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Victims call for stalking to be made specific offence

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Summary of story from Sky News, November 14, 2011

A lack of clarity in UK law means victims of stalking feel that they are being let down by the authorities.

Stalking is usually prosecuted under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (PfHA), but at the moment there is no law aimed specifically at stalking.

An estimated 120,000 people, mainly women, are victims of stalking each year.  However, only 53,000 cases are recorded and only one in 50 ends in a prison sentence.

The Government is still deciding whether to make stalking a specific criminal offence, but if it does, it is likely that a new law will include online harassment, or cyber-stalking.

The charity Protection Against Stalking (PAS) has conducted a survey into the way in which cases are dealt with.  Two thirds of women who contacted the police were not satisfied with the way they were treated.

PAS also found that over fifty per cent of victims had been stalked for over 18 months with 40 per cent for over two years.

Since stalking became a specific offence in Scotland in 2010, prosecutions there have risen eight-fold.

In March 2011 the British government published an action plan aimed at tackling violence against women and girls, but has yet to comment on any review of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

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