Register of serial stalkers proposed

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The Independent Online

Convicted stalkers could be forced to sign a register of offenders in a system similar to the one that keeps track of sex attackers, the Home Office said yesterday.

Convicted stalkers could be forced to sign a register of offenders in a system similar to the one that keeps track of sex attackers, the Home Office said yesterday.

The Government is considering a stalker register for those convicted under the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act, which could include forcing offenders to tell the police of any change of address.

The Home Office is to consult with victims' groups and the police about whether a register of serial and violent stalkers would be useful in preventing and detecting future crimes. Charles Clarke, a Home Office minister, said: "Harassment can have a devastating effect on people's lives. it is something that must be tackled."

A Home Office evaluation of the Protection from Harassment Act has shown that more work needs to be done to train officers dealing with stalking cases. In 1998, 5,800 cases were successfully prosecuted under the Act in England and Wales, according to new government figures.

The register, if established, would most likely be used for "serial stalkers", not those who have committed more minor domestic-related crimes.

The announcement coincides with the launch of a new booklet aimed at helping police officers investigate stalking cases. Stalking - An Investigator's Guide, by Detective Inspector Hamish Brown of the Metropolitan Police, offers guidance on issues including restraining orders and how to deal with victims.

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