Sweden’s stalking ban takes effect

In line with many other countries, Sweden has introduced new tougher laws to ban stalking, with prison sentences of up to four years enforceable for the most serious offenders.

Recent figures suggest that some 10 percent of the population has, to a lesser or greater extent, been a victim of stalking. Until now, such cases have been classed as molestation or assault, which has generally led to a fine for culprits.

However, the new law which came into force on Saturday, in the wake of the rising number of cases reported to the police, will give the authorities the power to sentence the worst offenders to jail terms of up to four years.

It comes after an intense period of lobbying over a number of years and an investigation carried out by the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, which highlighted the severity of the problem, claiming that around 130,000 people were victims of some form of stalking in 2006. Recent years have seen the problem grow, thanks to the new forms of media available to the public, such as SMS, email and social media.

”Because the penalties are now much tougher it will become a higher priority and it will be easier to use coercive measures such as arrest and detention,” police victim administrator Inka Wennerberg, told TT.

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