Victims of stalking need far greater protection & the #StalkingProtectionBill(second reading Jan 19th) would introduce #StalkingProtectionOrders to stop stalkers contacting victims directly or indirectly. Breaching a SPO would be a criminal offence.
Sarah Wollaston MP: "Ask your MP to support the Stalking Protection Bill."
Dr Sarah Wollaston, MP for Totnes and Chair of the Health Select Committee, is sponsoring the Stalking Protection Bill which is due to come before Parliament for debate early next year. We spoke to her to find out why she decided to use her Private Members’ Bill to support victims of stalking, and what she hopes Stalking Protection Orders will achieve.
What is the aim of the Stalking Protection Bill?
Almost anyone can become a victim of stalking. It is a crime which devastates people’s lives causing both psychological and sometimes physical harm, including murder. In a digital age there are ever more ways that stalkers target their victims and those around them, causing fear and isolation. There is currently a gap in the law, especially for those stalked by strangers and my Bill aims to introduce a new Stalking Protection Order to protect victims at the early stages of an investigation. Importantly the Orders would not need to be applied for by victims themselves because the police would be able to make the application on their behalf. Whilst these would be civil orders, making them easier to impose, breaching their requirements would be a criminal offence with serious consequences. The Orders could also include allowing a court to require perpetrators to undergo psychiatric assessment.
What motivated you to support the Stalking Protection Bill?
The crime survey for England and Wales 2016, records that one in five women and one in ten men will experience stalking in their adult lifetime. I have met many people whose lives have been completely blighted by stalking. Despite the introduction of new stalking offences in 2012, it remains the case that these crimes are not consistently recognised, investigated or prosecuted. We need far better protection for victims and that starts with recognition of these crimes. Police Investigation Notices are wholly inadequate and it takes a criminal case to apply for a restraining order. There is a particular gap in the law to protect people who are stalked by strangers and we need a civil order that can be applied for by the police rather than victims themselves. Giving police the power to intervene early by making it straightforward to impose a SPO and to tackle a breach through tough consequences would help to stop stalkers wrecking lives.
Have you received much support from fellow MPs on this Bill?
This has cross party support, but it is really important to have 100 MPs in Parliament on the 19th January to be sure that it can pass its second reading.
If you had the opportunity to persuade your fellow MPs to support the Stalking Protection Bill in one sentence, what would you say?
Please show your support for the victims of stalking by voting to keep them safer through Stalking Protection Orders. There is a serious gap in the law and we need effective penalties for those who make victims’ lives a misery.
What can people do to support the Stalking Protection Bill?
Please write to your MP to ask them to be in Parliament on 19th January to support the Bill’s second reading.