Scots anti-stalking legislation hailed as model for Ireland

Margaret Martin

Ireland should look to Scotland to help inform its legislative approach to stalking, a major conference in Dublin was told yesterday.

Scottish campaigner Ann Moulds told delegates at a national conference hosted by Women’s Aid that Scotland’s anti-stalking legislation, introduced in late 2010, is “probably … one of the most powerful pieces of legislation out there”.

Section 39 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Act 2010 made stalking a criminal offence for the first time from 13 December 2010. There is no specific stalking offence in Irish law.

Following the introduction of the Scottish law, police officers across the country were given special training on dealing with stalking crime.

Ms Moulds called on the government of Ireland to introduce legislation that would give similar protection to Irish victims of stalking – including online stalking and harassment.

Women’s Aid last month launched a “manifesto on domestic violence” in advance of next year’s general election in Ireland, which includes calls for legislative action on stalking, both “traditional and online”.

It recommends the creation of a specific stalking offence, which would also apply to online stalking.

Margaret Martin, director of Women’s Aid, said at the time: “Women are often controlled, followed, harassed and stalked by their abusers both during the relationship and after separation which includes traditional methods of stalking as well as the use of electronic technologies including threatening texts, phone calls, emails, and use of spyware.

“Women’s Aid recommends that a specific stalking offence be introduced in Irish law, with a comprehensive but not exhaustive definition, including new forms of cyber-stalking, as well as recognition of stalking as grounds for a safety order.”

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