14/11/2011 01:49 GMT | Updated 13/01/2012 05:12 GMT

Stalking Victims Say Police And Courts Let Them Down

Stalking victims have little confidence in the system, with most saying that police, prosecutors or the entire system let them down, a new survey has showed.

Campaigners said women were being "victimised at the hands of their stalker, and then again by the system".

The report comes as the Government is preparing to review harassment legislation in a move which could make stalking, both in person or online, a specific offence.

Two-thirds of stalking victims who contacted the police were unhappy with the way the officers or the Crown Prosecution Service handled their cases, the survey showed.

Laura Richards, a psychologist with Protection Against Stalking (Pas), said: "Victims are rarely taken seriously and most of the time they are told that the police cannot do anything and 'their hands are tied by the law'. Too often we hear that perpetrators have rights, while victims only have codes and charters."

She added that those who were stalked were "victimised at the hands of their stalker, and then again by the system, which appears currently incapable and powerless to identify stalking and intervene and protect some of society's most vulnerable people".

A survey of more than 140 women who have been stalked found two-thirds contacted the police, and two-thirds of these were not satisfied with the police response. Just one in five said the CPS was involved in their case, but more than three-quarters of these were also not happy with the response.

Almost three-quarters of those who reported the stalking said they were unhappy with the criminal justice system response, with some saying the process was "unsupportive and unclear", while others felt the law needed to be changed.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The effect of stalking on victims lives can be devastating and we are actively looking at what more can be done to protect victims and ensure there are robust prosecutions. In March this year the Government published an action plan to Tackle Violence Against Women and Girls.

"It included a commitment to review the impact of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and we will be making an announcement shortly."