The Crimes Act 1958 states that a person must not stalk another person. The suggested minimum time imprisonment for the offence is five years, with a maximum of 10. Conduct that falls within this jurisdiction is when a person stalks another person when they follow the victim, when they conduct the victim or any other person by post etc, interfering with property of the victim’s and related behaviours. The legislation also suggests that for the purpose of the act an offender also must have an intention to cause physical or mental harm to the victim.
The crime of stalking has recently been extended as a result of the use of the internet (such as social media), an offence known as cyber-stalking. The legislation was modernized with the introduction of the Crimes (Stalking) Act 2003 which included the use of electronic communications. As a result of the technological revolution, the demands on the law remaining up-to-date have increased. Cyber-Stalking can target younger people, through the use of social media sites, such as Facebook and Tumblr.
Cyberstalking, defined by NetAlert, is “where a person is stalked or harassed by another person using a service of the internet such as email, instant messaging or via a posting in a discussion group. Stalking behaviours can include threats, cryptic messages and sexual innuendo that occur in a frequent and intrusive manner”. 4. This online behaviour has presented various jurisdictional issues for legislatures to address.
In order to address the various issues of online crime thorough education programs must be enforced in schools,. Education will provide a preventative approach to combat the issue surrounding vulnerability online. Related behavior includes cyber bullying. This form of bullying is most commonly seen among schoolchildren and adolescents.
The Magistrate Courts’ found that the majority of stalking offenders are male, at 86.5%. With the majority of offenders between 21 and 40 years old. It was found that both men and women are more likely to stalk women than men, 86.0 per cent and 57.1 per cent respectively.
The effects of stalking on the victim often include a fear to leave the house, a fear of being followed, frustration, anxiety etc. In can also often result in a inability to trust others, isolation and insecurity. Victims of stalking are advised to seek assistance in order to deal with the issue and gain assurance for the future.