A new civil order that will help protect victims of stalking has received Royal Assent, and is included as part of the government’s wider commitments to tackle violence against women and girls.
The Stalking Protection Bill will see the introduction of new Stalking Protection Orders – a civil order that police can apply for that will enable them to tackle so called ‘stranger stalking’ sooner and more effectively.
The orders will have the flexibility to impose both restrictions and requirements on perpetrators and will carry a criminal penalty for those that breach them. The police will apply for the order, so the burden of going through the process does not lie with a vulnerable victim.
How Prevalent Is Stalking?
The Crime Survey for England and Wales reports that:
More than 1 in 5 women and nearly 1 in 10 men aged 16 to 59 have been victims of stalking since the age of 16.
In 2017 to 2018 there were 1,616 prosecutions commenced under stalking offences, with 73% related to domestic abuse.
While victims who are suffering from stalking in the context of domestic abuse will benefit from Domestic Abuse Protection Orders and Notices that form part of the Draft Domestic Abuse Bill, the Stalking Protection Orders will be particularly valuable for those being harassed by perpetrators not previously known to them.
The Stalking Protection Order can apply to any case of stalking, but is designed specifically for occasions where stalking occurs outside of a domestic abuse context and will allow courts to not only ban perpetrators from going to certain locations or contacting victims, but also force them to seek help, such as attending a mental health assessment.