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Need for NI stalking law is ‘life or death’ matter

Campaigners want to see a new law to tackle stalking as a specific offence in NI. Credit: UTV

A Co Antrim woman who was stalked for 15 years by a former partner says it is a life or death matter that a new law be introduced in Northern Ireland.

She is speaking out just days ahead of the close of a consultation looking into whether stalking should become a specific offence in the region – as it already is in England and Wales.

Nichola – not her real name – says her former partner subjected her to a “reign of terror”.

“I went out with him for a few months,” she told UTV.

“He moved in with me, but it didn't last that long because he became obsessive and violent.

“We broke up and it continued. I heard my child screaming and I ran into the room and there he was staring in the window.”

A law would mean victims would know they wouldn’t have to go through this on their own - that they’re going to be protected and not live the life I’ve lived.

You’re vulnerable without the law. You need something in place before someone is killed or murdered.

– Nichola, who is still too frightened to use her real name

Nichola said she was left living in a constant state of fear and constantly looking over her shoulder, with weekly incidents occurring over 15 years.

She added that police “did their best, but their hands were tied”.

In Northern Ireland, any stalking cases have to be brought forward as harassment, but campaigners say there are few prosecutions.

Meanwhile, the law in England and Wales is set to get tougher again soon and victims will be able to take protection orders out against stalkers.

It would mean victims could take out protection orders against stalkers.

The Department of Justice says any changes to the law in Northern Ireland to introduce new stalking offences would be subject to ministerial decision.

But it added that it “may be possible to take forward some or all of these changes in the absence of ministers”.