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‘Stalked for Eight Years by a Man I Never Met’: Police Urged to Take Harassment More Seriously as Conviction Rates ‘Woefully Low’

A victim of stalking and harassment has spoken out as official figures show just how prevalent the crime is in the UK


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“For as long as eight years, my life was shadowed by a man unknown to me, who had made me the object of his obsession,” Diana, a visual artist, recalled of a situation that left her “gasping on the ground in an alleyway, shivering and crying”.

The man first contacted Diana by commenting on her blog in 2016 and, over the next several years, used more than 35 different social media accounts to reach and track her from Malaysia to the UK.

After commenting on her travel and photography post, the man emailed Diana with a project proposal that she “politely rejected”, before he got in touch again with “weird delusional phrases referring to me as love”.

Diana did not engage with the man further but he set out to find her on “every other digital platform and sought to find me at places where I hang out, and even my house”.

When she discovered the man’s details, Diana reached out to his family to ask them to intervene but, she claims, they dismissed her concerns as a “simple crush”.

In Malaysia, despite making two complaints to police, nothing was done, Diana said, as there were “no explicit elements of threat”.

“It cumulated over eight years to the point where he knew where I lived, had sought out and met my family, attended my public engagement events, pursued me across the world from Malaysia to the UK, and sent me videos through social media of him masturbating to my photos.”

Every time Diana blocked the man’s social media accounts, he made new ones, “at last count, there were over 35 accounts in different versions of his name”.


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In December 2022, the man left a note for Diana with her course tutor. “That was when I realised that he was crazy enough to travel across the world and was capable of physically hurting me,” she said.

Diana was so scared that she would layer herself in unrecognisable clothing, change her walking routes, and keep her curtains closed: “I was too scared to engage in my work in public or socialise. For three months, I barely stepped outside of the house.”

Last April, when Diana started volunteering as a photographer with a charity group, she said “he found me at one of the public events” and she called the police.

Once Diana had secured a police case number, she was told to call if she ever saw the man within her vicinity – which led to him being bailed pending a court hearing in June 2023.

Because his passport was not collected, Diana said the man returned to Malaysia.

Diana returned to Kuala Lumpur for her best friend’s wedding in July 2023. “He had persisted under the delusion that we were an item, despite my numerous attempts to stop him,” she said.

Diana said police were involved once more and, as of February, the man is in a psychiatric facility in Malaysia.

Recounting the impact he had on her life, Diana said: “I couldn’t live my life safely or be happy for my loved ones. There was no breathing room as I had to constantly be on alert. I couldn’t do my work as a photographer, I feared he might find me outside. I was cut off from the world, my livelihood, my hobbies, and my social life.” 

Freedom of Information Requests have revealed the magnitude of the crime in the UK, from 1 January 2022 to 1 November 2023, although not every police force responded.

Greater Manchester Police received 97,025 reports of stalking and harassment. From those claims, 37,780 victims declined to pursue the investigation after the suspect had been identified. 

Detective Chief Inspector Damian Simpson of GMP’s public protection governance unit told Byline Times that the force will “always record to investigate” but said people don’t always complain with the hope of securing a conviction, but to ensure safeguarding measures are offered and put in place. “This can also introduce partnership work and consideration of disclosing at risk information under Claire’s Law.”

The Metropolitan Police saw a slight increase in stalking and harassment reports from female victims, from 8674 to 8780 and an increase in pending outcomes with 296 in 2022 to 2011 in 2023. 

Commander Kevin Southworth, the Met lead for public protection, said the force is “determined to rebuild trust with women and girls and do more to protect them”.

“We have let victims of violence and stalking down, and we are working hard to change this,” he said. “We’ve already made solid progress – doubling our charges for rape since 2021, doubling the number of stalking protection orders, which are court orders to stop stalkers, and using data to target the most predatory male offenders and bring them to justice.”  


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Equal rights activist Patsy Stevenson said she was “not surprised” so many victims had decided not to pursue convictions after lodging complaints as “it is hard to prove someone is stalking you”.

She suggested police often don’t help matters by making the victim feel like they are at fault: “They will say that you led them on and, if you go through with this, it will take a really long time, you will have to go through a lot. It will be gruelling, horrendous.”

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust works to prevent stalking and harassment in the UK and runs the National Stalking Helpline, which has supported more than 75,000 victims of stalking.

In 2022, the trust submitted a “super-complaint” on behalf of the National Stalking Consortium which found “systemic issues with the police response to stalking”.

“We are still concerned that cases of stalking are not being taken seriously by the police, with conviction rates remaining woefully low and stalking services working at capacity to support victims, Tallulah Belassie-Page, senior policy and campaigns officer said.

It is calling for the College of Policing to mandate specialist training for officers who deal with stalking to ensure that victims receive the right support. 

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