Interpretation

Part of Stalking Protection Bill – in the House of Commons at 11:51 am on 23rd November 2018.

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Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women 11:51 am, 23rd November 2018

I do not know quite how to respond to that, so I shall move on quickly.

The 2017-18 performance data indicated that joint police and CPS work to take forward more prosecutions for stalking rather than harassment, when that is the right course, had a positive impact. I listened carefully to the observations of my hon. Friend Chris Philp, who quite rightly made the point that stalking protection orders are in addition to the ability to prosecute, not instead of it. He asked about putting a definition of stalking into the Bill or the underlying 1997 Act. As he rightly said, there is a checklist of behaviours in that Act, but we are conscious that types of stalking behaviour can change. Indeed, in 1997, when that Act was passed, cyber-stalking was unheard of—it simply did not happen. Sadly, time has shown that nowadays it can and does happen. I hope that the list of examples helps not only my hon. Friend but practitioners on the ground to understand what can fall into the category of stalking behaviour.

I acknowledge the observations of my hon. Friends the Members for Ochil and South Perthshire (Luke Graham) and for Torbay (Kevin Foster), who both referred to the breadth of practices in stalking behaviour. Indeed, my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay mentioned specifically conduct against people’s political and religious beliefs, which was of course a very valid point.

At this point, may I also thank Luciana Berger, who is no longer in the Chamber? I look forward to joining her on Monday in this place for a day of commemoration and solidarity against those who continue to behave disgracefully towards Jewish people and to give support to the Jewish community.