The Department of Justice has today launched a public consultation seeking views on measures to address stalking in Northern Ireland.
The ‘Stalking - A Serious Concern’ consultation focuses on the impact of stalking on victims and the wider community and asks whether the introduction of a specific offence of stalking in Northern Ireland could offer victims better protection.
The Department of Justice’s Permanent Secretary, Peter May, said: “Stalking can have a devastating effect on victims. The impact of stalking can be life-changing and can lead to loss of life. To disrupt such behaviour and to shield its victims we must ensure that the law provides the best possible protection for those affected.
“We are seeking views from the public and from organisations and groups with an interest in preventing stalking. We would particularly like to hear from individuals who have been directly affected by stalking, and to hear about experiences in seeking help and support from the criminal justice system.”
The consultation paper has been developed in collaboration with victims groups and partner organisations who formed a ‘Stalking Reference Group’. The Group worked with the Department to identify best practice models to address the wider issues associated with stalking and to ensure that the criminal justice system is as effective as possible in tackling stalking behaviour.
The Department also liaised with its counterparts in England and Wales, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland to build a picture of the differing policy and legislation approaches being used to tackle stalking.
The Department are planning to hold public engagement events in January 2019.
The consultation will close on 21 February 2019.