SNP MSP Rona Mackay will take forward a Members’ Bill to create a new form of protection order in cases of stalking – making it easier for victims to access justice.
The Stalking Protection Bill had initially been proposed by Mairi Gougeon, who was subsequently appointed as a Scottish Government Minister.
Victims of stalking can currently apply to a civil court for a non-harassment order, the breach of which is a criminal offence.
The proposed bill would create stalking protection orders, which would allow police to apply to court for a protection order on behalf of a victim of stalking.
The new class of protection order would mean that victims would not have to take legal action through the courts themselves at a time when they may be particularly vulnerable, and which may be at their own expense if they do not qualify for legal aid.
Commenting, Rona Mackay said:
“This is an important piece of legislation that could make a real difference to victims of stalking.
“Stalking can have a severe and long-lasting impact on victims, yet the reporting rate for stalking and harassment is low compared to other crimes.
“Victims of harassment can currently apply to courts for a non-harassment order – but when somebody is in the vulnerable position of being stalked they may be hesitant about pursuing this, particularly if it comes at their own expense.
“Stalking protection orders would allow police to apply directly to the court on a victims behalf, removing obstacles from accessing justice.
“I look forward to developing these proposals and hope to achieve cross-party support.”