20/03/2024

Belfast Man Handed Two-Year Stalking Protection Order

The PSNI have welcomed a two-year Stalking Protection Order (SPO) handed down to a 46-year-old Belfast man at Belfast Magistrates Court.

The man had been found guilty of stalking and harassing his 50-year-old female ex-partner.

SPO's were first introduced to Northern Ireland in October 2023 and this is the first case where an order has been granted. Breaching an order can result in a prison sentence of up to five years. The order was issued after the court heard how the defendant had refused to stop contacting his ex-partner and her son and harassing her family members. The defendant would also turn up at her home address on a number of occasions.

Welcoming the sentencing, Detective Chief Superintendent Lindsay Fisher of the Service's Public Protection Branch said: "Throughout this case the victim has shown huge bravery and we'd like to commend her and her family for their support in our application for this protection order."

In an anonymised statement the stalking victim said: "I have waited years for a law to protect me and my son. I am so thankful that there is now an order in place that can protect us. I hope this gives other victims some hope that there is help available. I am so happy, I feel I don't have to live as a prisoner in my own life anymore."

The order will remain in place for two years as a criminal investigation progresses and prevents the man in question from contacting the woman or her family by any means, including on social media and prohibits the locations he can go to in her local area.
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Detective Chief Superintendent Fisher continued: "Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) provide another tool for us to help protect victims and improve their safety. This is the first time we have obtained a SPO and marks a huge milestone for Northern Ireland since new legislation was introduced only a number of months ago.

"We are seeing continued positive policing in this area with alleged offenders being arrested weekly. We will continue to raise awareness and encourage victims to come forward with the knowledge that we now have over 5,000 officers and staff trained to recognise and respond and that they take all reports seriously.

"The operationalisation of SPOs allows our officers, like in this case, to take swift and decisive action, putting restrictions in place and ultimately being ready to enforce breaches, treating them as criminal offences.

"Our readiness to take action in this way we hope will have a hugely positive effect on the confidence people have in coming forward, knowing that in Northern Ireland we take stalking incredibly seriously."

Only the police can apply for the orders, meaning there is no pressure on a victim to make an application. Any breach of the order is a criminal offence and there are wide-ranging powers attached. Stalking Protection Orders can be obtained for both domestic and stranger stalking so Police would urge victims to come forward and reassure them that their concerns will be taken seriously.

For more information about harassment or stalking, please visit: psni.police.uk/safety-and-support.




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