The sentencing guidelines for stalking has been amended after the Government had vowed to double the current prison sentence from 5 to 10 years due to pressure on MPs and peers to have a stricter outlook on the crime.
Additionally, where a victim of the harassment has been either racially or religiously aggravated, the Ministry of Justice has announced the initial sentence will again double from 7 to 14 years.
Statistics have shown that in England and Wales, there were 194 people convicted of stalking in 2015 with the average custodial sentence being 14.1 months. These stats go on to show that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men will be affected by stalking throughout their respective lifetime while the National Stalking Helpline has responded to approximately 14,000 calls in relation to stalking since it was founded in 2010.
Since these 2015 stats were announced, in the 12 months to June 2016, there was a reported 32% rise from the previous year as police had recorded 4,168 stalking offences.
Justice Minister Sam Gyimah announced the sentence reform by saying:
“Stalkers torment their victims and can make everyday life almost unbearable.
"We are doubling the maximum sentences available to the courts so these awful crimes can be properly punished.
"We are also working across the criminal justice system to ensure mental health issues associated with these crimes are properly addressed."
“The provisions of the Protection from Harassment legislation are very widely used by the Police in cases arising from domestic violence or abuse. There is evidence to show that at that level programmes of rehabilitation and education are the most effective way of reducing offending. The proposed changes will only affect the most serious cases heard at the Crown Court and we might doubt whether simply increasing the maximum sentence will have any effect on offending rates. The reference to increased attention to the provision for mental health issues throughout the Criminal Justice system is most likely to affect offending rates and is welcomed.”
If you have been accused of stalking or any other form of criminal activity contact us on freephone 0808 168 5550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will arrange a telephone consultation to see how we can assist you.