New laws on stalking ‘are half-hearted and fail to protect victims’

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David Cameron’s plans to bring in a new law of stalking will leave the police needing to prove a fear of violence and will not solve the problems with the current system, Labour has said.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said the plans risked being “half-hearted and over-complicated” and would not give victims the protection they needed.

Her criticism came after the Prime Minister told victims at a Downing Street reception to mark International Women’s Day that the Government was determined to ensure “justice is done”.

But Labour said bringing in two new offences in England and Wales – stalking, and stalking where there is a fear of violence – would leave police and prosecutors with the same problems.

Proving a fear of violence “has been very hard to make work in practice and has meant too many serious cases fell through the net”, Ms Cooper said.

“Under the Government’s proposals there is a serious risk that low sentencing will continue and many persistent stalkers could still be out of prison within weeks free to continue their behaviour.”

She called for a system based on the Scottish model instead, saying the Government should back a Labour amendment to the Protection of Freedoms Bill on the issue in the House of Lords on Monday.

But Mr Cameron said the Government was explicitly criminalising stalking, which he said “makes life a living hell for victims”, to “show beyond doubt that stalking is a crime”.

Police will also be given new powers of entry to investigate stalking offences, the Home Office said.

The calls for reform came amid a series of high-profile cases involving stalkers Clifford Mills, 49, who stalked his ex-girlfriend Lorna Smith on Facebook before stabbing her to death was jailed for life with a minimum term of 21 years after being found guilty of murder last month.

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