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Author Stephanie Ramsey, Min-Taec Kim and Jackie Fitzgerald
Published June 2022
Report Type Bureau Brief No. BB159
Subject Domestic violence
Keywords domestic and family violence, intimate partner violence, intimidation, stalking

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This paper describes the significant rise in incidents of domestic violence-related stalking and intimidation recorded in NSW over the 10 years to 2021 and their passage through the criminal justice system.

Key findings

• Domestic violence-related stalking/intimidation incidents recorded by NSW Police increased 110 per cent from 2012 to 2021 (from 8,120 to 17,063).
• Police legal proceedings for domestic violence-related stalking/intimidation incidents increased 163.8 per cent from 2012 to 2021 (from 4,469 to 11,789).
• Domestic violence-related ‘stalking/intimidation’ typically involves threats, intimidation and verbal abuse (not stalking).
• Court appearances including a domestic violence-related stalking/intimidation charge increased 63.8 per cent from 2014 to 2021 (from 3,562 to 5,836).
• Courts consider domestic violence-related stalking/intimidation seriously, with one in eight offenders sentenced to a custodial penalty. The number of custodial sentences increased 96.1% from 2014 to 2021 (from 311 to 610).
• The increase in stalking/intimidation has had a pronounced effect on Aboriginal people who accounted for 28% of court finalisations and 52% of custodial penalties in 2021. The number of Aboriginal people receiving a custodial penalty increased 101% in eight years from 158 in 2014 to 317 in 2021.


Characteristics of stalking/intimidation incidents from 2012 to 2021 were collated from the NSW Police and Criminal Courts databases. We focus on those flagged as ‘domestic violence-related’. Additional information about these incidents was obtained through text mining 12,676 police domestic violence-related stalking/intimidation narratives.


The substantial increase in stalking/intimidation offences in the criminal justice system seems more likely to reflect changes in the police response to domestic violence rather than a change in criminal behaviour.