As we mark the 5th anniversary of the introduction of the stalking legislation, and the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, I can only reflect on how far we have come and how much there still is to do. 

We know that stalking is still not routinely recognised when victims report behaviours to the police, and we know that the difference between stalking and harassment is still not appreciated by many.  This leads to victims feeling unsupported and left in high risk situations without adequate safety planning. 

The HMICFRS/HMCPSI thematic report into stalking published in July shone a spotlight on this issue and this has led to a renewed focus across government and the criminal justice system on stalking and the impact it has on victims.  We are working with partners to implement recommendations from that report to help victims feel safer and be safer.

One of the areas the Home Office has particularly focussed on is the introduction of Stalking Protection Orders to help protect victims of stalking at the earliest opportunity.

The aim of these Orders is to provide a mechanism to support all victims of stalking, beyond those who have been in an intimate relationship with their stalker.  They aim to give police officers the power to restrict and curtail stalking behaviours.  Where appropriate, officers will be able to request positive obligations on perpetrators including attending intervention programmes, to break fixated and obsessive behaviours before they become entrenched.  Unlike previously used Police Information Notices, these new Orders will have criminal sanctions giving them real weight.

Suzy Lamplugh Trust supports the introduction of this new Order.  We are told by our clients on the National Stalking Helpline that they would welcome this new level of support.

We were delighted when the Home Secretary chose to announce the introduction of Stalking Protection Orders at Suzy Lamplugh Trust offices last December.  We have been collaborating with Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, who is sponsoring the Bill to legislate for SPOs, to ensure the Bill is robust and meets the needs of the clients of the National Stalking Helpline.  

We are at the next stage of the journey now.  The Stalking Protection Bill will have its second reading on 19th January 2018.  To progress, it needs to gain the support of Members of the House of Commons.  I urge you to write to your MP and ask them to support the Bill and support victims of this insidious crime who need their help.