Police perceptions of men who are victims of stalking

How do police perceive men who are victims of stalking and is this different to female victims?

Key details

Lead institution
Principal researcher(s)
Bethany Phillips
Police region
South East
Collaboration and partnership

Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire.

Level of research
Masters
Project start date
Date due for completion

Research context

This research project aims to determine how police officers perceive male stalking victims.

In 2020 the ONS found (from CSEW data) that 443,000 men between the ages of 16 and 59 were victims of stalking – despite this figure male victims are seldom researched.

The wider stalking literature instead focuses on female victims of stalking, this is likely as there are many more victims (892,000 in 2020) and violence against women and girls is an incredibly important area. This does not however take away from the fact that male victims of stalking are underrepresented in research and deserving of study.

This mixed-methods study aims to ascertain how police officers perceive male victims, whether this differs from their perception of female victims and the implications this could have on how male victims of stalking are treated by police and how cases are handled.

The literature would suggest that much like many crimes, police officers hold an ‘ideal victim’ stereotype where stalking is concerned – victims are helpless women while offenders are strange men/abusive ex-partners (Weller, Hope and Sheridan, 2013).

Research has found that male stalking victimisation is generally perceived and reported as less concerning, dangerous, and warranting of arrest/prosecution by police than female stalking victimisation (Finnegan, Fritz and Horrobin, 2018). This is arguably due to the perception that men should be able to control their own stalking experience, especially if the stalker is a woman, and should even take pride in the receipt of this unwanted attention (Matos, Matias & Gonçalves, 2019). 

As no study has focused specifically on police perception of male stalking victims prior to this, the results will help further both police knowledge and research in this area. 

Research methodology

This study will employ a combination of survey and interview techniques. The survey will measure perceptions of:

  • stalking in general
  • men who are victims of stalking and
  • women who are victims of stalking

The aim is to obtain at least 40 survey responses. A small number of interviews (around five) will then be conducted with police officers in order to obtain greater detail on perceptions of stalking victims (specifically male victims). 

In order to analyse the survey data the statistical program SPSS will be used, various statistical tests such as T tests and ANOVAs will be run in order to ascertain if there is a significant difference in the police perception of male victims when compared to female victims. Tests to measure overall positive/negative perception will also be conducted. 

In terms of the interviews, the qualitative analysis program nVIVO will be used in order to find themes and similarities in interview scripts that will give more in depth qualitative data to both outline and explain police perceptions of men who are victims of stalking and how/why police perceive stalking victims in the way that they do. 

Research participation

Hampshire police officers are the participant pool of interest for this study. Any Hampshire police officer is welcome to participate in the online survey and/or an online interview. If you wish to participate please contact the primary researcher at [email protected] for more information. 

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