SDLP East Derry MLA Cara Hunter has welcomed the launch of a campaign to raise awareness around the crime of stalking.
It follows the introduction of new legislation which made stalking a criminal offence in the North.
Ms Hunter said the legislation would protect the public and ensure that offenders are punished appropriately.
East Derry MLA Ms Hunter said:
“The classification of stalking as a crime in the North was long overdue and was achieved through the hard work of campaigners and rights groups who spoke up for victims and fought tirelessly to ensure that anyone found guilty of this horrendous act would face fitting punishment to protect people and to send a clear message that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.
“The impact that stalking has on victims cannot be overstated. It can completely dominate someone’s life, turning it into a waking nightmare. Victims have detailed how the most precious moments of their lives have been ruined, how they have been left filled with anxiety and fear, never knowing what might happen or when. It’s only right that the damage this causes has finally been recognised in law.
“This legislation and awareness campaign is an important start, but it is far from the end of the matter. We need to see the Stalking Protection Orders introduced and we need to see a joined-up approach between our police service, the Public Prosecution Service and the Department of Justice to ensure that this legislation is used in the correct way to stop offenders and to keep the public safe from the scourge of stalking.”