The Stalking Protection Act has recently received Royal Assent, offering protection to victims of stalking and harassment. The measures set out in the Act should help to address stalking sooner and more effectively. The Act is part of the government’s wider commitments to tackle violence against women and girls, which also includes the draft Domestic Abuse Bill. This is awaiting to be approved and amended by the Houses of Parliament.
Stalking Protection Orders
Stalking Protection Orders will be introduced to protect people who experience stalking, imposing measures on those who stalk and allowing the police to gather evidence to support a conviction. The new orders will remove the onus to apply for injunctions from the person being stalked, instead placing this responsibility with the police.
The police can apply for a Stalking Protection Order (SPO) if:
SPOs will prohibit stalkers from contacting or going within a certain distance of their targeted person. An SPO might also have positive requirements attached to it, such as enrolment onto rehabilitation programmes.
Restrictions on the movement of stalkers could be enforced by GPS tagging. Any breach of an SPO – such as attempting to make contact or failure to attend a rehabilitation programme – could lead to up to five years’ imprisonment.
Read more about the Stalking Protection Bill on the Suzy Lamplugh Trust website:
Relation to the Domestic Abuse Bill
The Domestic Abuse Bill proposes similar measures, which will also be applicable for stalking offences if they have been perpetrated by an ex or current partner. Domestic Abuse Protection Orders (DAPOs) will work similarly to SPOs, also carrying the same punishments for breaching them.
In their announcement of the Stalking Protection Act, the government said that they hope DAPOs will tackle stalking in a domestic abuse context, whilst SPOs will protect those experiencing “stranger stalking”. It could be some time before the Domestic Abuse Bill becomes an Act, so it is good news that those experiencing stalking in an intimate relationship will be protected by SPOs.
It is positive to see the government reinforcing their commitment to tackling domestic abuse and stalking. The Stalking Protection Act will support many people experiencing stalking and harassment, as well as supporting the police in their jobs. Training may be required so that police officers are confident in knowing when to apply for a SPO and are able to effectively ensure that the conditions set out are being adhered to.
If you would like to know more about any of the services that we provide to support people who are experiencing domestic abuse, please get in touch. You can call Leeway on 0300 561 0077 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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