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Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird QC is welcoming the Home Secretary’s plans for stalking protection orders

7th December 2016

Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird QC is welcoming the Home Secretary’s plans for stalking protection orders.

On Wednesday morning it was announced that the Home Secretary is to introduce new stalking protection orders which will help protect victims at the earliest possible stage.

Amber Rudd made the announcement as part of a package of government measures to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG). She announced plans for the new orders, designed to intervene early to keep victims safe and stop ‘stranger stalking’ before it escalates, after visiting the National Stalking Helpline.

Introducing these orders will build on the work undertaken locally here in Northumbria to help raise public awareness of this serious, life-altering and sometimes fatal, offence.

Commissioner Baird said: “I’m delighted that the government has listened to the feedback I provided as part of a national consultation event earlier this year and is helping the police to apply for orders that will keep victims safe by imposing restrictions on offenders, such as staying away from the victims home or workplace, and making them subject to meaningful, positive requirements such as attending a programme designed to address their behaviour.  I’m also really pleased that, as I advocated, the breach of a SPO has been made a criminal offence, with meaningful sanctions attached including up to five years imprisonment.

Noting that the new orders are intended to offer additional protection to those targeted by strangers, including acquaintances, colleagues or clients, Ms Baird QC said,

“We await the fine details but remain hopeful that these orders will be made available to victims of both ‘stranger stalking’ and stalking by an intimate partner – since statistics indicate that 50-70% of these offences take place in the context of domestic abuse, particularly when the victim has left a violent/abusive partner. We are also hopeful that they will be long enough (e.g. at least 12 months in duration) to be effective in changing behaviour and will include the possibility of electronic tagging – which can alert officers when the offender comes with a certain radius of the victim.”

Stalking can affect anyone and shatters millions of lives, with as many as one in five women and one in ten men becoming victims during their lifetimes. The national stalking helpline has already dealt with over 3,550 calls this year.

The new protection order is being announced 4 years after new stalking offences came into effect in November 2012. There have already been over 2,000 prosecutions under the new offences, with 1,102 in 2015 to 2016 alone. The new orders will provide additional protection against stalking before a perpetrator’s behaviour becomes entrenched and will help keep victims safe, including while evidence is collected prior to a prosecution.