88 arrests made in Northern Ireland in first year of new stalking legislation

88 arrests made in Northern Ireland in first year of new stalking legislation

MORE than 80 people have been arrested under new stalking legislation a year since it became law in Northern Ireland.

The new law, which was introduced in the North in April 2022, criminalised stalking for the first time.

Since then the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has arrested 88 alleged stalkers and charged 47 of them, they confirmed this week.

“April 24 marks the beginning of National Stalking Awareness Week and the one year anniversary of stalking legislation going live across Northern Ireland,” the PSNI confirmed.

“Throughout this week Police will be working with partners to raise awareness of this crime type and encourage more victims to come forward,” they add.

Detective Superintendent Lindsay Fisher, from the Service’s Public Protection Branch, urged the public to be vigilant on the matter.

“We are asking the public to not ignore the red flags,” she said.

“If someone’s behaviour towards you is fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated, this is stalking.”

She added: “I think many people when they hear the word ‘stalking’ will think of someone lurking in the shadows.

“Stalking can actually take many forms and can be online as well as in person and could be someone known to you or a complete stranger.

“It is an insidious crime that takes over and destroys lives. Statistics show that people will suffer up to 100 incidents before reporting to Police.

"It often results in fear, trauma and a reduction in the victim’s quality of life, in some tragic cases it has resulted in murder.”

Det Supt Fisher wants the public to understand that stalking "is a crime" - and one that the PSNI will "use every tool" to investigate.

“We don’t want victims to suffer in silence," she said.

"Stalking is a crime, which will not be tolerated or accepted within our communities.

"Over 4,500 officers and staff have now been trained to recognise and respond to these crimes and we will continue to use every tool at our disposal to bring offenders to justice.”