06/11/2019

NI Majority Supports New Law On Stalking

The majority of people in Northern Ireland would strongly support the introduction of stalking legislation, a public consultation has found.

The Department of Justice welcomed the clear message from the public but said changes in legislation will be delayed until a Northern Ireland Assembly is formed.

Former Justice Minister Claire Sugden commissioned the review into current laws in 2016. With the responses now published, the Independent MLA said it was always her intention to create a new law. Ms Sugden also expressed regret at the delay caused by almost three years of political deadlock at Stormont.

The review and public consultation considered measures to make the justice system more effective in dealing with reports of stalking behaviour and supporting the victims of stalking.

A total of 85 responses were submitted within the 12 week period, which ended in 2019.
News Image
Analysis of the responses found clear evidence that the majority would strongly support the introduction of stalking legislation.

The Department will recommend a bill with legislative provisions to introduce a new offence of stalking to any incoming Justice Minister.

Following confirmation of public support for her proposals, Ms Sugden commented: "Stalking is psychologically damaging. The harm caused is often long term and some victims do sadly die. It takes form as a wide spectrum of behaviour. Stalkers can be obsessive ex-partners or a fixated stranger from a brief encounter with their victim. Currently, harassment law can capture some stalking behaviours, but not all and police find it difficult to gather evidence to prove this crime. A new specific, stalking law will hopefully target predators.

"I am pleased the public supports the new law, but like many other issues, we need a government and functioning Assembly to do so. This will only happen when the main two parties decide they want to work together again. Shameful that political expediency is more important than people's lives."



(JG/CM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

13 March 2020
Nine New Covid-19 Cases Identified
Nine new cases of coronavirus have been diagnosed in Northern Ireland. Work is underway to establish any contacts the individuals have had. It's unclear as yet whether the cases confirm the beginning of community transmission. A total of 321 people have been tested in recent weeks, of which 29 were positive.
09 January 2020
Funeral Of Popular NI Broadcaster Open To The Public
A funeral service for popular local broadcaster Stephen Clements is to be held in Belfast next Tuesday, 14 January. The service for the BBC Radio Ulster star will take place at Roselawn cemetery and will be open to the public. News of the death of the much-loved radio presenter was announced by the BBC on Tuesday, 07 January.
06 December 2019
Cash Machines Stolen From Antrim Tesco
Police have recovered a double ATM machine that was ripped from the wall of a supermarket in Antrim. The theft took place overnight in the town's Castle Way area. Officers responded to the incident shortly after 3am on Friday morning, 06 December, to discover a digger on fire and the unit housing two machines stolen.
05 December 2019
Public Urged To Order Repeat Prescriptions
As we approach the Christmas and New Year holidays, patients on regular medication are urged to plan ahead and order their repeat prescriptions. Some 15,000 calls have been made to GP Out of Hours services from people who have ran out of medicine or forgotten to order their repeat prescriptions.
24 November 2005
Company law changes promise reduced red tape
Proposed new legislation will cut down on red tape for businesses in Northern Ireland, the Government has said. Enterprise Minister Angela Smith said the Company Law Reform Bill will consolidate the UK's position as one of the best places in the world to set up and run a business.