Ronnie Campbell – 2014 Parliamentary Question to the Ministry of Justice

The below Parliamentary question was asked by Ronnie Campbell on 2014-05-02.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, how many people in Northumberland received prison sentences for harassment or stalking in the last two years.

Jeremy Wright

A comprehensive framework of civil remedies and criminal offences is available to deal with stalking and harassment. This framework was strengthened by this Government by amendments to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 made by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which introduced new stalking offences. These offences are designed to address specific stalking behaviour as opposed to harassment more generally. The new offence under section 4A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 covers a course of conduct which causes serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on the day-to-day activities of the victim. This recognises the overall emotional and psychological harm that stalking may cause to victims, even where there is no explicit fear of violence. The maximum penalty for the section 2A offence is six months’ imprisonment and for the section 4A offence the maximum penalty is five years’ imprisonment.

The Ministry of Justice Court Proceedings Database holds information on defendants sentenced for criminal offences by Police Force Area in England and Wales. The number of offenders sentenced to immediate custody for offences related to harassment and stalking (relating solely to racially or religiously aggravated stalking with or without fear of violence under Section 32 (1) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998) in the Northumbria Police Force Area from 2008 to 2012 can be viewed in the table. The Northumbria Police Force Area covers Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Sunderland and Northumberland.It has not been possible to separately identify those offenders in the county of Northumberland.

There were new triable-either-way offences for stalking introduced by Sections 4A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as inserted by Section 111 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, which commenced on 25th November 2012. Between this point and the end of December 2012, there were no defendants proceeded against in England and Wales under this.