The Alice Ruggles Trust is delighted that Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) have now been introduced. This happened on Monday January 20, 2020.
These new civil orders enable police to protect victims when they report a stalking crime, rather than having to wait for a criminal conviction. The SPO can, for example, prohibit the stalker from contacting the victim or going to certain places (such as the victim’s home or place of work). Importantly, breaching an SPO will be a serious criminal offence that should result in immediate action by the police. Although the majority of stalkers are former or current intimate partners of their victims, SPOs will also help in cases of ‘stranger stalking’.
The Alice Ruggles Trust is working hard to make stalking victims more aware of the dangers they face and to come to the police earlier than many do at present. Stalking Protection Orders represent a powerful new tool to help the police respond in the right way when they do.
It is important, though, that SPOs are used alongside the existing laws against stalking and not as a substitute for seeking a criminal conviction for a stalking offence. They are an aid to help protect victims while investigations are being carried out.
It is also crucial that there is no delay in arresting a perpetrator who breaches an SPO: any other response may well escalate the risk to the victim.
We believe that the existence of SPOs could have made a critical difference in Alice’s case, and will help improve the outcome for many others in the future.
SPOs result from the Stalking Protection Bill, a Private Member’s Bill steered through the Commons during 2018 by Dr Sarah Wollaston (pictured above), then MP for Totnes, and through the Lords by Baroness Gabby Bertin. The Alice Ruggles Trust campaigned in support of the Bill, which had cross-party support and became law in 2019. We are committed to doing all we can to aid training and professional awareness-raising among the police, CPS and judiciary to ensure that the Orders are now used to best effect within the criminal justice system.
Further information on Stalking Protection Orders: