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A Home Office spokesman has said it works with police and prosecutors to ensure the new stalking law is properly enforced, although it is up to chief constables to make sure their officers are trained.
Stalking became a crime in England and Wales for the first time in November 2012, with two specific new offences introduced:
- The first is dealt with by magistrates only, and applies where a person is accused of targeting someone in a course of conduct that amounts to stalking, and involves a maximum jail term of six months
- The second, more serious offence, can be heard either by magistrates or in a crown court, and applies where someone is accused of causing a person fear of violence or serious alarm or distress. This can mean a jail term of up to five years.
The latest figures on stalking arrests and charging are disappointing but not surprising, the Co-director of the national stalking advocacy said today, after it showed that only a "fraction" of stalkers had been convicted.
Harry Fletcher of Paladin said:
A "fraction" of stalkers have been convicted since it was made a criminal offence and police and prosecutors need better training in dealing with the crime, an advice service has said.
Figures obtained under a freedom of information request showed that between November 2012, when stalking became a crime, and the end of June this year, 320 people were arrested across 30 police forces.
Of those 189 were charged - so far six of those have been jailed and 27 given community disposals.