Northern Ireland news

Chief constable supports creation of new stalking offence

PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

CHIEF Constable Simon Byrne has said he fully supports new legislation to create a specific offence of stalking.

He was responding after Irish News journalist Allison Morris yesterday revealed how she was harassed by a former partner for four years.

She has called for stalking legislation to be extended to the north, describing the absence of protections available elsewhere as "immeasurably damaging".

Last week a court ruled that her abuser must serve a 14-month sentence. He will spend seven of those behind bars.

Police currently deal with stalking under the Protection from Harassment Order.

The Department of Justice held a public consultation last year on the creation of a specific offence.

Writing on Twitter, Mr Byrne said it was "brave and courageous" for Ms Morris to "make her terrible experience public".

"I fully support efforts to urgently update existing legislation to create a specific stalking offence in NI," he said.

Children's Commissioner Koulla Yiasouma also said Ms Morris's experience was a "stark and heartbreaking reminder that stalking and domestic abuse is devastating and can happen to anyone".

Justice minister Naomi Long said "bringing forward legislation that offers the best protection for victims is a priority".

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