Government unlikely to revisit stalking legislation

The Government is unlikely to revisit stalking and harassment laws so soon after updating legislation in the area last year, sources say.

Department of Justice officials were responding to a campaign, launched on Monday by two victims of stalking, to have it made a specific offence.

Currently stalking is prosecuted under the umbrella offence of harassment, which is part of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997.

This is despite a recommendation from the Law Reform Commission (LRC) in 2016 that stalking be made a distinct offence from harassment. This, it argued, would underline “the different and more insidious character of the crime” and offer greater protection to the public.

The LRC pointed to legislation in Scotland which made stalking a specific offence in 2010. There were 150 stalking prosecutions in the first four months after the act was introduced, compared with 70 in the previous decade.

The Government considered making stalking a specific offence during the drafting of the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act, also known as Coco’s Law, which became law in December.

However, it was decided the offence was too similar to the offence of harassment which was already covered by the law. Instead it was decided to raise the maximum sentence for harassment from seven to 10 years to account for cases where victims were stalked.

Source link