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12 November 2018, 11:17
New legislation to help protect victims of stalking will be brought forward at the Scottish Parliament this week.
The Stalking Protection Bill would make it easier for people to access justice.
Currently, victims of stalking can apply to a civil court for a non-harassment order, the breach of which is a criminal offence.
The new proposals would create stalking protection orders, allowing police to apply to court for a protection order on behalf of a victim of stalking.
It will be brought forward by SNP MSP Rona Mackay, having initially been proposed by colleague Mairi Gougeon.
The new class of protection order would mean victims would not have to take legal action through the courts - 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.
Rona Mackay MSP 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."