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.
Stalking is an appalling crime that destroys lives. The impact on victims can be devastating and we are doing all we can to make sure they have the protection they need and do not have to live in fear.
These new offences send a clear message to offenders that stalking is a serious crime and they will be brought to justice for making others' lives a misery.
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.
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.”