The government has released new guidelines on the prosecution of stalking and harassment cases.
The newly published ‘protocol’ is a joint publication of the Crown Prosecution Service and the Association of Chief Police Officers. It is intended to encourage a consistent approach to the prosecution of offences which lacked a clear legal definition before the introduction of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. This allowed courts to convict individuals whose behaviour was not sufficiently extreme for a ‘fear of violence’ conviction, but which nevertheless caused alarm or distress.
The announcement was accompanied by new figures highlighting the number of prosecutions since the Act came into force on 31 October last year. A total of 743 cases have been brought to court and there has also been a 20 per cent rise in the prosecution of all stalking and harassment offences, using older legislation as well as the 2012 act.
Director of Public Prosecutions Alison Saunders said:
“It is encouraging to see more offenders being brought to justice but police and prosecutors need to do more still to protect the victims of this pernicious crime.”
“Stalking and harassment is about the control of others and its impact can be devastating. Stalking creates an environment of continual fear with many victims feeling not only in physical danger but also suffering psychological distress as a result.
Read the new protocol here.
In May, the Crown Prosecution Service released new guidelines designed to encourage the detection of domestic violence directed towards teenagers and elderly people.