Northern Ireland news

Stalking legislation to be introduced in Northern Ireland before the end of the year

Justice Minister Naomi Long has announced that legislation to make stalking a specific offence in Northern Ireland for the first time is to be introduced before the end of this year. Picture by Mal McCann
Marie Louise McConville

The Justice Minister has announced that legislation to make stalking a specific offence in Northern Ireland for the first time is to be introduced before the end of this year.

Naomi Long confirmed the news yesterday.

Currently, the PSNI deals with stalking under the Protection from Harassment Order (NI) 1997.

Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK that does not have specific anti-stalking laws.

In a letter to Alliance assembly member Kellie Armstrong, the Minister said a Protection from Stalking Bill is due to be introduced to the assembly in November or December, adding that the drafting of the legislation by her officials was at an "advanced stage".

A public consultation on proposed legislation to tackle stalking was carried out last year, and found the majority of respondents strongly supported its introduction.

There is no time frame yet as to how long it could take the bill to pass through all assembly stages before becoming law.

Kelly Andrews, of Belfast and Lisburn Women's Aid, welcomed the progress, adding that legislation is "vitally important to safeguard and protect victims and survivors of domestic violence".

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