Preston mum tells of her terror as the ex-husband who stalked her is due to be released from prison and start work near her house
A woman has described her torment after support workers contacted her to say her violent ex-husband was due to be released from prison in three weeks time - with plans by probation to place him in work at a farm near her home.
The mum, who does not wish to be named, shared her ordeal as figures show at least three stalking and harassment cases are reported each day in Preston.
Her ex-husband previously sent her a twisted picture diary as he took a sledgehammer and a spade to their home, causing around Â£40,000 damage.
It included pictures of himself half-naked, posing with a sledgehammer, as he trashed their children’s bedrooms, and he was later found to have a BB gun in his car and live ammunition in their former address in Longridge.
He was given a three-year jail term after admitting stalking, criminal damage, breaking his non-molestation order, possessing an imitation firearm and possession of ammunition.
Today the mum said: “These figures don’t surprise me.
“The bigger worry is the authorities are still uneducated in these people’s abilities. It’s not just about the reporting figures, it’s about what happens next.
“He’s an electrician and never done farming. After fighting to be believed all over again I feel like giving up.
“This is why it is such a common crime – it is misunderstood and even after it has been reported it isn’t always handled appropriately.
“I am in no doubt of the danger I may be in, but the authorities cannot act until a crime is committed – it could be too late by then.
“I feel like the most hated person in the world for standing up and saying no.
“The police don’t want him placed there, it’s other agencies.”
Anti-domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid said that too often abuse which doesn’t leave bruises “is not taken seriously enough.”
Katie Ghose, the charity’s chief executive, explained: “Abusers will often stop at nothing to make sure that their victim does not escape their control.
“From our work with survivors, we know that many women experience stalking as part of an ongoing pattern of controlling and abusive behaviour after leaving an abusive partner.
“These acts are often not seen as being as harmful as physical abuse when isolated yet together they create a life filled with threats, a life lived in fear.”
Ms Ghose said she was pleased there had been police progress regarding stalking, with improvements in identification and recording of the crime.
In Preston, reported stalking and harassment offences have more than doubled since 2015-16.
Across England and Wales there was an 86 per cent increase over that time, though this could be down to better crime recording by officers.
Det Supt Ian Whitehead, head of public protection at Lancashire Police, said: “Lancashire Constabulary treats stalking and harassment extremely seriously which is why we continue to train our staff to better recognise stalking crimes, as well as the associated risks, and the impact on victims.
“Improved awareness and recording of these offences is an essential element in ensuring that we are understanding these risks and responding to the needs of victims, and we welcome the focus nationally on improving the recording of these crimes.
“Stalking can have devastating consequences for victims and can often escalate to other serious offences. We are committed to tackling this issue and will offer as much support as possible to anybody affected.”
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a charity which campaigns to reduce the risk of violence and aggression, called on the ONS to publish separate data for stalking and harassment.Victoria Charleston, the charity’s policy and development manager, said: “Stalking and harassment are distinct and combining them in this way continues to blur the lines between these two crimes.
“We do not amalgamate fraud and burglary, or assault and grievous bodily harm.”