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Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has welcomed the government's move to make stalking a crime.
Cooper said the move should help the criminal justice system crack down on the offence.
She said: "We campaigned hard for this new law against stalking and I am glad that the government accepted our reforms and listened to the victims who have been so determined and brave in speaking out after enduring terrible distress and abuse.
"Victims deserve swift justice and protection from the law - hopefully stalking becoming a criminal offence in its own right will help courts and the criminal justice system focus more quickly and effectively on stopping this crime."
Crime prevention minister Jeremy Browne says the introduction of new legislation making stalking a criminal offence will stop the issue being "brushed under the carpet".
Speaking on BBC Breakfast, he said:
Victims and Equalities Minister Helen Grant said creating new stalking offences will ensure "victims of this heinous crime are better protected and will bring more offenders to justice".
Ms Grant said:
New laws designed to give extra protection to victims of stalking have come into force.
The Government is also providing new support aimed at reducing domestic and sexual violence and female genital mutilation (FGM).
Two specific criminal offences of stalking have come into force in England and Wales for the first time.
This is part of a package of new funds and measures to crack down on abuse leading into the 16 days of action that follow yesterday's UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
A victim of stalking has created a mobile phone application that alerts family and friends if someone is in danger.
The innovation comes as the Government has introduced two new criminal offences today, stalking and stalking involving a fear of violence.
Stalking has been made a specific criminal offence in England and Wales in a move to improve the safety of victims.
Under the new Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, the Government has introduced two offences, stalking and stalking involving a fear of violence.
Previously, the Protection of Harassment Act 1997 did not specifically name stalking as an offence, instead citing two criminal offences of harassment.
An inquiry into stalking earlier this year by Parliament found that around 120,000 people are victims of stalking every year.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “We have been campaigning for a new law on stalking for some time so it is welcome that the Government has accepted that changes are needed.
"However I am worried their plans do not go far enough, and are not strong enough. Their proposals risk being half-hearted and over-complicated, so victims won't get the protection they need."
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Today on International Women's Day, the Government announced plans to make stalking a specific criminal offence.
International Women's Day is an important day to mark the injustices women suffer, both minor and major, at home and abroad.