As the first person received a Stalking Protection Order within just a few hours of the legislation coming into force, Laura Baumanis, considers the new legislation and the impact this could have.
According to the Office of National Statistics, one in five women, and one in ten men, have been the victims of stalking. The police have previously received criticism for not taking cases of stalking seriously and the new measures have been welcomed by campaigners who want to see a tougher stance on cases of this nature and describe such orders as a ‘powerful new tool’.
When can a Stalking Protection Order be granted?
Under the Stalking Protection Act 2019, the police can apply to the Magistrates’ Court for a Stalking Protection Order if they believe that:
- The defendant has carried out acts associated with stalking;
- The defendant poses a risk associated with stalking to another person; and
- There is reasonable cause to believe that the proposed order is necessary to protect another person from such a risk
Much like the applications for Domestic Violence Prevention Orders (DVPOs), the police do not need to satisfy the court that a criminal offence has been committed, or even charge the defendant with an offence prior to the application being made. The court simply needs to be satisfied that the grounds above are met. This will, it is said, allow the police to continue to investigate the criminal allegations, whilst safeguarding the alleged victim.
Speaking about the new orders, the Conservative Party Chairman, James Cleverly, states:
‘We want to give more powers to the police and to the courts and stalking protection orders is the vehicle we are bringing forward to do that’.
How long does a Stalking Protection Order last for?
Unlike DVPOs or Restraining Orders, a Stalking Protection Order must be imposed for a minimum of two years. They can be imposed for a fixed period or until a further order is made, and different periods can relate to different requirements or prohibitions within the order. Interim orders can also be imposed if the courts are not in a position to finalise the application.
Breach of a Stalking Protection Orders
If a person was to go on to breach such an order he or she could receive up to six months custody in the Magistrates’ Court or five years at the Crown Court.
Is there anything I can do to avoid a Stalking Protection Order?
Of course, not everyone who is accused of stalking is guilty of the offence, or even charged, and the imposition of such an order could be extremely restrictive upon those who are ultimately found to not be at fault, especially given the minimum term. It is therefore imperative that those who find themselves before the courts in relation to applications under the new legislation obtain legal advice.
Contact Laura Baumanis
If you require further advice in relation to a Stalking Protection Order please contact Laura Baumanis to discuss further.