Globe and Mail

Stalking cases on rise, Statscan says

Globe and Mail Update
Wednesday, November 29, 2000

Stalking appears to be on the rise, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.

Using data reported by 106 Canadian police forces, the statistics agency said that the number of incidents 5,382 in 1999 was up 32 per cent from 1996. Despite the fact that its sample of police forces isn't nationally representative, Statscan said in its report that it deals with 41 per cent of the annual national volume of crime.

The statistics agency said that the increase may have been a result of "greater public and police awareness of the potential seriousness of this crime." Stalking became a Criminal Code offence only in 1993.

Stalking is a crime most often committed against women, the agency found. In 1999, three-quarters of all victims of criminal harassment were women, Statscan reported.

Stalkers tend to be someone the victim knows, often from a previous relationship, the report concludes. Slightly more than half of all women stalked were harassed by a current or former partner. Another 25 per cent were stalked by a casual acquaintance.

Forty-four per cent of men who were stalked were most frequently harassed by a casual acquaintance, another 12 per cent were stalked by a business relation, 12 per cent by a stranger, 11 per cent by an ex-wife and 5 per cent by a current or ex-girlfriend.

While few incidents of stalking (less than 2 per cent) result in physical injury, "the obsessive and repetitive nature of stalking can leave a profound emotional impact on victims," the agency said. Stalking is commonly associated with threats, threatening or harassing phone calls, common assault or mischief. Studies have found that depression and anxiety are not uncommon among victims of stalking, Statscan reported.

The harassment has led to more serious crimes. There were nine stalking-related homicides in Canada from 1997 to 1999, each involving a woman being stalked and subsequently killed by a recently separated husband, ex-husband or ex-lover, Statscan said.

Rates of stalking
Urban areaIncidents per 100,000 people
St. Catharines-Niagara, Ont.26
Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont.18
London, Ont.12

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