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Protection from Stalking Act (Northern Ireland) 2022

Sections 1 to 5 - Offences

Section 1 - Offence of stalking

Subsection (1) creates the offence of stalking where a person (A) engages in a course of conduct that causes another person (B) to suffer fear, alarm or substantial distress or is such that a reasonable person, or a reasonable person who has any particular knowledge of B that A has, would consider to be likely to cause them to suffer fear, alarm or substantial distress.

Subsection (2) provides that the offence is subject to at least one of the two further conditions being met.

That (i) A either intended the conduct to cause fear, alarm or substantial distress, or (ii) ought in the circumstances to have known that the conduct would have that effect.

Subsection (3) provides that a course of conduct can constitute the offence of stalking if it consists of or includes conduct occurring outside the United Kingdom.

The course of conduct could constitute the stalking offence as if it occurred in Northern Ireland and the accused would need to be a UK national or habitually resident in Northern Ireland.

Subsection (4) defines the meaning of conduct as:

  • following B or any other person,

  • contacting, or attempting to contact, B or any other person by any means,

  • publishing any statement or other material relating or purporting to relate to B or to any other person, or purporting to originate from B or from any other person,

  • monitoring the use by B or by any other person of the internet, email or

  • any other form of electronic communication,

  • entering any premises,

  • loitering in any place (whether public or private),

  • interfering with any property in the possession of B or of any other person,

  • giving anything to B or to any other person or leaving anything where it may be found by, given to or brought to the attention of B or any other person,

  • watching or spying on B or any other person, or

  • acting in any other way that a reasonable person, or a reasonable person who has any particular knowledge of B that A has, would expect would cause B to suffer fear, alarm or substantial distress;

A “course of conduct” is defined as involving conduct on two or more occasions; and “substantial distress” means distress that has a substantial adverse effect on B’s day to day activities.

Subsection (5) provides for a defence for a person charged with the stalking offence.

Subsection (6) provides the penalty for the offence of stalking.  The maximum penalty on summary conviction (heard in a magistrates’ court) is 12 months imprisonment or a fine up to the statutory maximum (that is £5,000) or both.  The maximum penalty on conviction on indictment (heard in a crown court) is 10 years imprisonment or a fine, or both.

Subsection (7) provides an alternative conviction of threatening or abusive behaviour where, when the facts do not amount to the offence of stalking in proceedings, a person may be convicted of the alternative offence that can be made out after a single incident or a course of conduct.

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Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


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