Victim's Support

Laws and Legislation

Ann Moulds, founder and CEO of AAS, launched her award-winning Campaign Action Scotland Against Stalking in 2009 with the overall aim of having stalking recognised as a specific criminal offence within Scottish law and to give the victim an identity and a voice within the Criminal Justice Process. The result is the 'Offence of Stalking' Sec 39 Criminal Justice & Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010.

Following on from Scotland’s success, England & Wales decided to review their existing legislation. In 2012,  the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 amended the 1997 Act and created two new offences of stalking:
• _Stalking (section 2A) which is pursuing a course of conduct which amounts to harassment and which also amounts to stalking
• _Stalking (section 4A) involving fear or violence or serious alarm or distress

Please click the appropriate link to view the legislation relevant to where you live.

Scotland     England / Wales

Section 39 - Offence of Stalking

Offence of Stalking Sec 39 Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 (www.legislation.gov.uk)

  1. A person ("A") commits an offence, to be known as the offence of stalking, where A stalks another person ("B").
  2. For the purposes of subsection (1), A stalks B where—
    1. A engages in a course of conduct,
    2. subsection (3) or (4) applies, and
    3. A's course of conduct causes B to suffer fear or alarm.
  3. This subsection applies where A engages in the course of conduct with the intention of causing B to suffer fear or alarm.
  4. This subsection applies where A knows, or ought in all the circumstances to have known, that engaging in the course of conduct would be likely to cause B to suffer fear or alarm.
  5. It is a defence for a person charged with an offence under this section to show that the course of conduct—
    1. was authorised by virtue of any enactment or rule of law,
    2. was engaged in for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime, or
    3. was, in the particular circumstances, reasonable.
  6. In this section—

    "conduct" means—
    1. following B or any other person,
    2. contacting, or attempting to contact, B or any other person by any means,
    3. publishing any statement or other material -
      1. relating or purporting to relate to B or to any other person,
      2. purporting to originate from B or from any other person,
    4. monitoring the use by B or by any other person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,
    5. entering any premises,
    6. loitering in any place (whether public or private),
    7. interfering with any property in the possession of B or of any other person,
    8. giving anything to B or to any other person or leaving anything where it may be found by, given to or brought to the attention of B or any other person,
    9. watching or spying on B or any other person,
    10. acting in any other way that a reasonable person would expect would cause B to suffer fear or alarm, and

      "course of conduct" involves conduct on at least two occasions.
  7. A person convicted of the offence of stalking is liable—
    1. on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or to a fine, or to both,
    2. on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or to a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or to both.
  8. Subsection (9) applies where, in the trial of a person ("the accused") charged with the offence of stalking, the jury or, in summary proceedings, the court—
    1. is not satisfied that the accused committed the offence, but
    2. is satisfied that the accused committed an offence under section 38(1).
  9. The jury or, as the case may be, the court may acquit the accused of the charge and, instead, find the accused guilty of an offence under section 38(1).

1997 Harassment Act and the Offence of Stalking

Offences in relation to stalking

(1) After section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (offence of harassment) insert— "2A Offence of stalking

  1. A person is guilty of an offence if—
    1. the person pursues a course of conduct in breach of section 1(1), and
    2. the course of conduct amounts to stalking.
  2. For the purposes of subsection (1)(b) (and section 4A(1)(a)) a person’s course of conduct amounts to stalking of another person if—
    1. it amounts to harassment of that person,
    2. the acts or omissions involved are ones associated with stalking, and
    3. the person whose course of conduct it is knows or ought to know that the course of conduct amounts to harassment of the other person.
  3. The following are examples of acts or omissions which, in particular circumstances, are ones associated with stalking—
    1. following a person,
    2. contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means,
    3. publishing any statement or other material—
      1. relating or purporting to relate to a person, or
      2. purporting to originate from a person,
    4. monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,
    5. loitering in any place (whether public or private),
    6. interfering with any property in the possession of a person,
    7. watching or spying on a person.
  4. A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks, or a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or both.
  5. In relation to an offence committed before the commencement of section 281(5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the reference in subsection (4) to 51 weeks is to be read as a reference to six months.
  6. This section is without prejudice to the generality of section 2."

(2) After section 4 of that Act (putting people in fear of violence) insert—
"4A Stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress

  1. A person ("A") whose course of conduct—
    1. amounts to stalking, and
    2. either—
      1. causes another ("B") to fear, on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against B, or
      2. causes B serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on B's usual day-to-day activities,

        is guilty of an offence if A knows or ought to know that A's course of conduct will cause B so to fear on each of those occasions or (as the case may be) will cause such alarm or distress.
  2. For the purposes of this section A ought to know that A's course of conduct will cause B to fear that violence will be used against B on any occasion if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct would cause B so to fear on that occasion.
  3. For the purposes of this section A ought to know that A's course of conduct will cause B serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on B's usual day-to-day activities if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct would cause B such alarm or distress.
  4. It is a defence for A to show that—
    1. A's course of conduct was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime,
    2. A's course of conduct was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment, or
    3. the pursuit of A's course of conduct was reasonable for the protection of A or another or for the protection of A's or another’s property.
  5. A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—
    1. on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or a fine, or both, or
    2. on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum, or both.
  6. In relation to an offence committed before the commencement of section 154(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, the reference in subsection (5)(b) to twelve months is to be read as a reference to six months.
  7. If on the trial on indictment of a person charged with an offence under this section the jury find the person not guilty of the offence charged, they may find the person guilty of an offence under section 2 or 2A.
  8. The Crown Court has the same powers and duties in relation to a person who is by virtue of subsection (7) convicted before it of an offence under section 2 or 2A as a magistrates' court would have on convicting the person of the offence.
  9. This section is without prejudice to the generality of section 4."