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Calls have been made to train police officers on the use of stalking protection orders, meaning there could be an increase in applications to the courts.
The conviction of Shayne Bradley
The conviction of former premier league footballer, Shayne Bradley, has drawn attention to the laws surrounding stalking and stalking protection orders.
Bradley, who played for Southhampton and Mansfield Town before retiring from football in 2003, was arrested for stalking his ex-girlfriend after their relationship broke down. It was said he followed the victim over a period of four months, watched her house, sent mails and made abusive phone calls. He also set up a fake dating profile to make contact.
After his arrest, he was released on bail and told not to contact the victim. However, he was found watching her from a hedge four days later. A stalking protection order was not in force, so the police decided to impose more stringent bail conditions.
The case was recently heard in Gloucester Crown Court, where the judge described him as a man “pre-disposed to intimidate women.” Bradley pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years and six months in prison. He was also handed a five-year restraining order, preventing contact with the victim.
Stalking protection orders
Had a stalking protection order been in force when Bradley breached his bail conditions, the police could have imposed further criminal charges. This could have increased his sentence, as breaching a stalking protection order carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment.
Stalking protection orders are a relatively new innovation, having only been introduced in January 2020. An application for a stalking protection order is made by the police if a person has carried out acts associated with stalking where that person poses a risk to another. They usually prevent contact with the victim and can impose an exclusion zone around their home or workplace. Such orders can be obtained by the police on an interim basis, meaning the accused can be subject to an order while they are still released under investigation.
If a full order is granted by the courts, it typically remains in place for two years. Breaching a stalking protection order is a criminal offence – whereas breaching bail conditions (as Bradley did) is not.
The use of stalking protection orders varies drastically across the country. A BBC investigation found that only two orders have been granted in Wales, despite 3,000 stalking offences being reported to the police. In Sussex, on the other hand, 30 orders have currently been imposed with more in the pipeline.
Will the police use more stalking protection orders?
The limited use of stalking protection orders has made headlines news lately. Calls have been made to train police officers with regard to stalking protection orders, meaning there could be an increase in applications to the courts. As the orders last for a minimum of two years, it is a severe restriction for an individual. That is why if you are accused of stalking in any way, you must get expert legal advice. A criminal defence solicitor can represent you throughout proceedings, working hard to maintain your freedom.
If you have been accused of stalking, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors for a free initial enquiry. We offer free police station representation and act for clients across England and Wales.
Call us on 0333 009 6275. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.