Holyrood to consider introduction of ‘stalking protection orders’

Mairi Gougeon

The Scottish Parliament is to consider a private members’ bill creating a new form of protection order in cases of stalking.

SNP MSP Mairi Gougeon will bring forward legislation to create “stalking protection orders”, which would allow police to apply to court for a protection order on behalf of a victim of stalking.

Victims of stalking can currently apply to a civil court for a non-harassment order, the breach of which is a criminal offence.

Ms Gougeon believes the new class of protection order would mean that victims would not have to take legal action through the courts themselves at a time when they may be particularly vulnerable, and which may be at their own expense if they do not qualify for legal aid.

The Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2014/15 found that the reporting rate for stalking and harassment is low compared to other crimes.

Ms Gougeon said: “Stalking is an incredibly serious crime which can have a life-changing impact on victims, and which is too often not reported to police at all.

“While there are currently legal tools to tackle harassment, a non-harassment order requires victims to take legal action themselves through the civil courts.

“There are obvious reasons why some victims of stalking would not be willing to do this, not least that it may cost them personally if they do not qualify for legal aid.

“The introduction of stalking protection orders, allowing police to apply directly to the court where there is evidence of stalking, could help victims to pursue justice.

“I look forward to bringing forward my Members’ Bill and hope to achieve cross-party support for these proposals.”

Ann Moulds, founder and CEO of Action Against Stalking, added: “Stalking is a criminal matter and the police have a duty to ensure victim safety and protection from ongoing abuse at the earliest possible stage.

“This cannot be achieved under the current system. I am delighted Mairi Gougeon MSP is addressing this gap in the law and provisions for victims of stalking and fully support the introduction of a Stalking Protection Bill.”