Stalking Protection Order

The Stalking Protection Order Act 2019 introduced the Stalking Protection Order (SPO) on 15 March 2019.

An SPO is a civil order which is applied for at the Magistrates’ Court by the police. Both an interim or full order can be made in circumstances where the threshold to commence criminal proceedings for the commission of an offence has not yet or may not ever be met. It can also be used in cases where the suspect has been charged although should not be used as an alternative to a prosecution. Regardless of the circumstances in which the order is applied for, the following elements must be met for an order to be granted:

  1. The defendant has carried out acts associated with stalking;
  2. The defendant poses a risk associated with stalking to another person; and
  3. There is reasonable cause to believe the proposed order is necessary to protect another person from such a risk (whether or not the person was the victim of the acts as set out above)

Stalking Protection Orders can include prohibitions to limit contact with named individuals or from attending certain locations. SPO’s can also prohibit individuals from using devices capable of accessing the internet or making vexatious applications to civil courts referring to the victims. The order can also require individuals to undertake requirements such as mental health assessments or attend a drugs and alcohol programme.

It is important to challenge an order as well as any conditions attached to it, at both the interim hearing stage and any substantive hearing. This is due to the fact that any breach of either a full or interim order, without reasonable excuse, is an offence which carries a maximum sentence of up to 5 years imprisonment.

We offer a comprehensive approach to defending and challenging SPOs, by thoroughly assessing an individual’s situation, examining the application for the SPO and any supporting evidence as well as reviewing any parallel criminal investigation and identifying any interplay there may be between this investigation and the application for an SPO.

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