Stalking has been a criminal offence in Australia since the 1990s, making it an interesting jurisdiction to look at from the Irish perspective. According to a report released last week, over 25,000 stalking offences were recorded by police and nearly 7,000 were sentenced by courts in Victoria Australia int the las 10 years.
Research suggests a widespread belief in the community that most stalking occurs between strangers. Contrary to that perception, the report finds that, from 2016 to 2020, more than two-thirds of sentenced stalking offences (68%) involved family violence. So did more than half of all stalking offences recorded by police (52%): a growing number of those incidents involved stalking by former partners, usually by repeatedly contacting the victim.
Other key findings include the following:
Between 2011 and 2020, police recorded 25,130 stalking offences (about 2,500 per year), and courts sentenced offenders for 6,832 stalking offences (about 680 per year).
Most recorded offenders were male (87%), and most victims were female (80%).
Imprisonment was more common in family violence cases than in non-family violence cases, but gender was a stronger predictor of imprisonment: male offenders were more likely than female offenders to receive a prison sentence regardless of whether the case involved family violence.
There were regional differences in the prevalence of stalking charges and sentencing outcomes: Gippsland, in particular, accounts for 4% of Victoria’s population but 12% of sentenced stalking charges. This may be linked to limited support services and socioeconomic disadvantage.
Stalking was rarely the only offence in the case (20% of cases): the most common co-sentenced offence was a breach of a family violence safety notice or intervention order (39% of stalking cases).
More than half of people sentenced for stalking reoffended within four years (56%), often with a violent offence (18%) or a breach of a family violence safety notice or intervention order (25%).
To read the report in full, go to: