The Stalking Protection Act 2019, which came into force in March 2019, is designed to tackle ‘stranger stalking’ (statistics says that the majority of stalking offences – whether the abuse is directed against women or men – take place in a domestic setting, however, it is believed that approximately 27% of stalking cases are committed by strangers).
The Act introduces the concept of Stalking Protection Orders (SPO’s) which allows the police to apply for an order to prevent the stalker from continuing to abuse their victim (before any criminal prosecution takes place).
A SPO can order the stalker to refrain from doing certain things – like visiting the victim’s place of work – or require them to take certain actions. A breach of an SPO can be a criminal offence carrying a prison sentence of up to 5 years.
If you have an employee who is a victim of stalking, Employers should offer support as it is your duty to ensure the health, safety and welfare of your employees. If an Employee tells you they need protection for a stalker who is under an SPO, the Employer would be entitled to inform the people responsible for security at the work-place, that the stalker should not be allowed to enter the building. Privacy and confidentiality issues need to be considered here though.
There is, however, no requirement under the Act for an employee who is subject to an SPO to tell their Employer (but read the further details below).
It will become a challenge for Employers where the victim and the stalker both work for the same Employer – and steps will need to be taken to ensure they do not work together or have contact with each other. In such cases the Employer may want to follow their own harassment policy. You can read further details here.
If you have any questions then let us know!