Protection of Freedoms Bill
TO BE MOVED
ON THIRD READING
Before Clause 64
BARONESS ROYALL OF BLAISDON
Insert the following new Clause—
“Regulation on Protection from Stalking
(1) The Secretary of State shall through regulation ensure that the court, when requesting a presentence report in relation to an individual charged with an offence of stalking or an offence of harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act (1997) must ask for a social history on the offender from the Probation or other relevant service.
(2) The Secretary of State shall on an annual basis, lay before both Houses of Parliament a report on the implementation of an offence of stalking, to include (inter alia)—
(a) information on the effect of the introduction of the offence on victims of stalking and harassment,
(b) information on the training of professionals within the criminal justice system in the implementation and use of the offence of stalking.”
Insert the following new Clause—
“Protection from Stalking
(1) The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 is amended as follows.
(2) In section 2 (offence of harassment) of that Act, for subsection (2) substitute—
“(2) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary or indictable conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum.”
(3) For section 4 (putting people in fear of violence) substitute—
“4 Offence of Stalking
(1) A person (“A”) commits an offence, to be known as the offence of stalking, where A stalks another person (“B”).
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), A stalks B where—
(a) A engages in a course of conduct,
(b) subsection (3) or (4) applies, and
(c) A’s course of conduct causes B to suffer fear, alarm, distress or anxiety.
(3) This subsection applies where A engages in the course of conduct with the intention of causing B to suffer fear, alarm, distress or anxiety.
(4) This subsection applies where A knows, or ought in all the circumstances to have known, that engaging in the course of conduct would be likely to cause B to suffer fear, alarm, distress or anxiety.
(5) It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to show that the course of conduct—
(a) was authorised by virtue of any enactment or rule of law,
(b) was engaged in for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime, or
(c) was, in the particular circumstances, reasonable.
(6) In this section—
“conduct” means (inter alia)—
(a) following B or any other person,
(b) contacting, or attempting to contact, B or any other person by any means,
(c) publishing any statement or other material—
(i) relating or purporting to relate to B or to any other person,
(ii) purporting to originate from B or from any other person,
(d) monitoring the use by B or by any other person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic or other communication, or making improper use of public electronic communications networks or leaving messages of a menacing character,
(e) entering any premises,
(f) loitering in any place (whether public or private),
(g) interfering with any property in the possession of B or of any other person,
(h) giving anything to B or to any other person or leaving anything where it may be found by, given to or brought to the attention of B or any other person,
(i) watching or spying on B or any other person,
(j) acting in any other way that a reasonable person would expect would cause B to suffer fear or alarm, and
“course of conduct” involves conduct on at least two occasions.
(7) For the purposes of this section, a person makes improper use of an electronic communications network of electronic communications service or other social media if—
(a) the effect or likely effect of use of the network or service by A is to cause B, another person, unnecessarily to suffer annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety, or
(b) A uses the network or service to engage in conduct, the effect or likely effect of which is to cause B, another person, unnecessarily to suffer annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety.
(8) The Secretary of State may by regulation add further forms of conduct to subsection (6)(b).
(9) A person convicted of the offence of stalking is liable—
(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or to a fine, or to both,
(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or to both.
(10) Subsection (9) applies where, in the trial of a person (“the accused”) charged with the offence of stalking, the jury or, in summary proceedings, the court—
(a) is not satisfied that the accused committed the offence, but
(b) is satisfied that the accused committed an offence under section 2.
(11) The jury or, as the case may be, the court may acquit the accused of the charge and, instead, find the accused guilty of an offence under section 2.””