To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has to issue revised sentencing guidelines in respect of new offences under sections 2A and 4A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
The new stalking offences introduced by this Government are designed to address specific stalking behaviour as opposed to harassment more generally. The new offence under section 4A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 covers a course of conduct which causes serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on the day-to-day activities of the victim. This recognises the overall emotional and psychological harm that stalking may cause to victims, even where there is no explicit fear of violence. The maximum penalty for the section 2A offence is six months' imprisonment and for the section 4A offence the maximum penalty is five years' imprisonment.
The independent Sentencing Council is responsible for producing sentencing guidelines and it will be for the Council to consider the issue of new or revised guidelines covering these offences.