Tuesday, 27 November 2012

STALKING LAW WILL SAVE LIVES

The successful efforts of an independent inquiry, chaired by Plaid Cymru's Elfyn Llwyd MP, were rewarded on Sunday when laws making stalking a criminal offence were brought in. The UK government has introduced two offences of stalking and stalking involving a fear of violence. A parliamentary inquiry which found the previous laws on harassment and stalking were "not fit for purpose". The inquiry found that about 120,000 victims, mostly women, were stalked every year.

The inquiry, which was launched almost twelve months ago, was unprecedented in its nature due to the involvement of members of all parties, Members of the House of Commons and House of Lords, external experts, and stalking victims and their relatives. This is the first time in the history of Parliament that an independent inquiry has succeeded in implementing new legislation and Mr Llwyd hopes it will serve as a blueprint for future use in campaigns where the focus is people, not party policy.

Plaid Cymru's Elfyn Llwyd MP, who spoke ahead of a press conference marking the implementation of the laws said:

“We are very pleased that these laws will be implemented on Sunday creating two offences of stalking.

“One of these is punishable by up to six months imprisonment, the other by up to five years.

“These are of course welcome but, one of the things which gave rise to our inquiry which led to this change in the law is the fact that the Protection From Harassment Act 1997 did not concentrate on conduct amounting to stalking.

“Furthermore, we do need to ensure that there is a culture change among police officers, prosecutors, probation officers, social services, and the judiciary. These are serious offences and no longer can we tolerate palming people off by saying they are mere ‘domestics’.

“In addition to this, there will be a need to ensure that forensic psychologists are available to treat these individuals because in the vast majority of cases it is possible to get them to desist from this behaviour.

“This is vital because otherwise we are merely looking at a revolving door syndrome of going to prison, coming out, and going back in again.

“I am privileged to have led a team of dedicated parliamentarians whose hard work and commitment to this subject led to this remarkable result.

“At the end of the day the introduction of these offences will improve the lives of thousands of people each year and they will save the lives of many too.”

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