Stalking and harassment rose by nearly 50 per cent in Chesterfield last year

Stalking and harassment offences in Chesterfield rose by 46 per cent last year - from 844 incidents to 1,232 - new figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 1:25 pm

Derbyshire Constabulary recorded 3,418 incidents of violent crime in Chesterfield in the 12 months to December according to the Government data.

At 32.6 crimes per 1,000 people that was slightly higher than the rate across England and Wales - which stood at 30.

However a rise in stalking and harassment cases is one of the main factors behind the overall increase in violent crime of eight per cent in the town last year.

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Stalking offences in Chesterfield rose by 46 per cent last year. Photo: Pixabay

The news comes after Helen Mitchell, of Chesterfield-based domestic abuse charity the Elm Foundation, said around 50 per cent of clients had experienced stalking.

She described how the offences were often linked to coercive control and branded the mobile phone “a domestic abuser’s charter” - allowing “permanent access”.

While the development of smartphones means jealous partners can demand video calls allowing them to see who their wife or husband is with.

Some go even further and install spyware on their partners’ phones and even their cars to keep tabs on them.

Helen Mitchell, of Chesterfield-based domestic abuse charity the Elm Foundation, says around 50 per cent of clients experienced stalking

In law, stalking is defined as ”fixated and obsessive behaviour” which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or causes and distress.

In many cases it is often marked by the perpetrator surveilling their victim.

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Chesterfield Magistrates Court heard this month how an estranged husband separated from his wife of seven years filmed her in bed after installing a hidden camera.

She discovered the camera in the bedroom of her Chesterfield home after he sent her footage of herself.

The court heard how Daniel Woods, 35, who admitted stalking, also “intended” to place a tracking device on his alienated wife’s car.

Woods, of Cinderhill Road, Nottingham also called his ex-partner 50 times “over a very short period of time”.

In another shocking case the court heard in April how Tideswell man Paul Weir, 52, smeared mud on his ex-girlfriend’s car “two-three times a week” for three months after she broke up with him.

Weir, of Queen Street, was found guilty of stalking after a trial.

Last month a Freedom of Information request by Derbyshire Times found reports of domestic violence in Chesterfield rose to 3,174 in the year 2020-2021 - up from 1,270 in 2018-2019.

Helen, of the Elm Foundation says the reporting rise could be a direct result of more awareness after controlling or coercive behaviour became an offence in 2015.

She said: “Since that legislation has come into effect it’s become evident that domestic abuse is being taken more seriously.

“There have been a lot more programmes and documentaries on TV about domestic abuse and that gives victims more confidence.”

Speaking about the figures, Detective Inspector Beth Lee, operational lead for stalking and coercive control for Derbyshire Police, said recent changes to the way police record crimes could also account for the reporting increase.

When police are called out to, for example, a domestic assault, they also investigate other crimes the victim reports.

She said: “Changing the crime recording process highlighted coercive control, harassment and stalking - which were sometimes not in the forefront of the investigator’s mind.”

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