Assembly members from all sides of the house backed the DUP motion calling for new stalking measures on Monday 12 September, which is significant progress following our campaign. Paul Frew DUP MLA and Chairman of the Justice Committee in The Assembly spoke about the need for new legislation to tackle stalking in Northern Ireland.
He highlighted the devastating psychological effects of stalking, that too often people joke about stalking and the need to educate people about the seriousness of the crime. He said:
“This has been described to be as ‘Murder in Slow Motion’ whereby in some extreme cases someone steals a life, then takes a life’.
Brenda Hale MLA shared her own terrifying experience of stalking and called for tough new legislation to tackle stalkers and new protective orders, which Paladin NSAS have been campaigning for in England and Wales. More here http://paladinservice.co.uk/paladin-response-to-the-home-office-consultation-on-new-orders-for-stalkers/ to ensure victims are protected and perpetrators are prosecuted.
Claire Bailey MLA, the Green Party NI deputy leader for South Belfast, told The Assembly that a stalker stuck razor blades in her car tyres causing them to blow out on the school run. She reported it to the police who asked ‘What do you want us to do about it? She couldn’t answer their question but didn’t report any further incidences.
Responding to the debate Justice Minister Claire Sugden said she was minded to consider fresh legislation:
“As Justice Minister, I am keen to ensure that the criminal law in Northern Ireland is fit for purpose and that we learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions, where such laws can make a difference for the better,” she said.
“I have already asked my officials to review the existing laws on stalking here and elsewhere and to report to me on the need for the introduction of additional legislation to safeguard victims of stalking in this jurisdiction.”
This is a significant step forward for victims of stalking in Northern Ireland who were finally given a voice on Monday. We need to ensure that the momentum continues so that they are better protected in the future.