POLICE are now investigating a series of incidents during which a man was allegedly seen snooping around outside a woman's home in the middle of the night, watching her while she was in her dressing gown.

As previously reported in the Gazette, Rachel Coopland was left feeling violated after seeing footage of the man from her ring bell peering through her windows for more than two hours in February in the early hours of the morning.

He then returned to her home in Sheppard Road, Cranbourne the following month.

However, despite reporting both incidents to police, Hampshire Constabulary said it was unable to do anything because the man had not committed a crime, and instead officers offered Rachel “crime prevention advice”.

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We ran a story about the incidents online on Tuesday, and questions were raised about why the police were unable to act.

That night, a man was seen again outside Rachel's home again.

This time, police have said they will investigate.

A statement from Hampshire Constabulary said: “We are investigating a report of alleged stalking or harassment following an incident where a man was reported to be acting suspiciously outside an address in Sheppard Road, Basingstoke.

“The man was seen outside the property at around 9.40pm on April 29. Similar incidents have occurred at the same address on February 26 and April 22.

“If you have any information about these incidents, please get in touch by ringing 101 and quoting 44200151555.”

Rachel, a nail technician, previously told the Gazette: “It was really unsettling. The one place you expect to be safe is in your own home, and he was sat there looking in for at least two hours and would have been able to see me.”

The 51-year-old added: “It’s a violation of being in your home and not feeling safe. It feels awful. It annoys me that someone feels they have the right to do that, especially at the moment we are in a lockdown situation which is stressful and then there’s someone making me feel anxious and uncomfortable in my own home.”

The number of recorded stalking offences has increased in England and Wales since 2014, but prosecution rates have plunged, figures show.

In 2014-15 there were 2,882 recorded offences according to the Home Office, a figure which increased to 10,214 by 2018.

Only a quarter of the 6,702 cases in which a charge could be brought resulted in this action, compared with half of those reported in 2014-15.

A report in 2017 found police were putting victims at risk by not investigating or recording complaints of stalking correctly.

What is the law on "Peeping Toms"? 

Voyeurism is often recognised as the illegal viewing or recording of another person while they conduct private activities, with the aim of sexual gratification.

Historically, the term ‘Peeping Tom' would have been applied to a person who was convicted of voyeurism.

Victims of voyeurism can suffer immense shame, confidence and emotional stress and their feelings of personal security can be compromised. Because of this, the offence of voyeurism is considered to be a serious one.

For an offence of voyeurism to have taken place, the victim will have been watched, recorded or photographed without having known and their consent would not have been obtained.

This means that offenders may face prosecutions that are linked to invasion of privacy laws as well as direct voyeurism statute.

The law on trepassing is different. Trespassing is not generally a criminal offence unless some special statutory provision makes it so.

Any damage done by a trespasser while trespassing may amount to the offence of criminal damage.

In civil law, trespass to land consists of any unjustifiable intrusion by a person upon the land in possession of another. Civil trespass is actionable in the courts, but a claim must be brought by the owner of the land.