The government is stepping up efforts to protect victims of stalking by introducing a new protection order – but has told prosecutors that this should not deter them from prosecuting wherever possible.
Publishing a summary of responses to its consultation on introducing a stalking protection order, the Home Office said the order will be part of a broader set of measures to tackle stalking, including increasing the number of prosecutions.
When victims seek help, police will be able to apply to the courts for an order to impose restrictions on perpetrators, such as staying away from the victim or restricting their internet use. Breaching the order will be a criminal offence with a maximum of five years in prison.
Announcing the new protection, home secretary Amber Rudd said today: ‘Stalking can have devastating consequences and I am determined that we [will] do all we can to protect victims from these prolonged and terrifying campaigns of abuse that can last years, leaving many people too afraid to leave their homes and unable to get on with their lives.’
In 2012 the government amended the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 to introduce new stalking offences.
In 2014 the Crown Prosecution Service developed an e-learning module for prosecutors on stalking, which focused on victim support, working with the police and ensuring a strong case is built from the start. More than 1,600 CPS staff have completed the training.
Of the 2,000 prosecutions under the new offences, 1,102 were commenced in 2015-16.
The Home Office says the new orders will offer protection at an early stage for anyone who has not been in an intimate relationship with their stalker, helping those targeted by strangers, acquaintances, and colleagues, plus helping professionals such as doctors who may be targeted by patients.