Stalking:Written question - 220966

Q
Asked by Philip Davies
(Shipley)
Asked on: 15 January 2015
Attorney General
Stalking
Commons
To ask the Attorney General, what assessment he has made of the effect of the stalking offences introduced by the implementation of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 on the number of other offences charged under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
A
Answered by: Mr Robert Buckland
Answered on: 22 January 2015

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 created two new offences of stalking by inserting new sections 2A and 4A into the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. The new offences, which are not retrospective, came into force on the 25th of November 2012 and provide further options for prosecutors to consider when selecting charges. Between the introduction of the new stalking offences on the 25th of November 2012 and the end of September 2014, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) data for stalking offences charged by prosecutors shows a steady rise. It is not possible to determine with certainty the impact that the stalking offences have had on the number of other offences charged under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Figures for the number of stalking and harassment charges that reached a first hearing at Magistrates’ Courts are set out in the table below:

2011-2012

2012-2013

2013-2014

2014-2015

(April - Sept 2014)

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

{ 2(1) and (2) }

Harassment.

7,713

7,159

8,303

4,381

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

{ 4(1) and (4) }

Harassment involving

fear of violence.

1,632

1,398

1,489

859

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

{ 2A(1) and (4) }

Stalking with fear

/ alarm / distress.

0

72

529

319

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

{ 4A(1)(a)(b)(i) and (5) }

Stalking involving

fear of violence.

0

9

65

59

Protection from Harassment Act 1997

{ 4A(1)(a)(b)(ii) and (5) }

Stalking involving

serious alarm / distress.

0

10

149

122

TOTAL HARASSMENT OFFENCES

9,345

8,648

10,535

5,740

Data Source: CPS Case Management Information System

Notes:

1. Whilst there is no strict legal definition of 'stalking', section 2A (3) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 sets out examples of acts or omissions which, in particular circumstances, are ones associated with stalking. These include: following, contacting, or attempting to contact a person by any means (this may be through friends, work colleagues, family or technology); or, other intrusions into the victim's privacy such as loitering in a particular place or watching or spying on a person. The effect of such behaviour is to curtail a victim's freedom, leaving them feeling that they constantly have to be watchful. In many cases, the conduct might appear innocent (if it were to be taken in isolation), but when carried out repeatedly so as to amount to a course of conduct, it may then cause significant alarm, harassment or distress to the victim.

2. The table of data indicates the volume of offences charged in which a prosecution commenced at magistrates’ courts for offences of harassment. No information is held as to the number of individual defendants prosecuted, or details related to these individuals. It is often the case that an individual defendant is charged with more than one offence against the same victim.

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