The course and nature of stalking: A psychological perspective
thesisposted on 24.11.2011, 14:15 by Lorraine Sheridan
Stalking may be described as an extraordinary crime, one that is easy to commit but difficult to define and prosecute. This is because many activities of stalkers are ostensibly routine and harmless. Section one of this thesis however demonstrates that although English and Welsh law does not define criminal stalking, the general public hold shared ideas on what does and does not constitute stalking behaviour. It is concluded that anti-stalking legislation that does not tightly prescribe stalking acts may best capture public concerns about this highly prevalent form of harassment. Further, researchers in different countries are investigating the same phenomenon in that previous studies have detailed similar patterns of stalker behaviour. Section two reports two victim surveys that provide a preliminary picture of stalking experiences in the United Kingdom. These indicate that both stalking and the victims' reaction to it are changeable rather than constant, that any person can become a victim of stalking, and that stalkers themselves are a diverse group. Section three deals with the classification of stalkers. First, one specific classificatory factor, the nature of the stalker-victim prior relationship, is focused upon. Evidence that ex-partner stalkers are the relational group most likely to be violent toward their victims is provided, although stranger stalkers are most likely to be convicted for stalking activities. Next, a vignette study demonstrates how social psychological theory can account for the misattribution of ex-partner stalkers' behaviour. Finally, a taxonomy of stalkers that was specifically created for use by law enforcement agencies is presented. This classification illustrates how different interventions can have varying success according to the type of stalking involved. More generally, this thesis confirms some previous work for the first time with British samples, and provides practical insight into the course and nature of stalking as it occurs in the United Kingdom.