Vera Baird QC and Alison Hernandez who lead the victims group of police and crime commissioners nationally, today welcomed the launch of stalking orders.
These orders announced by the Home Secretary will allow police to apply for restrictions on the behaviour of perpetrators, most obviously staying away from the target or restricting their internet use.
They will be available at an early stage, and are civil orders and so not subject to the criminal burden of proof. They are intended to protect people who are being stalked and harassed and should nip frightening conduct in the bud. It will be a criminal offence to break the terms of the order.
Vera Baird PCC for Northumbria and APCC victims lead said:
“There have already been over 2,000 prosecutions for stalking since the offence was introduced in 2012 and last year prosecutions increased by a third.
“This is welcome new provision which should help people to get relief quickly and not have to wait until the often lengthy criminal process can be gone through. It may remove the need for criminal process at all in some incidents, if the conduct can be stopped.
“Sometimes obsessive behaviour is not intended to be criminal but is unintentionally very frightening – these orders may bring people to their senses and save time. However, it is a criminal offence to break such an order in so they can be backed up.”
Alison Hernandez PCC for Devon and Cornwall and APCC deputy victims lead said:
“This is a really important new tool, stalking of this nature can be an incredibly frightening experience and can devastate the lives of those affected.
“By allowing police to intervene earlier, there is more of an opportunity to prevent this sort of behaviour from escalating. I am pleased that this action is being taken, victims and those living in fear should know that this route to safety will be available and should not hesitate to come forward.”