What is stalking?

Stalking is a pattern of fixated and obsessive behaviour which is repeated, persistent, intrusive and causes fear of violence or alarm or distress in the victim.

Stalking involves behaviours towards a person that makes them feel unsafe. The behaviour may be direct or indirect and a stalker may know their victim intimately, as in a partner or former partner, or barely at all.

The Protection from Stalking Act (NI) 2022 became law on the 26th April 2022.

It creates a new specific offence of stalking, capturing conduct and acts associated with stalking behaviour, and will be better focused on recognising the fixated, obsessive, unwanted and repeated nature of stalking behaviours and the particular risks associated with stalking.

The new offence will apply to two or more occasions that cause a person to suffer fear, alarm or substantial distress.

A new offence of threatening or abusive behaviour is also created which can be triggered by a single incident.

The new stalking offence carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. A conviction for Threatening or Abusive behaviour carries a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison.

In addition, the Act provides for the introduction of Stalking Protection Orders. Such an order is applied for by Police and can prohibit a person from carrying out acts associated with stalking. A Stalking Protection Order can also impose requirements such as attending a perpetrator intervention programme. 

There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ stalking victim. This crime disproportionately affects women and girls, however it is important to recognise that men and boys may also be victims. Stalking victims come from a wide range of backgrounds. Stalking can happen to anyone regardless of race, culture, gender, identity, age or sexual orientation.

While some victims are stalked by strangers, most stalking is committed by someone known to the victim such as an ex-partner, family member or acquaintance.

Victims of Stalking are eligible for Special Measures to give their evidence at court. More information can be found by clicking the link, and in the pages below.

Further reading

For more information, please see the following pages: