Force Welcomes New Tools to Tackle Stalking and Harassment
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Cleveland Police has welcomed the introduction of new powers to deal with those who persist in stalking or harassing others.
From today (Monday 20th January) officers can apply to a Magistrates’ Court for Stalking Protection Orders if they believe that someone is stalking another person, or even if someone simply poses a risk associated with stalking to another person.
Police can also apply if they believe an order is necessary to protect someone from stalking (whether or not they’ve already been victim to this).
Stalking Protection Orders can be individually tailored to specific circumstances and can prohibit defendants from behaving in a certain way or visiting certain locations, in order to protect potential or actual victims from physical or psychological harm.
Officers can also apply for an interim order while the process of being granted a regular Stalking Protection Order is underway. This will help ensure victims can be protected at short notice.
Once an order has been approved and issued, they can last from two years to an indefinite period and they can run alongside a custodial sentence and continue even when a perpetrator is released from prison, meaning the victim has a longer period of protection.
The force recorded 8610 stalking and harassment crimes in 2019. This is a rise of rise of 27% on the preceding year when we recorded 6770 offences.
Five per cent of these offences (450) resulted in an offender being sanction for the offence. The rate is similar to the previous year (5.4%) when 312 resulted in a sanction.
Penalties for stalking and harassment can range from a police caution, a fixed penalty notice to being charged to court to be dealt with there.
Sentences can be up to 10 years, reflecting the severity of this crime and the potential damage it can cause victims.
If a Stalking Protection Order is breached, the defendant may receive a fine and or a prison sentence.
Temp Detective Chief Inspector Cath Galloway from the force’s Protecting Vulnerable People Unit said: “Stalking and harassment offences unfortunately continue to rise. Social media and the internet are often used, with cyber-stalking or online threats just as intimidating as ‘physical’ stalking. However all forms of stalking and harassment can ruin victims’ quality of life, often to an unimaginable degree.
“Our officers are trained in identifying these offences and dealing with them where they do occur – always with the victim at the heart of an investigation.
“Stalking Protection Orders are another valuable tool in the fight against those who seek to intimidate, bully and coerce others who are often extremely vulnerable and believe there is no help available to them. This should reassure the public that the justice system as a whole is committed to supporting and protecting those at significant risk of harm.
“My message to anyone who is victim to stalking or harassment is this: tell us what is happening, tell us who is doing this and we will work with you and do all we can to bring that person to justice.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger added: “Stalking in all its forms, whether online, by phone, or in person, is a traumatic experience for those who are victims and I’m committed to doing all I can to work with the police and other partners to tackle it. I welcome the new legislation and powers and the commitment of Cleveland Police to enforce them.
“I’m hopeful that victims will begin to feel the benefit immediately and we can make more progress in supporting victims of stalking in the months to come.”
For more information on stalking and harassment visit: