New rulings that make stalking a crime have been hailed by police chiefs.
On Sunday, November 25, stalking becomes a specific crime under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
There are two new offences: one of stalking, triable at magistrates’ court only, and one of stalking involving fear of violence or serious harm or distress. This more serious offence could be tried at crown court with a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.
Detective Superintendent Nev Kemp of Sussex Police said: “We welcome the new law, which will give police an extra focus on this difficult and sensitive subject. All officers and staff who come into contact with the public will have received training and briefings on how to use it, alongside their existing powers.
“We recognise that stalking and harassment can have a significant effect on victims and their families. The constant fear of harm or just the thought that they will not be left alone, and the potential for harm can lead to a victim feeling isolated, erode self-confidence, cause paranoia and lead to a complete change of lifestyle.
“The consequences of this criminal behaviour for the victim can be huge and so a bespoke law and additional training for officers and staff are positive steps in tackling it.”