Stalking Protection Orders
What is a Stalking Protection Order?
In England and Wales, the Office of National Statistics estimated there were 1.5 million cases of stalking in 2020 .
Stalking Protection Orders (SPO) are intended to protect any person of any age experiencing stalking but they are not an alternative to prosecution. They allow:
- early police intervention
- to address stalking behaviours before they become entrenched or escalate in severity, and
- to protect victims from more serious harm
These orders are an effective means of managing an alleged suspect through the use of prohibitions and/or positive requirements as well as imposing notification requirements on the suspect.
The criminal threshold must be met for a full SPO to be made. However, the test to be applied for an interim SPO is lower and can be granted "if the court considers it appropriate to do so".
Who can apply for an SPO?
An SPO application can only be made by the police. The police should consider applying for an order where it appears that:
- the suspect has carried out acts associated with stalking
- the suspect poses a risk of stalking someone
- there is reasonable cause to believe the proposed order
This is why Victims of Stalking should collect evidence and keep all records for police. Find our tips for victims and evidence gathering here .
How long does an SPO last?
An SPO lasts for a fixed period (of at least two years from the date of the order) will be specified in the order or until a further order is made. Different time periods may be specified in relation to different prohibitions or requirements.
What if the order is breached?
A person who breaches and SPO or an interim SPO without reasonable excuse commits a criminal offence.
The police will investigate a breach of the order as the victim may not be aware of the full extent of the breach and/or the stalking.
An application for an SPO may itself also be a trigger for escalation by the stalker.