Reported incidents of stalking and harassment in Colchester have doubled in two years, figures have revealed.

Office for National Statistics data shows 1,488 cases of stalking, harassment or malicious communications were reported between July 2017 and June 2018.

This is more than four cases being reported to the police every day of the year and a 99 per cent increase on the stats from the year 2015 to 2016.

Across England and Wales there has been a total increase of 86 per cent over this period, putting Colchester above the national average.

Some have suggested the increase is down to better recording methods from police.

Chief Inspector Shaun Kane, District Commander for Colchester, said: “We have seen reports in stalking, harassment and malicious communications increase across the country and the county, including offences recorded in Colchester.

“This is in line with a change in the way officers record these offences across the country.

“Our officers continue to work to raise awareness about these types of crime which are incredibly sinister and have a long-lasting psychological impact on the victim. These can often be the gateway to more violent physical offences.

“We encourage the people of Colchester to report any offences to us – we will take you seriously and we can offer you the guidance and support you need.

"You can call 101 or report your crime online at Make sure you always call 999 in an emergency.”

Charity The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which campaigns to reduce the risk of violence and aggression across society, called on the ONS to release separate data for stalking and harassment.

"Stalking and harassment are distinct and combining them in this way continues to blur the lines between these two crimes," Victoria Charleston, the charity's policy and development manager, said.

"We do not amalgamate fraud and burglary, or assault and grievous bodily harm."

The Government is set to pass a Stalking Protection Bill, and says it will be giving £4.1 million to the charity to better educate officers about the dangers of stalking and harassment.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Stalking is a horrendous crime that can have terrifying consequences.

"We welcome improvements in police recording, the increased use of the stalking offence by the police, and that more victims are feeling empowered to come forward.

"But we know there is more to do to keep people safe. That is why we are supporting the Stalking Protection Bill, which will introduce new civil Stalking Protection Orders to protect victims and halt perpetrators at the earliest opportunity."

Breaching the order could result in up to five years in prison.