutely shocked” by the punishment, describing stalking as a “psychological horror” crime that was “so intrusive into every aspect of your life that it changes about you as a person”.

“It’s absolutely terrifying,” she told the BBC news night“I know what he’s been through since he was released last week, the safety plans that have to be put in place for the kids, their school, my workplace, and everything I have to think about again now. It comes at a price.”

Fogel reportedly first placed a restraining order against him in 2005. His stalking of Waxman included Googling her name more than 40,000 times over a 12-month period, showing up at her work and home, and impersonating her intended parents. The nursery for her children.

As a result of her experience, the mum-of-two was diagnosed with PTSD.

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Back in September, Waxman urged the government in a statement to “fundamentally strengthen” the current Victims Act, committing to long-term investment in the justice system and support services, and introducing new stalking legislation.

“I will call on the government to reform the law and create an independent anti-stalking legislation,” she said.

“It needs to recognise that stalking is a brutal crime of psychological horror that causes victims to suffer for years.

“The ‘summary’ offence with a maximum sentence of six months does not reflect the seriousness and lasting damage of stalking.”

Stock photo of a stalking victim looking worried after checking her phone.  (Getty Images)Stock photo of a stalking victim looking worried after checking her phone.  (Getty Images)

Tracking can be in-person or online, and it can be very distressing. (Getty Images)

Ms Waxman told the BBC she believed the criminal justice system was “not serious enough” about stalking and wanted to see tougher sentences for repeated breaches of restraining orders.

She believes the punishment should automatically increase on a second or third offense.

Tracking: Facts

The Victim Support Center says stalking can happen to anyone and can be described as constant and unwanted attention that makes you feel stalked and harassed.

“The stalker can be an ex-spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, acquaintance, work co-worker or stranger,” the site reads.

“it [stalking] This includes acting on two or more occasions, directed or directed at you by another person, causing you to feel alarmed or distressed, or fear that violence may be used against you. “

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) Crime Survey for England and Wales 2022, stalking and harassment offences rose to 718,317, a 7% increase on the year to June 2021.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a charity supporting stalking victims, estimates that only 0.1 per cent of cases result in a conviction.

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How can I tell if I’m being followed?

While there is no legal definition of stalking in England and Wales, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust defines it as: a pattern of stubborn and compulsive behaviour that is intrusive and causes fear of violence or panic and distress to the victim.

“Stalking is unwelcome and repetitive, and it is almost always carried out (or planned) by one person on another,” explains Violet Alvarez from the charity’s policy and activities team.

Stalking is a common crime affecting one in five women and one in 10 men in their lifetime in England and Wales, a figure similar to domestic abuse cases.

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Stalking is a psychological horror crime that affects every aspect of a victim’s life, often in long-term and traumatic ways, Alvarez said.

“A study by Sussex Stalking Support and the University of Bedfordshire’s National Centre for Cyberstalking Research in conjunction with the Suzy Lamplugh Trust has shown that around one in five stalking victims will experience symptoms consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). consequences of stalking,” she explained.

“As many as 91% reported mental health problems after being followed, and 78% met clinical criteria for PTSD.”

Tracking could have far-reaching consequences, Alvarez said.

She explained: “It is very difficult for victims to move house, change careers, lose relationships and social lives, have significant financial impact from being stalked, and remain in a state of anxiety and hypervigilance for years after the stalking ends. Common.”

Stock image of stalking victim hidden inside.  (Getty Images)Stock image of stalking victim hidden inside.  (Getty Images)

In England and Wales, one in five women and one in ten men are victims of stalking during their lifetime. (Getty Images)

Tracking: Legal

From 25 November 2012, the Prevention of Harassment Act was amended to make stalking a specific offence for the first time in England and Wales.

Meanwhile, in January 2020, a new stalking protection order (SPO) allowed courts in England and Wales to act faster to bar stalkers from contacting victims or visiting their home, work or study.

In addition to prohibiting the abuser from approaching or contacting the victim, the SPO can also force the stalker to seek professional help.

The orders usually last for at least two years, and violations are considered criminal offenses punishable by up to five years in prison.

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What to do if you think you’re being followed

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust website has some general tips and advice for those who suspect they are being stalked.

  • Do not engage with your stalker in any way.

  • If you feel comfortable, discuss the harassment with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers or your manager. They may help by collecting more evidence or taking protective measures on your behalf.

  • Be aware of how much of your personal information is in the public domain and take steps to protect your data.

  • Most importantly, trust your gut.

What to do if you are body tracked

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust recommends the following:

  • Consider carrying a personal siren.

  • Change your routine and take a different route to and from get off work.

  • Know where the nearest safe place is, such as a police station. However, if you don’t have one nearby, you can use a 24-hour supermarket with security and CCTV.

  • Discuss with the police the use of CCTV and/or installing a panic button in your home.

  • Consider installing an alarm system.

  • Before you leave the house or go to bed, make sure all your doors and windows are locked.

A stock image of a stalking victim who looks nervous as she looks out the window.  (Getty Images)A stock image of a stalking victim who looks nervous as she looks out the window.  (Getty Images)

There are steps you can take if you think you are being followed. (Getty Images)

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Tips and advice from Suzy Lamplugh if you think you’re experiencing cyberstalking

  • Change passwords frequently and don’t use the same password for everything.

  • Let your computer check for malware and key logging software.

  • Limit the amount of information you share about yourself on social networking sites, and check your privacy settings to make sure you don’t reveal more information than you expect.

  • Keep your antivirus software up to date.

  • Report any tracking activity on the site to the administrator. If they don’t take action, contact the web hosting company.

  • You can find more information here

“We view online and offline behavior as forms of stalking, whether it’s unwanted communication through social media, stalking or vexatious complaints,” Alvarez added.

“If you encounter cyberstalking, we recommend that you log all communications from the stalker and seek expert help if you think your device has been hacked.”

If you are in immediate danger, you should call 999.

If you are a victim of stalking we always urge you to call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 for expert support or visit our website www.suzylamplugh.org

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