The UK government has recently announced new measures aimed at strengthening protections for stalking victims. These changes are designed to make it easier for police to apply for Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) and safeguard victims at an earlier stage.  Are these measures effective and feasible in practice?

The Problem of Stalking

Stalking is a complex and severe form of abuse that can have devastating consequences for victims and their families. In the most tragic cases, stalking can even lead to loss of life. Despite increased efforts to combat this crime, stalking remains a pervasive issue that demands urgent attention and action from law enforcement and policymakers alike.

Background on Stalking Protection Orders

SPOs were first introduced in January 2020 to address perpetrators’ behaviours before they become entrenched or escalate in severity. Under these orders, stalkers can face restrictions such as having to notify the police of their whereabouts or travel plans. Breaching an SPO can result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years.

Lowering the Burden of Proof

One of the key changes announced by the government is lowering the standard of proof required for police to apply for an SPO. Previously, officers had to meet the high criminal standard of proof threshold. Under the updated guidance, evidence meeting the lower civil standard will likely be accepted by courts when granting an SPO. This change aims to make it easier for victims to access protection when they need it most.

Challenges in Implementation

While the intention behind these measures is commendable, it is essential to consider the challenges faced in implementing them effectively. Some potential obstacles include:

  • Increasing awareness and understanding of SPOs
  • Ensuring consistent application of the new guidelines
  • Managing the potential increase in SPO applications with existing resources
  • Providing adequate training and support for staff handling stalking cases


The Potential Impact on the Criminal Justice System

To successfully implement these enhanced stalking protections, agencies may need to consider the following actions:

  • Conducting comprehensive training on recognising stalking patterns and assessing risk
  • Raising awareness of SPOs and the new guidelines among all staff
  • Allocating sufficient resources to manage the expected increase in SPO applications
  • Collaborating closely with other agencies and charities to improve outcomes for victims
  • Monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of these measures over time


The government’s announcement of enhanced stalking protections is a significant step towards improving the safety and well-being of victims. However, the success of these measures will depend largely on how effectively police can implement them in practice.

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