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A new law that criminalises behavior that causes ‘serious alarm or distress’ has resulted in an increased prosecution rate for stalking and harassment, up 20% from before the law was implemented.

The increase in numbers is said to tie into the expansion of stalking offences to include online environments, which can have a substantial effect on a person’s day-to-day activities and thus comes under the scope of the law.

The Crown Prosecution Service also notes that this increased prosecution rate can be tied to more victims coming forward, enabled by the legal protection offered by the law. Victims are empowered to report harassment if the scale of the crime is clearly covered by the law, as it is in this case.

Rachel Griffin, representative of the National Stalking Helpline, notes that the next steps must be specialist training to prosecutors, to help them properly press talking charges. Furthermore, it’s noted that a problem with stalking victims is the lack of impetus to come forward, for fears of not being taken seriously.

Law applicants should explore how attitudes to crimes against persons can impact the rate of prosecutions, with more openness leading to more reporting of the crime. 

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