Powerful new Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs), which came into force on 20 January 2020, allow courts in England and Wales to move quicker to ban stalkers from contacting their victims or visiting their place of work, home or study. SPOs can also force a stalker to seek professional help.
The Stalking Protection Act 2019 introduces the new civil SPO. The order closes the gap in the existing protective order regime. The threshold to commence criminal proceedings for the commission of an offence does not need to be met for an order to be made – which allows for early police intervention.
A SPO is not an alternative to a prosecution for a stalking offence under the Protection from Harassment Act, but it can be used to complement a prosecution of a stalking offence.
The purpose of the order is to enable early police intervention pre-conviction to address the stalking behaviours before they become entrenched or escalate and cause victims more harm.
Orders are intended to last for a minimum of two years, with a breach constituting a criminal offence, which can carry up to five years in prison.
Victoria Atkins, Minister for Safeguarding and Vulnerability said that she is determined to do everything she can to better protect victims and the new SPOs will help the police intervene and take action at the earliest opportunity.
Written by Diana Goldstein, associate at BLM