The number of stalking offences recorded in Fife have soared over the past five years, according to shocking new figures.
While stalking cases are often associated with celebrities, statistics have revealed that it does in fact affect a significant number of people in Fife and is often associated with domestic abuse.
Around six times as many charges were brought in the Kingdom in relation to stalking last year than in 2011/12, with officers typically seeing around 10 cases a month compared to just two five years ago.
Just 18 charges were recorded back then, but that figure has risen sharply to the 121 dealt with in Fife for 2015/16.
The news comes just days after singer Lily Allen revealed that she had been the victim of a seven-year stalking ordeal that had culminated in Perth man Alex Gray breaking into her home while she slept.
Councillor Tim Brett, who is a member of Fife’s safer communities committee, said the increasing number of stalking cases should rightly be a matter of concern.
“This is a serious offence that can cause much distress to those who are subject to it and is often linked to domestic abuse,” he said.
“I am pleased that, whilst the number of offences have been rising, the police have this as a priority and with their partner agencies are taking this seriously and are tackling this vigorously.”
According to Police Scotland figures, around three quarters (77.7%) of the cases recorded in Fife last year related to domestic abuse, compared to just 61.1% in 2011/12.
Councillor Margaret Kennedy, who chairs Fife’s safer communities committee, said stalking can be extremely frightening and can have a profound effect on people’s lives, going on to add that the increase in crimes can be partly put down to better recognition of the behaviour and its impact on victims.
“In Scotland, stalking is a common law offence,” she said.
“It is clearly recognised that stalking is a range of unwanted behaviours carried out by one person, or persons, against another.
“Agencies in Fife have been working together to increase their understanding of stalking so we can improve on intervention rates and the support available for victims.
“I would urge anyone who is concerned about stalking to share their concerns and get help.”
Fife’s Domestic and Sexual Abuse Partnership said it was keen to remind people that stalking is about a course of conduct, rather than isolated incidents.
Typical behaviours include following or surveillance; standing outside someone’s home, school, place of work; verbal abuse or humiliation in public; sending unsolicited, threatening or unwanted mail, text messages or emails; sending unwanted or unsolicited gifts; damage to property; physical or sexual assault; and threats towards someone, members of their family or their pets.
Anyone with concerns should contact Police Scotland on 101, Fife Women’s Aid on 0808 802 5555 or the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300.