Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd has welcomed steps by police and prosecutors to improve the way they treat victims of stalking and harassment.
The Crown Prosecution Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers have launched new guidance to ensure a consistent approach to tackling this crime and remind officers and prosecutors to focus on the devastating impact it has on victims.
The guidance comes as new figures show a 20 per cent increase in prosecutions for stalking and harassment offences this year.
New laws were brought in last November which created two new stalking offences – stalking and stalking that causes serious distress or fear of violence. Since then 743 cases have been brought to court across the UK – cases which may not have been charged under previous legislation.
Tony said: “Stalking has a devastating impact on people’s lives and it’s important to get the message out that police and prosecutors will take reports of stalking seriously. It’s encouraging that more cases are being brought to court and I hope this reassures victims that they will be listened to and gives them the confidence to come forward and report it.
“However, more needs to be done to make sure the needs of victims come first every time and is why I welcome steps to ensure there is a consistent approach to how victims of stalking and harassment are treated, and that police and prosecutors take their needs into account throughout the justice process so they get the help and support they need.”
The guidance reminds police and prosecutors to ensure that victims are consulted on issues such as bail and restraining orders, fully investigate the reasons behind any victim withdrawing a complaint, ensuring it is not the result of pressure from others, and instructs prosecutors to apply, where possible, for restraining orders on both conviction and acquittal.
The full guidance is available on the CPS website.
To report an incident of stalking, contact the police on 101 or visit your local police station. In an emergency dial 999.
For support, call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 or visit www.stalkinghelpline.org.