NEW stalking protection orders which will help protect victims of stranger stalking at the earliest possible stage are to be introduced.

The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has announced her intentions to introduce new stalking protection orders as part of a new strategy package of government measures to prevent violence against women and girls (VAWG) for 2016 – 2020.

Rudd said:

“Stalking can have devastating consequences and I am determined that we do all we can to protect victims from these prolonged and terrifying campaigns of abuse that can last years, leaving many people too afraid to leave their homes and unable to get on with their lives.

“Four years ago this government created specific stalking offences to ensure those responsible face justice. Today I want to go even further and offer protection at the first signs of stalking, stopping offenders in their tracks.”

Plans for the new order were announced after Rudd visited the National Stalking Helpline, part of the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, with the new orders intended to intervene with cases early to protect victims and prevent ‘stranger stalking’ offences from escalating.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust is an organisation which ‘aims to provide practical support and guidance to reduce people’s fear of crime, and to develop skills and strategies for keeping themselves safe.’

Following the Home Office’s announcement, the trust has responded with a statement today favoring the new order plans:

“We welcome the introduction of the Stalking Protection Orders as a step forward in how stalking is perceived and treated.

“We hope to see the new Order complement the existing legislation and encourage the Home Office to recommend that SPOs are applied for whilst a criminal investigation into a course of conduct is pursued.”

The helpline has already dealt with 3,550 calls this year and worrying statistics reveal that stalking is not uncommon. As many as 20% of women and 10% of men become victims of stalking during their lifetime, with only a tiny portion of stalking cases being recorded by the police.

A victim, who wishes to remain anonymous, explained:

“It was the most terrifying experience of my life.

“He turned up on a night out, knew my name, what university I went to and eventually turned up outside my house. I had no idea who he was.

“He saw me on Tinder and found my Facebook and details through that. He knows what I’m posting online and everything.

“It’s not stopped. He was at the same place as me last week.”

She has alerted her accommodation security about the incidents, which first began in 2014, but is yet to inform the police. The Suzy Lamplugh Trust says that only around half of victims actually go to the police.

The new orders mean that when victims seek help, police will be able to apply to the courts for an order to inflict restrictions on offenders, and prevent them from pursuing their victims, by restricting their internet use and keeping away from their targets.

Offenders may also be required to attend rehabilitation programs or seek treatment for mental health issues, with breaching these conditions ending in criminal offence with a maximum sentence of five years in jail.

A new £15 million fund will boost local provision of VAWG services to promote and embed the best local practice. A national statement of expectation states:

“Our aim is to identify victims and offenders at the earliest opportunity, intervene effectively to prevent violence and abuse from escalating and tackle high-rates of re- victimisation.”

Anyone seeking help as a victim of stalking can call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300, Victim Support on 0808 1689 111 or contact the police on 101.

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