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.
Today on International Women's Day, the Government announced plans to make stalking a specific criminal offence.Read the full story ›
Happy International Women’s day. My advice to young women: educate yourselves, work hard, be brave, and help each other.
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."
The government has denied reports that the new European legislation to outlaw violence against women would mean a ban on wolf-whistling. A spokesman said:
"We are talking about a serious issue of harassment and stalking and domestic violence and abuse. Millions of women across Europe suffer from violence and abuse. By signing this convention, we are ensuring that British offenders who commit offences abroad will face justice in our courts."
The Association of Chief Police officers have welcomed the government's new legislation on stalking as a "positive step". Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said:
"Proposed new powers of entry to investigate stalking offences were specifically requested by police, and improved training and guidance for both police and prosecutors will play a key part to improving our response to stalking victims."
"The key to protecting victims and alleviating the fear and harm is through everyone taking the issue seriously, through extensive awareness-raising and through improved and effective response to stalking by police officers, the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts and the health service."
Stalking is to be made into a new criminal offence in legislation announced by the government today.
Two new offences have been announced: stalking and stalking were there is a fear of violence. The measures are part of the government's plan to clamp down on violence against women and children.
Police will be given greater powers to help tackle the problem in an attempt to prevent stalking and harassment turning into murder.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
“Stalking is an issue which affects many lives, often in devastating ways."
"Offenders need to know that they will be brought to justice for making others’ lives a misery. We will do all we can to protect victims of stalking more effectively and to end this appalling crime.”
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg outlined the legislation his coalition government are doing to help women.
Nick Clegg was outnumbered by some of the most high profile business women in the country this morning as he opened trading in the London Stock Exchange.
They were celebrating the achievements of women in business as part of International Women's Day.
He said he now knew what it felt like to be the token women at an event, as he was the token man, and celebrated the success of the women present. However he admitted:
"We still have a long way to go, there still aren't enough women who are breaking through the glass barriers in business, there still aren't enough women in top flight positions in politics, there is still a lot of work to be done"