Stalkers could be barred from targeting their victims on Facebook and other social networking sites in a crackdown on harassment, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said today.
Prosecutors should issue restraining orders that "meet the particular risks presented in each case" and there "should not be a repetition of routine clauses", the new CPS guidance said.
Restrictions could include orders "not to display any material relating to the victim on social networking sites including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter".
Nazir Afzal, the CPS community liaison director responsible for stalking and harassment crimes, said: "Stalking is pernicious and can affect anyone regardless of their walk of life.
"It has a devastating impact on the lives of those who become victims."
He said the guidance "gives prosecutors a better understanding of what stalking is".
"It provides them with a framework to build stronger cases and to apply for more effective restraining orders," he said.
"Prosecutors must now look at the bigger picture when dealing with these cases because we know that treating incidents of stalking as isolated belies the full impact on the victim and the criminal behaviour of the perpetrator.
"What we now understand more fully is that victims of stalking, just like victims of domestic violence, continue to live in fear of their stalkers despite the fact that they may have been prosecuted and imprisoned or subject to other sanctions."
Mr Afzal added: "We know that we should have done better at this in the past.
"We need those affected by this crime to know that we have listened carefully to concerns raised by victims and stalking support groups, and we recognise how serious and how distressing this behaviour can be.
"Our stalking and harassment guidance will go some way to reassuring victims that the CPS will prosecute these cases robustly."
Alexis Bowater, chief executive for the Network for Surviving Stalking, described the guidance as a "comprehensive response to a real need".
"We hope the inclusion of cyber-stalking for the first time will encourage everyone involved to take this crime more seriously," she said.
Assistant chief constable Garry Shewan, the lead for stalking and harassment for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said: "The introduction of this guidance is a positive step forward in the prosecution of those responsible for stalking.
"Not only will it help bring offenders to justice, but it will also help to recognise the importance of quality support and communication with the victims whose lives are so negatively impacted by this terrible crime."Reuse content