Chubb Publishes Report on “Stalking” in the U.K.

May 10, 2004

Chubb Corp. has compiled the first comprehensive report in the U.K. on the modern phenomenon known as “stalking.” The study found that the intrusive behavior is by no means limited to celebrities; more typical victims are “ordinary men and women in their 40s, especially those holding managerial positions or working as lawyers and doctors.”

The study commissioned by Chubb Insurance and written by acknowledged experts in criminal psychology, Professor David Canter and Doctor Donna Youngs, “shows the scale of stalking today and provides vital advice on how to deal with a stalker.” Some of the most interesting findings were:
– 1 in 8 UK adults is victim of ‘persistent or unwanted attention’
– Typical victims are professionals in their 40s
– 94 percent of victims forced to make ‘major lifestyle changes’ including moving home or job
– Up to 45 percent of stalking episodes include violence
– New technologies like email facilitating stalking

The researchers found that “1 in 8 adults, and 1 in 6 women, have reported being the victim of ‘persistent or unwarranted attention’. Victims of stalking are most likely to be women, aged in their 40s (unlike the victims of many other crimes, who are typically younger) and of higher socio-economic status than their stalker. Professions such as doctors, lawyers, social workers and surgeons are particularly at risk.”

The report notes that “stalking episodes will typically last for 1-2 years with approximately 15 percent of cases lasting for up to five years. Alarmingly, many stalking episodes do not terminate until the victim is forced to make drastic changes to his or her life. 94 percent of victims are compelled to make major lifestyle changes while 40 percent must move home or change job.”

Prof. Canter and Dr. Youngs identified four common types of stalking behavior, which they described as follows:
– Sex stalking: stalking with explicit or implicit sexual undertone such as stealing personal possessions, underwear, photographs etc.
– Intimate stalking: The stalker will carry out ‘under cover’ surveillance of their victim and conduct detailed research.
– Possessive stalking: the desire to control the victim underpins this approach.
– Aggressive-Destructive stalking: this type of stalking is most likely to escalate into violence. The stalker will seek to humiliate their victim both personally and professionally.

In addition, the stalkers themselves are broken into three key types of individuals:
– The Simple Obsessional as characterised by the film ‘Sleeping with the Enemy’
– The Love Obsessional e.g. John Hinckley’s stalking of actress Jodie Foster
– The Erotomanic as characterised by the film ‘Fatal Attraction’

Chubb’s study also gave advice on how the deal with a stalker:
– Do not respond or react to their stalker in any way, as such responses are likely to reinforce and encourage their stalker’s behaviour.
– Inform the police, monitor and document the activities of their stalker and increase their own personal security measures at home and at work.

The research showed that “stalking can cause enormous psychological trauma for victims in addition to any physical harm. The victim has to cope with the constant and unpredictable threat posed by the stalker over several years. As such, over half of stalking victims display the major symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) such as anxiety, insomnia, inability to concentrate and flashbacks. Professional help is usually required to assist the victim recover as the persistence of the offence and loss of control can undermine normally robust people.”

Chubb noted the company specializes in insuring high net worth individuals and was the first insurer in the UK to provide cover for stalking. John Sims, Chubb’s European Head of Personal Insurance, commented: “In the light of the report’s findings, I’ve ordered an urgent review of the additional need to provide cover for psychological harm and professional counseling. Prof. Canter and Dr. Youngs have shown this to be a major problem for victims of stalking with 44 percent suffering the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is something which no insurers currently cater for.”

Prof. Canter observed that “stalking tends not to be a focused criminal activity and often involves no physical harm. It’s very much a crime of the mind. With relatively little dependable data available in the UK, we have no way of knowing how effective our legal system is in dealing with this offence, or indeed how much of this is going unreported. Early indications are that the UK’s legislation is being both under-used and used inappropriately. This is undermining the legislation’s credibility with both police and the courts.”

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