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Penny Macmillan reports
"Imagine being watched every hour of every day for two years"
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Thursday, 28 June, 2001, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Stalking studied by university
The university will study the incidence of stalking
Researchers in Aberdeen are to carry out a major study into stalking to help gauge the need for new anti-harassment laws.

The Scottish Executive has asked academics at Robert Gordon University to investigate the nature of stalking incidents and how widespread the problem is.

The research is part of an action plan set out earlier this year by Justice Minister Jim Wallace and is being carried out jointly with the statistical organisation, System Three Social Research.

Inquiries will look at the current civil and criminal laws, how complaints are dealt with and the experiences of police officers, lawyers and victims.

We are determined to tackle the problem of stalking and this research is vital to make sure we get it right

Deputy justice minister Iain Gray
Victims of stalkers have campaigned for years for quicker action by police and for tougher penalties.

At present, prosecutors normally treat stalking as a breach of the peace - which many victims say does not give them the protection they need.

The research team is due to publish a report after completing its findings in May next year.

Deputy justice minister Iain Gray said the study would be used by ministers as they decide whether fresh legislation is needed on stalking and harassment.

He said: "We need to develop a better understanding of stalking and harassment in Scotland so we can work towards improving the protection which our laws and services give to victims.

Public concern

"Stalking and harassment are serious offences that warrant a substantial amount of public concern.

"We are determined to tackle the problem of stalking and this research is vital to make sure we get it right."

The study has been welcomed by Victim Support Scotland, who said existing measures have often failed to provide the protection needed by the public.

Liberal Democrat Gordon MSP Nora Radcliffe, a member of Holyrood's Justice 1 Committee, also welcomed the research.

"Only when we have a full understanding of the problem can we then tackle it and alleviate the torment that victims go through," she said.

"The research on stalking and the Protection from Abuse Bill demonstrates how seriously the executive is taking crimes of this nature.

"It shows a commitment to a programme for action for protecting victims of abuse and harassment."

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01 Aug 00 | UK
Stalkers' register proposed
27 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Police warn Street 'stalker'
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