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2014年9月15日 (月)

ストーカー対策 凶行から被害者を守りたい

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Steps must be beefed up to protect stalking victims from stalker attacks
ストーカー対策 凶行から被害者を守りたい

After being hounded over an extended period by a stalker, a woman may eventually lose her life. To prevent such a tragic end, stronger measures are needed to handle stalking cases.

The National Police Agency has requested a ¥364 million budgetary appropriation for fiscal 2015 to deal with stalkers. The figure is 1.7 times the amount for tackling stalking problems for this fiscal year. The NPA says it will place greater weight on protecting stalking victims and improving investigation capabilities on stalking offenses.

The number of confirmed stalking cases exceeded 20,000 nationwide last year. In October, a high school girl was stabbed to death by a stalker in Mitaka, Tokyo. The stalker once had a relationship with the victim.

After the turn of the year, there has been one case after another in which women have been victimized by stalkers. A woman in Iwate Prefecture was murdered earlier this month and a man who formerly went out with her was arrested on suspicion of killing her.

Although the victims in both cases had contacted police for help, their appeals did not save their lives. The need to beef up measures to combat stalking is definitely growing.

One pillar of the NPA-envisaged measures is to sharply increase the number of police officers in charge of stalking problems in prefectural police headquarters, as well as in Tokyo and Hokkaido, by around 2,000 within three years. The agency plans to have them offer stalking victims consultations and provide them with better personal protection. The planned steps should lead to fine-tuning police responses to stalking victims.

In addition to increasing the number of antistalking police officers, it is also imperative to enhance the quality of their investigative capabilities. Through improved training and hands-on experience, the police officers should enhance their capabilities in dealing with stalking cases by swiftly determining the urgency of a case.

Beef up remedies for stalkers

Whenever a stalking victim is seen to be in great danger of being harmed by a potential assailant, it is vitally important to keep the victim in a safe place. There have been many cases in which victims have been assaulted when returning home because of their inability to secure safe havens or because they could not bear the financial burden of continuing to pay for lodging.

In light of this, the NPA is considering creating a system to cover the entire expense needed to accommodate stalking victims in hotels and other places to help them temporarily escape from possible danger. The plan deserves attention as a new step to ensure the safety of victims.

It is also important to improve measures to handle stalking offenders to prevent them from repeating offenses.

Many stalking offenders have psychological problems such as an obsession and rancor reaching psychotic proportions. A framework should be crafted to enable police and medical institutions to work together to help rehabilitate stalking offenders.

Starting this fiscal year, the NPA has launched on an experimental basis a program to encourage stalkers who have been warned by police about their behavior to undergo psychiatric treatment. Expenses for psychiatric counseling are fully covered by the government.

About 35 people have undergone this program or will do so this fiscal year. The figure will be expanded to about 100 in fiscal 2015, according to the agency. By accurately evaluating the effects of the program, the NPA should work out an effective psychological treatment system for stalkers.

On top of these moves, it will be necessary to further increase the number of doctors with expert knowledge to treat stalkers.

It is also a task that should be addressed in the future to have volunteer organizations and other institutions in local communities across the country extend support to help stalkers straighten themselves out.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept. 14, 2014)Speech


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