AN MP has welcomed an increase in the maximum jail term for stalking.
Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt backed the changes to increase the term from five to 10 years.
It comes as 194 people were convicted of stalking in England and Wales and were, on average, sentenced to 14 months in jail.
The government has accepted an amendment proposed in the House of Lords by Labour to increase the jail terms.
Ms Mordaunt said: ‘A stalker can make a persons life really very difficult.
‘The fear to leave your own home can be devastating, or the constant fear of being watched, confronted or tormented can be very damaging.
‘Stalking often affect victims for a long time even after a successful arrest or conviction.
‘The new longer sentencing will mean security and peace of mind for victims, especially when trying to return to normal day to day life without fear of being stalked.’
Amendments are due to be made to the Policing and Crime Bill, when it is debated in the Commons on Tuesday.
The bill, which is in its final stages in parliament, is due to become law within weeks.
Announcing the change, justice minister Sam Gyimah said: ‘Stalkers torment their victims and can make everyday life almost unbearable.’
If the offence is racially or religiously aggravated, the current seven-year maximum will go up to 14.
The law will also raise the maximum sentence for harassment from five to 10 years, and similarly from seven to 14 if it is racially or religiously aggravated.
Havant charity Aurora New Dawn has also welcomed the increase in sentencing, announced on Friday.