‘Know the law, use the law’ will be this year’s message as Cheshire Police support National Stalking Awareness Day on 18th April. What makes the day so poignant this year is the fact that victims will have extra protection as stalking becomes a specific criminal offence for the first time.
Three charities, Protection Against Stalking, Suzy Lamplugh Trust and the Network for Surviving Stalking have joined forces with police and the Home Office to raise awareness about the issue by having a dedicated day.
Two new laws came into force on 25th November 2012, giving the police additional powers to protect the victim:
a) If harassed, e.g., contacting/attempting to contact, monitoring the victim (including online), loitering in a public or private place, watching or spying
b) If stalking instills fear, serious alarm or distress, e.g., emotional or psychological trauma which changes the way the victim lives their life.
The new criminal offences are designed to provide extra protection for victims; highlighting the serious impact that stalking can have on their lives and helping to bring more perpetrators to justice.
Additionally, under the new legislation, officers can search premises for evidence of stalking that will assist in bringing offenders to justice. The introduction of legislation that makes stalking a specific offence sends out a message to offenders, that stalking in any form is a crime.
DCI Nigel Wenham, of Crime Operations said that "Stalking Awareness Day provides a platform and with the new legislative acts in place, warns perpetrators about the consequences of stalking. The new offences will make it clear that any type of stalking will be investigated by Cheshire Police. Those convicted of stalking by following a person, loitering in any place, and contacting or attempting to contact a person by any means could lead to a term of imprisonment between six months and five years."
Cheshire Police will be supporting stalking awareness throughout April to highlight the underlying issues of stalking which will include a victim’s account of their own personal experiences. For more information, please visit www.cheshire.police.uk or http://www.upbeat.uk.com/17plus.