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Weightmans sees 66% rise in stalking protection orders since lockdown began

The firm’s dedicated team has been working with police forces across the UK to apply for SPOs under the Stalking Protection Act.

National law firm Weightmans has seen a sharp rise in police applications for stalking protection orders (SPOs) since their introduction in January 2020.

The firm was the first in the country to secure an SPO for Sussex Police on 20 January 2020. Since then, they have seen a marked increase in demand for the work, with a spike of 66% from March onwards. This spike has been maintained throughout the following months, with the courts making provision to hear these important cases during the lockdown.

SPOs equip police with valuable powers to better protect victims or anyone connected with them in stalking cases. For those affected by stalking, current isolation as a result of COVID-19 has meant that some have seen an increase in stalking online - Paladin, a national stalking advocacy service, and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which runs the stalking helpline, reported a surge in cyberstalking in the first four weeks of the lockdown. As restrictions ease, national domestic abuse charities are warning there could be a further spike in demand for their services as people are able to leave their homes to seek help.

Weightmans Associate Louise Ravenscroft leads the team of experts who are working with police forces to secure these orders and keep people safe.

Louise said:

“One in six women and one in twelve men will experience stalking in their lives. Stalking causes undoubtable stress on the victim and their families – leaving long term, often irreversible damage. We have seen the police forces we work with become increasingly vigilant about ensuring these cases are dealt with swiftly and before they escalate. SPOs are another tool for them to use to keep their communities safe and we are already seeing them prove to be an effective and early method of intervention.

“Since March we have seen a clear rise in applications for SPOs, which we believe may be down to the lockdown measures. My concern is that we are likely to see a further spike, with an increase in physical stalking crimes reported in the months that follow, and we urge police forces to get in touch should they need support in managing this – these orders can be applied for as soon as a report is received.

“No one should feel scared, intimidated or at risk in their own home, workplace or anywhere else. We hope that these applications continue to allow forces to take decisive action against those who stalk and harass to stop them in their tracks.”

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