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Home Office to "carefully consider" stalking offence

  • Home Office to "carefully consider" stalking offence

    An independent inquiry tasked with reforming the current laws on harassment has called for key changes to training and risk assessment as well as the treatment and sentencing of stalkers.

    As well as proposing a new specific offence of stalking, MPs and peers warned that unless there was "fundamental reform" of the current system, victims could not be protected. According to the British Crime Survey, there are 120,000 stalking cases each year but only 2% of those end in the offender receiving a custodial sentence. The inquiry revealed that only 20 stalkers a year are jailed for longer than a year and many offenders have custodial sentences lasting a few days or are given community orders or directed to attend "inappropriate" domestic violence courses.

    Noteworthy among the inquiry's 30 recommendations are:

    • anyone who breaches a restraining order should face a term of imprisonment;
    • bail should be refused to anyone charged with a serious violence or sexual offence (unless there are exceptional circumstances);
    • an offender's previous offences should be taken into account;
    • restrictions should be placed on an offender's use of telephones, IT and letters if and when they are imprisoned; and
    • judges should have the power to suspend the parental responsibilities of anyone convicted of a "serious" stalking-related offence in order to stop them from attempting to gain contact via the family courts.

News, published: 09/02/2012

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Published: 09/02/2012

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