New law to tackle stalking introduced

Lorna Smith Lorna Smith was killed on 2 February last year

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Stalking has become a specific criminal offence in England and Wales in a move to improve victims' safety.

The government has introduced two offences, stalking and stalking involving a fear of violence.

Campaigners had long claimed dealing with stalking under existing harassment laws was inadequate. In Scotland stalking was made an offence in 2010.

A parliamentary inquiry earlier this year found that about 120,000 victims, mostly women, were stalked every year.

However only 53,000 incidents are recorded as crimes by police - and only one in 50 of these reports leads to an offender being jailed.

'Abhorrent crime'

The inquiry called for a new offence to be introduced at once, saying harassment and intimidation could often turn into murder.

After meeting victims and campaigners at Downing Street earlier this year, the prime minister described stalking as "an abhorrent crime" which "makes life a living hell for the victims".

The new law of stalking carries a maximum six-month sentence and stalking involving a fear of violence or serious distress carries a maximum five years in prison.

BBC legal correspondent Clive Coleman said the government hoped that adding specific offences of stalking would provide greater clarity around the offence for the police and others looking to improve the safety of victims and bring perpetrators to justice.

The calls for reform came after a series of cases involving stalkers who went on to kill, including Clifford Mills, 49, who stalked his ex-girlfriend Lorna Smith on Facebook before stabbing her to death at his flat in Brixton, south London, in February last year.

He was jailed in February for life, with a minimum term of 21 years, after being found guilty of murder.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    I'm being stalked by Indian marketing and sales companies and my front door is being stalked by junk mail. That said it was left alone during the police commissioner voting literature completely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    I suggest that stalking is due to thwarted sex drive or the inability to court women, so the cruder types resort to the next tier down. Menacing and frightening.

    It gives them the sex buzz that they cannot achieve by normal behaviour

    Women stalking men on the other hand is usually about money, and they the woman trying to get their hands on it. Thwarted or spurned they get very angry.

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    I was stalked for nearly 20 years. It stopped for a while when someone smartly told the stalker I was dead, but began again. Stalkers have severe psychological problems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    For those who have never been on the watch list of a stalker I can tell you from personal experience it is one of the most frightening things I have ever encountered. I was stalked by my boss who was able on a Monday morning to tell me where I had been and whom I had been socialising with. It wasn't until he did it to another girl in my office that action was taken. Don't mock people's fear.

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    Laws exist, if they were used we wouldn't be wasting time on making new ones. If victims push their case (which in most cases they don't because they don't want to appear in court) rather than just complain it could work. More paperwork for lawyers to gloat over. When I go out for a walk in futuire I will make sure there is no-one in front of me in the street in case I get arrested.

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    38. RobJ Agree. One day this benighted society will discover that addressing the underlying reasons for social rupture; relationships - education - citizenship - tolerance - fairness - equal worth etc. will go some way to obviate the need for endless, incremental legislation. This culture of regulatory punishment is actually a council of despair.

  • rate this

    Comment number 48.

    Every year, more and more new laws and few laws are ever repealed.
    Is it really so bad for a girl's brother to go and see whoever's bothering her and warn/threaten/thump him as appropriate.
    Court cases cost a packet and I thought we were supposed to be cutting the public purse not increasing it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 47.

    @44 RR
    " It seems that some men want to menace"

    What a typically sexist comment from RR

    As a man who has been stalked by three women - one of whom presented a genuine physical threat to me - I can assure you that stalking is not a gender issue.

  • rate this

    Comment number 46.

    There is a particular symptom, most commonly associated with Borderline Personality Disorder, but also identifiable in other diagnosis, that dysfunctionally affects the fear mechanism. It causes people to respond to emotional attachments as if the emotional attachment is a threat to survival. The object of attachment is subsequently perceived as a threat to survival and rejected and evaded.

  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    12.Name Number 6
    10 Minutes ago
    Our obsession in this country of putting people in prison isn't always appropriate.
    It would be,
    If it actually was a prison, rather than 3* free food/accommodation.

    Apparently prisoners could have access to "premium" SKY removed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    Stalking can happen over the internet, as well or through the post, not just being followed about in the street but stalked by words and abuse. It seems that some men want to menace. It is all about having power over someone else, and they appear to enjoy it

    I have just returned from Singapore. If you get up to stalking tricks there the police will give you a painful caning to make you behave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    Would the most CCTV cameras both private and state per head of population in the Worlds make the UK the Home of the official stalker?

  • Comment number 42.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 41.

    what about deer-stalking?

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    Indiansummer42 fair point, female violence/stalking against men is under-reported, with this law women as a 'significant' part of the problem can now be quantified alongside the existing statistics that 3 women a week are killed by an ex/partner, and so prove this crime is perpetrated by both genders, help protect EVERYBODY and challenge gender-based stereotypes about stalking/domestic violence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    This is great news. My ex-wife won't leave me alone, rings at all hours of the night, and turns up unannounced. The police say they can't do anything, as she has never made any threats. She just acts all friendly and nice, but won't let me move on, after nearly 4 years since our marriage ended. She's destroyed two relationships since, as new girlfriends can't cope with her. Women stalk too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Just what we need - more poorly thought-out and uninforcable laws to distract the police from their main task of maintaining civil order. Democracy really is revealing itself as nothing more but rule by pressure group. What a bunch of maladjusted wingers the UK population has become, and easy prey to the journeyman/or journeywoman so called human rights lawyer. What a load of narcissistic nonsense

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    I thought "threatening behaviour" was already a crime. Could stalking not be dealt with by using the legislation governing this instead of resorting to a new law?


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