Stalking – Does the Law need Changing?

Here are some of the headlines in the press and media this week as the Home Office launches its consultation on stalking:

Stalking may become criminal offence – Telegraph

Stalking must be a crime, Labour’s Yvette Cooper says – BBC

Stalking – in person or online – to be made an offence – Independent

Justice System “fails stalking victims” – Morning Star

Stalking Victims ‘Let Down By the System’ – Sky News

Stalking to be made a crime – Police Oracle

Many of the headlines are misleading in that much of the behaviour which constitutes what we know of colloquially as “stalking” or “cyber stalking” would constitute a crime under existing legislation such as the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

It should not be a surprise that much of this behaviour remains unreported to the police when in the words of Womens Aid “Stalking is one of the most frequently experienced types of abuse – and contrary to common belief, most stalkers are former partners or friends of their victims”. That does not imply a fault in the law.

Early evidence on “cyber stalking” suggests few partners or ex-partners engage in this behaviour. The law does not however relate in exclusivity to either strangers or known abusers.

Based only on case studies, in the absence of more complete research I would support raising awareness of “stalking” both in terms of behaviour and impact. I would also support improving systemic and individual responses to such behaviours and to addressing negative impacts.

I do not; however see any need to change the legislation (at a cost) which already encompasses the behaviours that it needs to.

3 thoughts on “Stalking – Does the Law need Changing?

  1. Pingback: ‘Stalking to be made illegal!’ – It is already illegal isn’t it?

  2. being a victim of domestic abuse and then stalking. i informed my local police (LANCASHIRE CONSTABULARY) of both situations. i reported the domestic violence no more than 1 week after i escaped the perpetrator but was told it was already a cold case. after this he began stalking me making passes of my new residence 10+ times a day. i reported this to authorities more than 2 dozen times but was constantly told he was not committing any crimes. to answer the question, YES MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE TO STOP STALKERS.

  3. @Victimofapparentlynothing – thank you so much for your comment. I am sorry for your terrible experience at the hands of the authorities compounding the abuse you suffered. It has been all too easy for the police in particular to use the lack of a law that has the label “domestic abuse” or “stalking” as one reason not to act.

    You were wrongly advised and treated – crimes were being committed against you and you were failed by those who told you otherwise.

    I completely agree that more needs to be done to stop stalkers and domestic abuse. We need a society and its authorities to recognise these aweful crimes for what they are but I would rather see the money go into training the authorities and providing the correct support than an expensive and unnecessary change of the law.

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