To help prevent a person from causing harm or annoyance to another person, a court can issue a protective order. They put different restrictions on a person depending on the severity of the case.
The most commonly used orders are non-molestation orders, occupation orders and restraining orders.
As of last Monday, 20 January 2020, new Stalking Protection Orders came into effect to extend the group of protective orders currently available.
Stalking Protection Order
Stalking Protection Orders are introduced by the Stalking Protection Act 2019. The provisions of the Act have been brought into force by The Stalking Protection Act 2019 (Commencement) Regulations 2020.
The Act makes provision for Stalking Protection Orders which will:
- be available on application by the police only to a magistrates’ court;
- enable the imposition of both prohibitions and requirements on the “stalker”;
- have a criminal penalty for breach.
The risk of stalking posed by the “stalker” may be in respect of physical or psychological harm to the other person and/or physical damage to their property. The risk may arise from acts which the respondent knows or ought reasonably to know are unwelcome to the other person, even if in other circumstances or individually the acts may appear in themselves harmless. For example, sending someone unwanted gifts or flowers in conjunction with another behaviour may constitute stalking behaviour.
The police can also apply for an order against children and young people aged from 10 years old up to their 18th birthday.
This novelty tool was designed for use particularly in cases where existing interventions are not always applicable, namely when:
- the stalking occurs outside of a domestic abuse context, or where the perpetrator is not a current or former intimate partner of the victim (so-called ‘stranger stalking’);
- the criminal threshold has not, or has not yet, been met (such as while a criminal case is being built), or the victim does not support a prosecution.
Only time will tell how this new tool will be handled by the police forces and the wider implications this will have on the public in the future. As currently, the Crime Survey for England and Wales reports that “almost one in five women over the age of 16 have experienced stalking, as well as almost one in ten men”.
The Stalking Protection Orders will ordinarily last for a minimum of 2 years, with a breach counting as a criminal offence that can lead up to 5 years of imprisonment.
Further to preventing alleged “stalkers” from approaching or contacting their victims, Stalking Protection Orders will have the power to direct “stalkers” to undergo professional treatment.
The UK Government press release can be found here “Government gives police new powers to protect victims of stalking “.
All our articles are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information provided.