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Publication - Statistics Publication

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014/15: Sexual Victimisation & Stalking

Published: 17 May 2016
ISBN:
9781786522641

Findings from the SCJS 2014/15 on Sexual Victimisation and Stalking.

58 page PDF

1.1MB

58 page PDF

1.1MB

Contents
Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014/15: Sexual Victimisation & Stalking
2. SCJS Stalking and Harassment

58 page PDF

1.1MB

2. SCJS Stalking and Harassment

2.1 SCJS stalking and harassment : summary of findings

  • Overall, 6.4% of adults experienced at least one type of SCJS stalking and harassment in the last 12 months, and 1.7% experienced more than one type.
  • The most common types of stalking and harassment involved indirect contact. Amongst those who had experienced stalking and harassment in the last 12 months, 45.0% had received unwanted emails and texts, 32.7% received silent, threatening or unwanted phone calls, and 21.9% were subject to obscene or threatening online contact.
  • The survey found no statistically significant difference between the proportion of women and men who experienced at least one type of SCJS stalking and harassment (at 6.8% and 5.9% respectively)
  • Young people, particularly young women, experienced a higher than average level of stalking and harassment. Around one-in-ten (9.7%) 16 to 24 year olds had experienced at least one type of SCJS stalking and harassment in the last 12 months. This figure increased to 12.7% for 16 to 24 year old women.
  • A higher proportion of people living in the 15% most deprived areas experienced at least one type of SCJS stalking and harassment in the last 12 months, compared to those living in the rest of Scotland, at 9.4% and 5.9% respectively.
  • Respondents classified as 'victims' in the main SCJS questionnaire experienced higher levels of stalking and harassment, compared to non-victims, at 11.4% and 5.5% respectively.
  • More than a third (36.4%) of those who had experienced SCJS stalking and harassment in the last 12 months had also experienced partner abuse in the same period.
  • More than half (54.9%) of those who experienced at least one form of SCJS stalking and harassment in the last 12 months knew the offender in some way, whilst 15% said the offender was their partner. Nearly a third (31%) did not know the offender at all.
  • Around one fifth of those (18.9%) who experienced at least one type of SCJS stalking and harassment in the last 12 months said that the police came to know about the most recent incident. More women than men said that the police came to know about the most recent incident (at 23.2% and 13.5% respectively).

2.2 Introduction

The terms 'stalking' and 'harassment' are often used interchangeably (Morris et al., 2002), and taken together, usually refer to intentional repetitive behaviours that cause fear, upset and annoyance to the victim. (Morris et al. 2002).

Box 2.1 Stalking and the criminal law in Scotland

In Scotland, the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 legislates for the offence of stalking. Prior to that Act, stalking was generally prosecuted using common law offences, such as breach of the peace. Under the 2010 Act, an offence occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct on at least two separate occasions, which causes another person to feel fear or alarm, where the accused person intended, or knew or ought to have known, that their conduct would cause fear and alarm.

Unlike more clear-cut types of crime (for example, house-breaking or assault), the classification of stalking is more subjective, insofar as the offence is dependent on whether or not the victim felt afraid.

While the offence of stalking requires that the offender engages in a course of conduct, individual instances of threatening behaviour, or the sending of obscene or threatening messages may be prosecuted using, for example, the offence of 'threatening and abusive behaviour', or offences under the Communications Act 2003

2.3 Defining SCJS stalking and harassment

The self-completion module asks respondents if they have experienced one or more of the following types of incidents:

  • Being sent unwanted letters or cards on a number of occasions that were either obscene or threatening
  • Being sent unwanted emails or text messages on a number of occasions that were either obscene or threatening
  • Receiving a number of unwanted approaches via social networking sites that were either obscene or threatening
  • Receiving a number of obscene, threatening, nuisance or silent telephone calls
  • Having someone waiting outside their home or workplace on more than one occasion
  • Being followed around and watched on more than one occasion

This chapter provides information on these six behaviours, each of which can be viewed as a form of stalking and harassment. However, the data do not show whether respondents themselves viewed their experiences as stalking or harassment. To highlight this distinction, the report refers to ' SCJS stalking and harassment'.

The chapter examines the overall and varying risk of SCJS stalking and harassment in the last 12 months; victim-offender relationships; reporting to the police; and cyberstalking, which refers to harassment or stalking via electronic communication (for example, text messages, emails and social network sites).

2.4 Overall risk of SCJS stalking and harassment

Overall, 6.4% of respondents had experienced at least one form of SCJS stalking and harassment in the last 12 months, whilst 1.7% had experienced more than one type. To put these figures in context, results from the SCJS 2014/15 main questionnaire show that there was 2.6% risk of being a victim of violent crime in the same period ( Main Finding report Figure 4.1).

2.4.1 Stalking and harassment trends

A change in questionnaire design in 2012/13 to better reflect the changing nature of stalking and harassment means that the scope for direct comparison of stalking and harassment trends over time is, to some extent, limited.

In the three survey sweeps, between 2008/09 and 2010/11, respondents were asked if they had received 'correspondence' that was obscene or threatening. In 2012/13 the questionnaire design was changed to ask respondents about three separate types of correspondence: letters and cards; emails and text messages; and contact via social networking sites.

Bearing in mind this caveat, between 2008/09 and 2014/15 the overall risk of experiencing at least one form of SCJS stalking and harassment did not change (the apparent differences shown below in Table 2.1 are not statistically significant).

Looking just at the last two sweeps of the survey only, the risk of SCJS stalking and harassment (at least one type, and more than one types) did not change between 2012/13 and 2014/15 (again, (the apparent differences shown below in Table 2.1 are not statistically significant).

Table 2.1 presents the results.

Table 2.1 Trends in types of SCJS stalking and harassment experienced in the last 12 months (%)

Type of SCJS stalking or harassment (%) 2008/09 2009/10 2010/11 2012/13 2014/15
Received unwanted correspondence that was obscene or threatening 3.2% 2.7% 2.5% n/a n/a
Received unwanted obscene or threatening texts or emails n/a n/a n/a 2.9% 2.9%
Received unwanted obscene or threatening contact via social network sites n/a n/a n/a 1.3% 1.4%
Received unwanted obscene or threatening letters or cards n/a n/a n/a 0.7% 0.8%
Received unwanted obscene, threatening, nuisance or silent phone calls 2.3% 2.6% 2.1% 1.9% 2.1%
Person waited or loitered outside your home 1.0% 0.9% 1.0% 0.7% 1.0%
Followed around and watched more than once 1.4% 1.3% 1.1% 0.7% 0.8%
Victim of at least one form of stalking/harassment 6.1% 5.6% 5.2% 5.7% 6.4%
Base 10,974 13,418 10,999 10,235 9,986

Bases: All respondents (adults aged 16 years and over) SCJS 2008/09, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2012/13, 2014/15
Variable names: SHELECT, SHSOCIAL, SHPOST, SHCALLS, SHLOIT, SHFOLL, SH_ANY

2.5 Types of stalking and harassment

Figure 2.1 below shows the distribution of different types of stalking and harassment amongst those who experienced at least one form of SCJS stalking and harassment. The most common type of SCJS stalking and harassment involved unwanted texts or emails, experienced by 45.0% of victims. These findings are consistent with the results of the 2012/13 survey.

Figure 2.1 Types of harassment and stalking experienced by victims in the last 12 months (%)

Figure 2.1 Types of harassment and stalking experienced by victims in the last 12 months (%)

Base: Adults who reported at least one type of stalking or harassment in the last 12 months (601).
Variables names: SH_ANY (by) SHELECT, SHCALLS, SHOCIAL, SHFOLL, SHLOIT, SHPOST

2.6 Varying risk of stalking and harassment

The risk of SCJS stalking and harassment varied by age group, victim status (in the main questionnaire) and deprivation. Note that the apparent difference by gender is not statistically significant (see Section 2.3.1 for further discussion of this result). Table 2.2 shows the results.

Table 2.2 Varying risk of at least one form of stalking/harassment in the last 12 months, by social characteristics (%)

Social characteristics   % adults Base
Gender (non-sig.) Male 6.0% 4,528
Female 6.8% 5,458
Age-group 16-24 9.7% 836
25-34 9.2% 1,421
35-44 8.0% 1,596
45-54 7.7% 1,794
55-64 3.1% 1,697
65 or over 2.2% 2,642
Victim status in the main questionnaire 1 Victim 11.4% 1,398
Non-victim 5.5% 8,588
Socio-economic Deprivation 15% most deprived 9.4% 1,412
Rest of Scotland 5.9% 8,574
All adults   6.4% 9,986

Base: All respondents (adults aged 16 years and over)
Variable names: SH_ANY (by) QDGEN, AGEBREAKS, VICFLAG3, SIMD_TOP
1 A victim is defined as a respondent who reported crimes or offences in the main questionnaire (excluding sexual offences and threats) that are within the scope of the survey, took place in Scotland, and occurred within the reference period.

2.6.1 Stalking, harassment and gender

Table 2.2 shows that the survey found no difference in the risk of SCJS stalking or harassment in the last 12 months for men and women, at 6.0% and 6.8% respectively. This result is also consistent with the 2012/13 SCJS, which found no statistically significant differences in the overall risk of stalking in terms of gender.

Breaking these results down further, however, the risk of SCJS stalking was higher among women in the 16 to 24 age group (12.7%), compared to men in the same age group (6.7%).

In general, these results are inconsistent with international research evidence which suggests that stalking disproportionately falls on women (Sheridan and Grant, 2007; Breiding et al., 2011). The finding is also inconsistent with the Crime Survey of England and Wales ( CSEW) 2012/13, which reported that 4% of women and 1.9% of men had experienced stalking and harassment in the last year ( ONS, 2014; 2). The SCJS results should be interpreted with caution.

A possible explanation for the difference between the SCJS and CSEW relates to questionnaire design. Whilst both surveys ask respondents about similar experiences of stalking and harassment, the definition in the CSEW 2012/13 explicitly refers to incidents that may have resulted in 'fear, alarm or distress'. By contrast, the definition in the SCJS does not refer to the results of the stalking behaviour

Box 2.1 shows the respective definitions of stalking and harassment in the CSEW and SCJS.

Box 2.1 Descriptions of stalking and harassment, CSEW and SCJS

Crime Survey of England and Wales 2012/13
'People may sometimes be pestered or harassed, either by someone they know or a stranger. This person might do things like phoning or writing, following them, waiting outside their home or work place or putting obscene or threatening information on the internet that may have caused fear, alarm or distress.'

Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014/15
'People may sometimes be pestered or harassed, either by someone they know or a stranger. This person might do things like phoning or writing, following them or waiting outside their home or work place.'

This difference in the way that stalking and harassment is defined may mean that the CSEW data capture a higher proportion of incidents that resulted in fear, alarm or distress than the SCJS. For example, the SCJS may also capture incidents that respondents found irritating or annoying, which could be distributed more evenly in terms of gender.

The results may also be affected by the small sample sizes in Scotand, compared to England and Wales, making it more difficult to detect significant differences between different groups of the population

The respective definitions may also help to explain the overall higher prevalence of SCJS stalking and harassment (6.4%), compared to CSEW stalking and harassment (3%) ( ONS, 2014; 7).

Gender and types of stalking and harassment

Some gender differences do emerge in relation to different types of SCJS stalking and harassment.

Looking at the six different types of SCJS stalking and harassment, two categories did not vary by gender. These were: receiving silent, threatening or obscene phone calls, and having some waiting or loitering.

The remaining four categories varied by gender. A higher proportion of women than men had experienced three types of stalking and harassment. These were: being followed/watched, unwanted online approaches and threatening/obscene emails and texts.

Figure 2.2 shows the results.

Figure 2.2 SCJS Stalking and harassment in the last 12 months, by gender (%)

Figure 2.2 SCJS Stalking and harassment in the last 12 months, by gender (%)

Base: Adults in each category: Letters/cards (80), waiting/loitering outside home or work (107), telephone calls (208), emails/text messages (278), social networking (132), followed/watched (86)
Variable names: QDGEN (by) SHPOST, SHLOIT, SHCALLS, SHELECT, SHOCIAL, SHFOLL

Note that the risk of being followed and watched was higher for women than men, at 72.6% and 27.4% respectively; however, there were no statistically significant differences by gender in relation to someone waiting or loitering (a similar type of behaviour).

This disparity may arise from the respondent's interpretation of the questions, which are likely to tap into similar experiences (loitering, being followed or watched). Overall, the distribution of different types of SCJS stalking and harassment in terms of gender is not clear-cut and might warrant further investigation.

2.6.2 Stalking, harassment and other types of victimisation

Table 2.2 shows that the risk of stalking and harassment in the last 12 months was higher among respondents classified as 'victims' in the main SCJS questionnaire, compared to respondents classified at non-victims, at 11.4% and 5.5% respectively.

More than a third (36.4%) of those who had experienced SCJS stalking and harassment in the last 12 months had also experienced partner abuse in the same period.

2.6.3 Stalking, harassment and deprivation

The risk of SCJS stalking and harassment within the past 12 months was associated with socio-economic deprivation. Table 2.2 shows that 9.4% of those living within the 15% most deprived areas of Scotland reported at least one type of SCJS stalking and harassment in the last 12 months, compared to 5.9% of those living in the rest of Scotland.

Respondents were also asked how difficult it would be for the household to meet £100 to meet an unexpected expense. Unlike neighbourhood measures of deprivation, this question addresses the issue of immediate access to funds.

Those who said it was impossible or a big problem to find £100 to meet an unexpected expense were more likely to have experienced SCJS stalking and harassment, compared to those who said it would be 'no problem', at 13.6% and 5.3% respectively.

2.7 Relationship with the offender/s

The relationship between victims and offenders is not straightforward. More than half (54.9%) of those who experienced at least one form of SCJS stalking and harassment in the last 12 months knew the offender in some way, whilst 15.0% said the offender was their partner. However, just under a third (30.8%) described the offender as 'someone I had never seen before'

Of those who had experienced more than one form of SCJS stalking and harassment in the last 12 months ( n =171), 65.5% said that the same offender was involved.

Below, Figure 2.3 shows the relationship between the victim and offender in relation to the most recent (or only) incident of SCJS stalking or harassment in the last 12 months.

Figure 2.3 Victim-offender relationships in the most recent (or only) incident of stalking or harassment in the last 12 months (%)

Figure 2.3 Victim-offender relationships in the most recent (or only) incident of stalking or harassment in the last 12 months (%)

Base: Adults who had experienced at least one form of stalking and harassment in the last 12 months (601)
Variable names: SH_2

2.8 Reporting to the police

Respondents who had experienced at least one incident of SCJS stalking and harassment in the last 12 months were asked if the police were informed about the most recent (or only) incident of to the police. Of these respondents ( n = 601), 18.9% said that the police came to know about the most recent incident.

The reporting rate for stalking and harassment is comparatively low, when compared to other crimes in the main SCJS questionnaire. The 2014/15 Main Findings report showed that 38% of crimes were reported to the police. Looking at the different crime types in the main survey, estimated reporting rates ranged from 28% for 'other household theft' (including bicycle theft) to 62% for housebreaking. Forty four per cent of violent crime in the main SCJS survey was reported to the police (see Figure 6.1 in the Main Findings report).

Reporting behaviour varied slightly according to the type of stalking and harassment. Notably, reporting rates were higher than average amongst those who had been followed and watched. Figure 2.4 shows the results.

Figure 2.4 Reporting rates for different types of SCJS stalking and harassment (%)

Figure 2.4 Reporting rates for different types of SCJS stalking and harassment (%)

Base: Adults in each category. Phone calls (208), emails/texts (278), contact via social network site (132), letters/cards (80), waiting/loitering outside home/work (107), followed and watched (86)
Variable names: SH_6 (by) SHELECT, SHPOST, SHOCIAL, SHCALLS, SHFOLL, SHLOIT

2.8.1 Reporting to the police and gender

More women than men said that the police came to know about the most recent incident (at 23.2% and 13.5% respectively). This difference may reflect differences between men and women in relation to the degree of fear and distress experienced that is not captured by the survey questions (see Box 2.1 )

2.8.2 Reasons for non-reporting

The most common reason given for not reporting the most recent (or only) incident of SCJS stalking and harassment to the police was that it was considered to be too trivial (39.1%), followed by the victim dealing with the matter themselves (27.0%).

Figure 2.5 shows the reasons cited for not reporting the most recent incident (or only) incident of stalking and harassment to the police.

Figure 2.5 Reasons for not reporting the most recent incident (or only) of stalking or harassment to the police (%)

Figure 2.5 Reasons for not reporting the most recent incident (or only) of stalking or harassment to the police (%)

Base: Adults who had experienced stalking or harassment incident in the last year (476)
Variable names: SH_6i_

2.9 Cyberstalking and cyberharassment

In the 2012/13 and 2014/15 sweeps, two questions were introduced that ask respondents about their experiences of stalking and harassment via electronic communications, also known as 'cyberstalking' or 'cyberharassment' (see Box 2.2).

Box 2.2 Definitions of cyberstalking and cyberharassment

Cyberstalking: A course of action (more than one incident), perpetuated through electronic means, which causes stress or alarm.

Cyberharassment: Intimidation, repeated or otherwise, through electronic means (Maple et al. 2011; 4)

In both sweeps, unwanted texts and emails were the most common form of stalking behaviour reported in the survey: 45.0% in 2014/15 and 51% in 2012/13 (this apparent difference between the two sweeps is not statistically significant).

In 2014/15, 21.9% said that they received unwanted contact via social network sites, which again, is consistent with the 2012/13 SCJS (24%).

The comparative ease with which offenders can contact victims without recourse, either proximal or verbal contact, may help to explain the prevalence and non-gendered nature of cyber-stalking. For example, Sheridan and Grant suggest that the internet may be 'particularly attractive to would-be harassers', given that the 'relative anonymity, the lack of social status cues, and opportunities for disinhibited behaviour' can promote 'greater risk-taking and asocial behaviour' (2007; 628).


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