Two specific criminal offences of stalking have come into force in England and Wales for the first time.
The government has introduced two new offences, stalking and stalking involving a fear of violence.
A charge of stalking will carry a maximum sentence of six months or a £5,000 fine.
Where there is a fear of violence, the jail term is up to five years or an unlimited fine.
Detective Inspector Hayley Barnett who works in the Public Protection Unit for Derbyshire Constabulary said: “The new stalking offence compliments the existing protection from harassment legislation. Stalking is defined as ‘a pattern of repeated, unwanted behaviour that causes a person to feel distressed or scared. It can be perpetrated by men or women.’
“As a force we welcome the new offences, hopefully they will help in sending out a clear message that stalking is a serious crime. Stalking is life changing, it impacts upon victim’s physical and emotional wellbeing and the effects can be long term.
“There is now a confidential National Stalking Helpline. The number for this free phone service is 0808 802 0300.”
If you feel you have been a victim of stalking or know someone that is suffering contact Derbyshire police using the non-emergency number 101.