On Friday 23rd November the Stalking Protection Bill cleared the final two hurdles in the House of Commons – the Report Stage and Third Reading – and I spoke during both debates in support of the Bill’s passage.
The Bill provides police with an additional powers to protect the victims of stalking and to deter perpetrators at the earliest opportunity by introducing new stalking protection orders. It also enables the police to take action in cases of ‘stranger stalking’ that are outside of the domestic abuse context, and are not within the scope of current legislation. These orders can impose both prohibitions and requirements on perpetrators of stalking, while those who fail to comply with the terms will face a criminal penalty.
In the House of Commons Chamber, I said that I had heard from constituents who had been the victims of stalking and that their experiences had demonstrated how devastating and far-reaching the consequences of stalking can be. I also spoke of how victims of stalking were often reluctant to come forward as they feared not being taken seriously by the police, or that the incidents they wanted to report could be dismissed as trivial if not considered as part of an overall pattern of harassing behaviour. I also highlighted the fact that while the number of recorded stalking offences has trebled since 2014, prosecution rates have significantly declined and said it was clear there is a gap in the law which prevents police from being able to tackle stalking in all its various forms.
As the Bill cleared the House of Commons, it will now be sent to the House of Lords for consideration. I am glad that this important Bill has passed through the House of Commons and is now one step closer to becoming law. Stalking is an abhorrent behaviour that has widespread ramifications on a victim’s life - it does not only severely impact their mental state but it can also affect their relationships and careers. The passage of this Bill will hopefully provide comfort to victims and send a clear message to perpetrators that stalking is a crime the Government takes very seriously.