RELATIVES of a Wigan stalking victim have welcomed tough new laws designed to crack down on the crime.
Sandra Bamford’s 10-year-old granddaughter, Shauna Greensmith, was pursued while out riding her bicycle by a black-clad prowler last month.
And the Evening Post reported a similar incident that occurred a week previous when 14-year-old Dillon Tarbuck was followed while walking home after meeting friends.
Praising the new legislation, Mrs Bamford, said: “I think this is a good idea and I’m glad they’ve brought it into play now.
“The incident really scared us and obviously Shauna was affected by it.
“We make sure now that if she is playing out she has a group of friends with her.
“It does reassure us as a family that the police are doing something to help track down the people responsible although we’ve not heard anything more from them about our incident.”
The man pursuing Shauna fled after she lost balance and fell off her bike as her screams were heard by her sister and friends who came to her aid.
Previously, no specific anti-stalking laws existed in England and Wales, meaning offenders would often be charged with harassment.
The Government has now introduced two specific offences, stalking and stalking involving a fear of violence, which carry a maximum six-month and five-year sentence respectively.
The legislation has also been welcomed by campaigners and victim support groups.
Maureen Burgess of Wigan based charity DIAS, a service for victims of domestic abuse, said the introduction was long overdue.
She said: “I welcome any laws that support victims of crime as absolutely vital.
“To know that serious legislation and a commitment from the police to protect people who are affected by these crimes has come out is reassuring.
“Stalking and harassment are nasty and insidious crimes that affect a lot of the people we deal with.
“Often when relationships end we see examples of this kind of behaviour and the psychological impact can be extremely damaging not only to the victims but also to their families and friends.”