DORSET Police have not made any use of new legal powers to protect victims of stalking.

Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) are a new civil power available to police which impose restrictions on suspected stalkers.

They are designed to make it easier to curb the behaviour of stalkers, with a lower burden of proof required than for a criminal conviction.

The latest data reveals that Dorset Police are one of just four forces who have failed to apply for a single order, which have been available to police forces in England and Wales since January 2020.

In Dorset no orders were applied for, despite a sharp spike in stalking incidents - in 2019 there were 416 incidents of stalking compared to 780 incidents in 2020.

Incidents of stalking within the county have risen by 88 per cent in the past five years yet the charge rate for perpetrators has dropped.

According to the data, the force has a charge rate of 7.4 per cent for stalking offences – out of a 416 offences, 47 resulted in charges between 2019 and 2020.

Stalking is a serious crime that can include following someone, repeatedly going uninvited to their home and monitoring a person’s use of phones and computers.

SPOs usually remain in place for two years and can include requirements for the stalker to seek treatment and surrender devices.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service, examples of restrictions that could be imposed on a stalker include banning them from entering certain locations or areas, contacting the victim by any means, making reference (directly or indirectly) about the victim on social media and so on.

The bar graph below shows you the number of reported stalking incidents compared to the number of charges between 2015 and 2021.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust, a charity that supports victims of stalking, has called on the police to use available legislation adequately to ensure perpetrators are prosecuted appropriately.

“Suzy Lamplugh Trust is concerned that the Stalking Protection Orders, brought in in early 2020, are not being used as effectively as was intended in order to best protect victims,” Saskia Garner, interim senior policy and campaigns manager, said.

“Unlike other non-stalking specific protections such as Non-Molestation Orders, SPOs place positive requirements on stalking perpetrators to manage specific risks on a case-by-case basis, and therefore must be applied to ensure the victim is protected.

“The police and wider criminal justice system must be adequately trained to use the stalking legislation correctly, including SPOs, to ensure perpetrators are prosecuted appropriately and victims supported and protected as soon as they report their case to the police.”

Dorset Police said they use a range of tools to support victims of stalking, such as non-molestation orders.

Stalking victim and current Miss Poole and Miss South Coast Charity Queen, Samantha Bumford said: “It’s not good enough at all.

“I know what I went through and my case wasn’t an ex-partner or a friend it was a stranger and it got to the point where I wasn’t safe.

“I just think this is awful, the police should offer people the SPOs and they need to follow through with it.

“The protection they [SPOs] offer victims is absolutely amazing, I was lucky enough to get a restraining order however that’s very rare and that wasn’t the police that offered that to me - it was the courts.

“The police need to step up massively and they need to really start protecting victims.”

Ms Bumford, 28, is campaigning for a stalking register within Dorset that will identify stalkers and act as a mechanism to protect future victims of this heinous crime.

She added: “There is nothing in place to stop these people from committing this crime so when are they going to stop?

“There are people out there in worse situations than me who are constantly living in fear because not enough is being done - it’s a very powerful thing”

In recent months Dorset Police has seen a rise in reported stalking offences reflecting a national increase in domestic related incidents.

In April 2020 there were changes to the way these offences were recorded, with harassment offences that are domestic related now recorded as stalking offences.

Detective Superintendent Gemma Morris, of Dorset Police, said: “The impact this type of crime can have on a victim can be devastating and long-lasting and it is a priority for the Force to ensure perpetrators are brought to justice.

“Dorset Police welcomed the introduction of Stalking Protection Orders as they are another tool that can be used to protect a victim of stalking offences. They are particularly useful in serious cases where there is a persistent offender and their behaviour is escalating.

“While we have not used any so far in Dorset, each case is considered individually to establish the most appropriate measures that can be put in place to safeguard a victim.

“Another tactic that is frequently used in Dorset is a non-molestation order. This is easily accessible for victims to apply for independently through a solicitor and is a well-established process that is effective for providing support and safeguarding to victims.

“Dorset Police works closely with partners and other agencies to encourage reporting and to support victims. The Dorset Stalking Clinic sees core agencies working together with the aim of sharing detailed information to ensure the best possible practice is followed in relation to safeguarding and crime prevention.

“In Dorset, we have three dedicated vulnerability lawyers who are there to help and support victims of stalking offences while their perpetrators are brought to justice.

“We are continuing to raise awareness of stalking offences with our staff and officers to ensure that victims are listened to, supported, and investigations are conducted as effectively as possible. All new recruits are trained in dealing with stalking and harassment offences.

“I would encourage anyone who has been a victim of stalking to have the confidence to come forward and contact Dorset Police.

"We are here to help and have officers trained to support you.”

David Sidwick, Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset, said: “Over the past few years I’ve listened to some horrific accounts from a number of victims of stalking, including campaigner Sam Bumford, about the impact that this destructive crime has had on them.

“I am committed to doing everything I can to help, and improving the support that’s available for victims of stalking will form an important element of the Police And Crime Plan for Dorset which I am currently developing.

“I was glad to see the introduction of Stalking Protection Orders, which along with other measures like Non Molestation Orders form an important part of the toolkit enabling the police to protect victims.

“I am aware that this relatively new measure has not been used as yet in Dorset but see that changing as we move forward, particularly as Dorset Police’s Vulnerability Lawyers are working closely with officers to identify cases which are suitable for SPOs and are expecting a number of cases to go to court in the near future.

“But there is more we can do, and I look forward to working closely with Dorset Police and other agencies to make sure victims receive the best support possible.

“I would like to reiterate the Force’s advice that anyone who is experiencing persistent and unwanted attention that is making them feel anxious should contact them on 101 (email or phone), or call 999 in an emergency.”

If you’re experiencing persistent and unwanted attention, and the behaviour is making you feel fearful, harassed or anxious, then contact Dorset Police online at or by calling 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency.

Anyone looking for support as a result of stalking and harassment can also contact the Dorset-based charity You First.