UCL Faculty of Laws


The Problematic Development of the Stalking Protection Order

By Dr Rory Kelly, Lecturer in Criminal Evidence and Criminal Law at UCL Laws

People walking down the street lined with shops on Tottenham Court Road

13 February 2020

Publication details

Kelly, Rory. (2020) 'The Problematic Development of the Stalking Protection Order', Modern Law Review, 83(2), 406-427. Available online: https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-2230.12508 


In 2019, Parliament enacted the Stalking Protection Act. The Act introduces the stalking protection order (SPO); a civil measure the breach of which is an offence. The role of courts in assessing whether similar behaviour orders are penalties has attracted significant scholarly attention. This article examines instead the roles of Government and Parliament in developing the stalking protection order. The central contention is that the Home Office undertook a problematic consultation and the issues to which it gave rise were not addressed in later parliamentary debates. The result was the enactment of a coercive measure of unclear purpose and questionable efficacy. Assessing the roles of the executive and legislature in developing the SPO also allows for fresh insight into wider discussions of behaviour orders. Specifically, the article questions the language of ‘prevention’ that is ever present in such discussions and describes an important development for debates on whether behaviour orders are penalties.