How new stalking powers will help Cleveland Police protect victims in Hartlepool

Police chiefs have welcomed new powers that have come into force to help stop stalking.

Tuesday, 21st January 2020, 6:00 am

Police can now apply to the courts for Stalking Protection Orders to stop defendants behaving in specified ways or visiting certain locations to protect potential or actual victims from physical or psychological harm.

Cleveland Police have welcomed the introduction of the new powers after the force saw 8,610 reports of stalking and harassment last year – a 27% increase – with social media being increasingly used by offenders.

But just 5% (450) resulted in an offender being sanctioned.

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Officers will be able to apply to magistrates for a Stalking Protection Order (SPO), blocking alleged perpetrators from contacting or approaching their victims while a probe into their behaviour continues. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Officers will be able to apply to magistrates for a Stalking Protection Order (SPO), blocking alleged perpetrators from contacting or approaching their victims while a probe into their behaviour continues. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

Temp Detective Chief Inspector Cath Galloway from the force’s Protecting Vulnerable People Unit said: “Social media and the internet are often used, with cyber-stalking or online threats just as intimidating as ‘physical’ stalking.

“However all forms of stalking and harassment can ruin victims’ quality of life, often to an unimaginable degree.

“Stalking Protection Orders are another valuable tool in the fight against those who seek to intimidate, bully and coerce others who are often extremely vulnerable and believe there is no help available to them.

“My message to anyone who is victim to stalking or harassment is this: tell us what is happening, tell us who is doing this and we will work with you and do all we can to bring that person to justice.”

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland Barry Coppinger.

Stalking Protection Orders can last from two years to an indefinite period and they can and continue even when a perpetrator is released from prison.

Police can also apply for an interim order to protect victims at short notice.

Anyone who breaches one of the orders can be fined or even sent to prison.

Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger added: “Stalking in all its forms, whether online, by phone, or in person, is a traumatic experience for those who are victims and I’m committed to doing all I can to work with the police and other partners to tackle it.

“I welcome the new legislation and powers and the commitment of Cleveland Police to enforce them.”

For more information about stalking visit The Suzy Lamplugh Trust at suzylamplugh.org

The phone number for the National Stalking Helpline is 0808 802 0300.