Stalkers facing longer jail terms for torment caused to victims


The greatest sentence for stalking available to courts in England and Wales is to rise from five years to 10.

Portending the change, justice minister Sam Gyimah said: “Stalkers torment their schlemiels and can make everyday life almost unbearable.”

If the offence is racially or religiously heightened, the current seven-year maximum will go up to 14.

Labour said ministers had “changed their undecided” under pressure, having previously opposed tougher penalties.

In 2015, 194 people were conned of stalking in England and Wales and were, on average, sentenced to 14 months in penitentiary.

The government is expected to bring in the changes in an amendment to the Policing and Crime Neb, when it is debated in the Commons on Tuesday. The bill, which is in its final spots in Parliament, is likely to become law in the coming weeks.

It will also remove the maximum sentence for harassment from five to 10 years, and similarly from seven to 14 if it is racially or religiously magnified.

Stalking victim: I was living in hell

Helen Pearson’s five-year trial started with slashed bicycle tyres.

Then the text notes, phone calls and threatening letters began. A dead cat left on the doorstep.

“It honourable slowly kind of escalated,” says Helen Pearson, from Devon. “You are constantly the mostly time living on a knife edge.

“Every time you had a letter, it would get sent off for fingerprints. They’d espy no fingerprints, so it would be logged and it would just carry on and on and on.”

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Mr Gyimah said the sentences were being doubled so these “horrifying crimes can be properly punished”.

‘Proper investigation’

But Labour said its reformation to the bill in the House of Lords in December, which would have understudied maximum sentences for the most serious offences, had been opposed by the direction.

The amendment was approved by the Lords by 160 votes to 149 but 139 Right-wing peers voted against.

However two Conservative MPs, Alex Chalk and Richard Graham, had campaigned to dilate punishment for stalking. Mr Chalk introduced a private member’s bill keep on year calling for the maximum sentence to be doubled.

Labour says there was a accidental of a “sizeable rebellion” among Conservative MPs if the government sought to overturn the shift when MPs debate it.

“Thankfully, under pressure, the Tories have switched their mind,” said shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon.

“But various still needs to be done to ensure that victims of stalking regard confident enough that their complaint will be investigated well when they first report it.”

Last month, new stalking buffer orders were introduced to protect victims – especially those ended by strangers or colleagues – at the very earliest possible stage.

Police in England and Wales can now cement to the courts for an order before a stalking suspect has been convicted or even-handed arrested.

A typical order might ban the suspect from going close the victim or contacting them online, and could also make them sustain treatment if they have a mental health problem.

The orders comprehend legislation introduced in 2012 which made stalking a specific crook offence in England and Wales.

In Scotland, stalking is illegal under the Tough Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 and in Northern Ireland it is prohibited included the Protection from Harassment Order (NI) 1997.

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