Press release

Maximum sentence for stalking to double

Justice Minister Sam Gyimah announces plans to double the maximum sentence for stalking.

Justice Minister Sam Gyimah
  • maximum prison sentences for stalking to double from 5 to 10 years
  • government acts to make sure punishment fits the seriousness of the crime
  • move builds on recently announced plans for new stalking protection orders

People who stalk victims and devastate their lives can be sent to jail for longer, the Ministry of Justice has announced.

The maximum custodial sentence available to the courts for stalking will increase from 5 to 10 years, and from 7 to 14 years if the offence was racially or religiously aggravated.

Ministers say the plans will help make sure the punishment reflects the severity of the crime and its damaging consequences on victims.

Justice Minister Sam Gyimah said:

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.

I would like to thank Alex Chalk MP and Richard Graham MP for their considerable efforts in highlighting this issue.

We are also working across the criminal justice system to ensure mental health issues associated with these crimes are properly addressed.

The government will seek to implement the change through an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill, currently going through Parliament. It will go further than the amendment recently passed in the House of Lords, as it will also raise the maximum sentence for harassment – from 5 to 10 years and 7 to 14 years if racially or religiously aggravated.

The move will make it possible for the courts to impose longer sentences in the most serious cases.

The government is taking further action to protect victims from stalking, including new protection orders to intervene early to keep victims safe and stop ‘stranger stalking’ before it escalates. The new measures will allow the police to place controls on perpetrators, preventing their behaviour intensifying while the crime is being investigated.

Notes to editors

  • In 2015, a total of 1,029 people were convicted of the two offences (194 people of the stalking offence and 835 of putting people in fear of violence). The average custodial sentence for stalking was 14.1 months.
  • Sentencing remains a matter for independent judges, with decisions made based on the full facts of the case.
  • While in prison, an offender’s mental health needs are assessed and a range of individual or group treatments can be provided. We have also invested in specialist mental health training for prison officers.
  • Stalking protection orders were announced by the Home Secretary in December 2016.
  • The government has today (Friday 6 January) tabled an amendment to the Policing and Crime Bill to give effect to these increases in maximum sentences. The amendment will be considered by the House of Commons on Tuesday 10 January.

For more information call the MOJ press office on 020 3334 3503 or 020 3334 3529

Published 6 January 2017