6% of Scots adults ‘harassed’ in last year

SIX per cent of adults have experienced some form of stalking or harassment over the past year, according to newly published figures.

New figures show stalking and harassment are a rising problem.  Picture: Robert Perry
New figures show stalking and harassment are a rising problem.  Picture: Robert Perry
New figures show stalking and harassment are a rising problem. Picture: Robert Perry

Details released by Scotland’s chief statistician show 51 per cent of victims reported receiving unwanted texts or e-mails, with the risk roughly the same for men and women.

However, of those who experienced someone waiting or loitering outside their home or workplace, 71 per cent were female and 29 per cent male.

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But only 20 per cent of all stalking victims said they had reported the most recent incident to the police, compared to 64 per cent of those who had had their home broken into and 48 per cent of those who experienced violent crime.

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2012/13

Published today, the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2012/13: Sexual Victimisation and Stalking also showed that four per cent of women and one per cent of men have experienced at least one form of serious sexual assault since the age of 16.

The figures came as the Scottish Government pledged to examine laws relating to sexual offences and domestic abuse as part of a comprehensive review of the justice system.

Launching the Equally Safe initiative, a new plan to reduce sexual and domestic violence, the government said it would look at whether current laws reflect the “true experience” of victims.

Last month, First Minister Alex Salmond announced the pilot of a new disclosure scheme giving women the right to check on a partner’s violent past.

And Solicitor General Lesley Thomson has called for “bespoke” legislation to be introduced to tackle the scourge of domestic abuse.

Yesterday’s figures show that in 83 per cent of serious sexual assaults - including forcing or attempting to force someone to have intercourse or take part in another sexual activity - the attacker was known to the victim. In 54 per cent of cases the attacker was the victim’s partner.

Equally safe strategy

Separate figures on domestic abuse showed 17 per cent of women had been abused by a partner since the age of 16.

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The government said the Equally Safe strategy would focus on everything from domestic abuse and rape to commercial sexual exploitation and female genital mutilation.

Equalities minister Shona Robison said: “Undoubtedly this is an ambitious strategy but to aspire to anything less is unacceptable. No women or girl in our society should be subject to violence or abuse of any kind whether physical or non-physical.

“It is our plan to eradicate violence against women and work to create a strong and flourishing Scotland where everyone can feel equally safe and respected. There are, however, no quick fixes to this deep-routed problem. We need significant social, cultural and attitudinal change over the long-term, change that calls for sustained commitment from a wide range of partners as well as individuals and communities.”

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House added: “Police Scotland is committed to impacting on all forms of violence across Scotland, and particularly in respect of violence against women and girls.

‘Cornerstone for a national response’

“I believe Equally Safe provides the cornerstone for a national response and I look forward to working with the Scottish Government and our partners to ensure the successful implementation of the priorities and key objectives outlined within it.”

The initiative promises a “comprehensive review” of the Scottish justice system, including consideration of the law relating to sexual offences and domestic abuse.

Solicitor General Lesley Thomson said: “The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) is delighted to support this national strategy.

“It emphasises the ongoing commitment that Scotland has to tackling violence against women and girls. The strategy highlights the need for all partners to continue the modernisation drive in the way we tackle domestic abuse cases. We particularly welcome the commitment to a root and branch review of how the criminal justice system deals with domestic abuse, including plans to monitor our effectiveness and the level of reoffending.

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“Prosecutors are already work closely with the police and other agencies which offer support to victims to ensure that our approach to these appalling crimes is the right one.

“The COPFS had made tacking domestic abuse a priority and last year I appointed a specialist prosecutor in this area to ensure that we have the expertise in bringing perpetrators to justice and offer the necessary support to victims.”