A consultation on new measures to better protect victims of stalking – ‘stranger stalking’ in particular – and help deter perpetrators from becoming fixated, has been launched today (Saturday 5 December) by the government.
Recent figures on the prevalence of stalking show an estimated 1 in 5 women and 1 in 10 men are victims of stalking during their lifetimes, and the new stalking protection order would mean victims are kept safe while police gather vital evidence ahead of a potential prosecution being brought.
One aim of the order would be to deter perpetrators before their fixation with their victim becomes entrenched, or to prevent them from moving on to further victims.
Under the current stalking legislation introduced in 2012, over 1,100 prosecutions were commenced in 2014/15, a rise of nearly 50% since last year. The new order will address stalking earlier and mean victims are protected ahead of cases reaching the courts.
To mark the 16 Days of Action against Gender-Based Violence following from International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, the government has also announced a package of new measures to better protect victims of domestic abuse and violence:
The new coercive or controlling behaviour offence will come into force on Tuesday 29 December and guidance for professionals has been launched today. It will mean victims who experience coercive and controlling behaviour that stops short of serious physical violence, but amounts to extreme psychological and emotional abuse, can bring their perpetrators to justice. The offence will carry a maximum of 5 years’ imprisonment.
The Home Office and Government Equalities Office are funding £3.85 million to develop a new phase of the campaign to tackle abuse within teenage relationships which will launch in the new year. This follows on from the acclaimed ‘This is Abuse’ campaign, which since 2010 has encouraged teens to rethink their views of violence, controlling behaviour and what consent means within their relationships – thereby helping to change attitudes which can underpin violence against women and girls.
International Development Minister Baroness Verma has been confirmed as the new Ministerial Champion for Tackling Violence against Women and Girls Overseas. This is a cross-government position dedicated to driving the UK’s efforts to end all forms of violence against women and girls overseas.
The government will publish a refreshed Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) strategy shortly, which will set out the whole package of support for victims and how it will deliver on the ambition to make awareness of VAWG ‘everyone’s business’ across all agencies, professions and the wider public.
Minister for Preventing Abuse and Exploitation Karen Bradley said:
No one should ever suffer in silence or live in fear of stalking, violence or abuse.
Being stalked by a stranger can have terrifying consequences and we want to make sure victims have protection in place early to give the police time to gather evidence in order to bring the perpetrators to justice.
We are encouraged that more and more victims are coming forward to report domestic abuse and violence to the police, and prosecutions are now at their highest ever levels. We have made enormous progress since 2010, but there is always more to do to stop violence and abuse before it happens.
Our new domestic abuse offence will protect victims of coercive or controlling behaviour who would otherwise be subjected to sustained patterns of abuse that can lead to total control of their lives by the perpetrator. We are sending a clear message that it is wrong to violate the trust of those closest to you and that emotional and controlling abuse will not be tolerated.
Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan said:
Every young woman has the right to grow up free from fear, and empowered to reach their full potential. As Minister for Women and Equalities I’m committed to making this a reality.
We must start early – it’s important that young people learn both in the classroom and at home that acts of violence or intimidation are abhorrent and have no place in our society. That’s why as part of a range of government action we’re relaunching the ‘This is Abuse’ campaign to make sure every young person understands what a healthy relationship is and knows where they can go for help.
Baroness Verma, International Development Minister and new Ministerial Champion for Tackling VAWG Overseas, said:
One in three women worldwide are beaten or go through sexual violence in their lifetime. This is frankly shocking.
Britain is working around the world to put a stop to this suffering, from helping victims of sexual violence get the counselling and care they need to supporting the Africa-led movement to end FGM.
It’s an honour to accept the role of Ministerial Champion. Working with colleagues across government I intend to ensure Britain continues to show global leadership in efforts to end violence against women and girls.