The Department of Justice has announced that Stalking Protection Orders will come into effect today (Thursday October 19) and will be a key tool for police to use to protect victims of stalking where there is an immediate risk of harm.
Stalking Protection Orders will allow police to intervene early in an investigation, prior to any conviction of stalking, in an effort to disrupt stalking behaviours before they become entrenched, or escalate in severity.
Richard Pengelly CB, Permanent Secretary at the Department of Justice, said: “I welcome the introduction of these new Orders. Stalking can have a devastating impact on victims, and this new measure will offer protection for victims of stalking from the very start of an investigation.
“Importantly, the onus is taken away from the victim to apply for these Orders as the police will apply directly to the courts.
“I am grateful to justice partners in the Police Service of Northern Ireland, Public Prosecution Service and Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service for their work in bringing Stalking Protection Orders into operation.”
The police will be able to apply to the court for a Stalking Protection Order if it appears that a person has carried out acts associated with stalking or poses a risk associated with stalking and there is reasonable cause to believe the Stalking Protection Order is necessary to protect another person.
Stalking Protection Orders will also allow police to apply for restrictions on perpetrators, for example, prohibiting them from entering a particular area or from making contact with the victim including by telephone, post, email, text message, or social media, or physically approaching the victim.
An Order will last for a minimum of two years and the breach of the terms of an Order will be a criminal offence, which will carry a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment.
Stalking Protection Orders are being introduced through the Protection from Stalking Act (Northern Ireland) 2022. The Act also introduced the new offences of stalking and threatening or abusive behaviour in April 2022.
Notes to editors:
1. Guidance is available on the DoJ website.
2. If you need support or advice contact the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 or visit Suzy Lamplugh Trust
4. If you need help from the police call 101. In an emergency always call 999.
5. Further details on stalking can be found on NI Direct
6. Copies of the Act can be accessed at Legislation.gov
7. Media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via Email
8. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted out of hours on 028 9037 8110.
- Departments of Justice and Communities launch anti-social behaviour consultation 28 November 2023
- Major milestone for sexual offences legislation 27 November 2023
- Cyber Crime, Modern Slavery and Sentencing: Findings from the 2021/22 NI Safe Community Telephone Survey published today 24 November 2023
- Permanent Secretary visits Lough Neagh Rescue 24 November 2023