POLICE are highlighting the menace of stalking with mobile phones and social media following an 81 per cent recorded increase in harassment in Dorset.

Officers are raising awareness that malicious communications is a crime as part of National Stalking Awareness Week.

The county saw the dramatic rise in the year to September 2016 after malicious communications was included in the harassment crime category.

Detective Sergeant Sarah Gillion said: "In today’s digital society there are more opportunities to contact people and the vast majority of stalking and harassment now takes place online or via telephone.

"Mobile phones, social media and other online channels can be used as tools for stalking and harassment. Online threats, cyber-stalking and persistent or upsetting calls, voicemails and messages, can be just as intimidating and harmful as traditional forms of stalking and harassment."

She urged anyone who believes they are a victim of such crimes to call police and added: "We are here to help and have officers trained to support victims and investigate these types of offences."

Victims can also call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300.