More than one in three stalking victims is now harassed online, according to a new study.
The survey of more than 4,000 British adults found that nearly one fifth of British women (18.1%) and eight per cent of British men say they have been stalked.
And of all those who have been stalked – online and offline – only 26.6% reported it to the police
Claire Waxman, the director of Voice4Victims and a victim of stalking for 12 years, told Sky News: “The whole profile of a stalker is they have fixated obsessive behaviour, so they will try and find any which way to communicate with their victims.
“So what’s happening in the digital world, it’s just giving them more and more tools to use to access victims, to stalk them, to harass them and to get information which fuels their compulsion.”
Rachel Griffin, director of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which carried out the survey in association with YouGov, said technology firms could do more to help.
“The unfortunate reality for a lot of people is that they feel they’ve really got nowhere to hide.
“We’ve really got to train up the police and other parts of the criminal justice system to really understand how to investigate and prosecute digital stalking. It’s no longer something that can be treated as an add-on.
“Technology companies do have a responsibility, yes… They could do an awful lot more.”
Facebook, Twitter and Google all declined Sky News’ request for an interview, but Tech UK, the trade body that represents technology firms, said technology was only one part of the solution.
Charlotte Holloway, head of policy at Tech UK, said: “Treating this is as an online-only crime doesn’t get to the heart of the problem.
“It doesn’t help the police tackle the problem and it doesn’t ultimately bring victims the justice they need.
“Instead, we need to encourage the police and CPS to continue to work with tech companies on the nature of these crimes and how they’re changing.”