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Stalking becomes a criminal offence

Stalking becomes a criminal offence

Published: 28 Sep 2011 15:55 GMT+02:00
Updated: 28 Sep 2011 15:55 GMT+02:00

Stalking, or repeated harassment, becomes a criminal offence in Sweden from October 1st, and will carry a sentence of up to four years in prison if found guilty.

”As the seriousness of the crime is increased, the crime will receive a higher priority. It will be easier to charge perpetrators and get them remanded into custody,” said Inka Wennerberg, senior administrative officer and crime victim expert, at the National Police Board (Riskspolisstyrelsen) to news agency TT.

Until this weekend it has only been possible for victims of stalkers to report each incident as a separate threat or assault. But now repeated harassment becomes its own offence under the charge unlawful persecution (olaglig förföljelse).

One in ten Swedes has experienced some form of stalking in their life. The majority of those affected are women, according to figures from a 2006 study conducted by Sweden's National Council on Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådetBrå).

According to Brå, the victim is acquainted with the perpetrator in the majority of cases but in a third of all incidents the stalker is an unknown person.

In those cases people who are exposed in the media or have certain professions, like prosecutor or psychiatrist, are most vulnerable.

Swedish women's shelters often encounter individuals who are being persecuted, almost always by former partners.

According to Olga Persson, secretary general for the Swedish Association of Women’s Shelters and Young Women’s Empowerment Centres (Sveriges Kvinno-och tjejjourers riksförbundSKR) the threats that women receive today are different from before.

”The crime has changed over time. Women are being followed through text messages and Facebook. They get emails and repeated contacts like: 'I know where you are'. You are being watched on so many levels,” she said to TT.

TT/The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

16:34 September 28, 2011 by vijinho
So is 'facebook-stalking' covered by this legislation?
16:34 September 28, 2011 by ?????
Where can I report the Tax Office for stalking? :D
17:24 September 28, 2011 by sherkovic
2 years for raping a woman and 4 for stalking. Make your choice now.
17:53 September 28, 2011 by rouzi
What kind of solution is this? Punishing punishing punishing!!!
18:20 September 28, 2011 by RobinHood
Why wasn't it a criminal offence long before now?
19:41 September 28, 2011 by wxman
My girlfriend thinks I'm stalking her. Well, she's not exactly my girlfriend...yet!
19:54 September 28, 2011 by Tysknaden
@sherkovic: Rapists often start as stalkers. So this change is useful, anyways.
20:54 September 28, 2011 by JohnAndersson
Great. Now all the nice protestors will get charged with stalking if they show up twice to the same place, such as in England.
01:44 September 29, 2011 by missjane30
IMHO laws against stalking doesn't work. If a stalker intends to harm their victim they are most likely not concerned about jail time for stalking.
09:40 September 29, 2011 by Tysknaden
@CunningLinguist: The word "stalker" includes many kinds of attack and interference. You seemingly are thinking only of the voyeur type. A stalker risks direct confrontation, can become deadly. So... loosing fingers wouldn't be sufficient. Those stalking people have to be taken in custody, sometimes.
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