National Police Agency establishes stalking and harassment response teams
Taipei, May 26 (CNA) The National Police Agency (NPA) has established dedicated taskforces to handle stalking and harassment cases, the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) said Thursday, with a new anti-stalking law set to come into force on June 1.
The NPA has formed "emergency response teams" at both central and local government levels in the hope of responding to reports of stalking and harassment in a more timely manner, MOI Minister Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said in a press statement on Thursday.
The teams were established in response to the Stalking and Harassment Prevention Act, which will come into effect on June 1, according to the MOI.
The ministry will also bring together a team of government officials, experts and representatives from civil society groups to regularly review the way in which the police handle stalking and harassment cases, Hsu said.
The MOI has also introduced new regulations in accordance with the law, increased the number of law enforcement officers, and provided police training, with the aim of ensuring all reports of stalking and harassment are properly handled, the statement said.
The Stalking and Harassment Prevention Act was signed into law late last year to increase punishments for such behavior and offer more protection to victims.
Under the act, stalking and harassment are defined as continuous or repeated actions related to sex or gender that frighten the victim and have a negative impact on their daily lives.
The new law lists eight types of behavior as constituting stalking and harassment, including spying on and trailing, following and approaching, threatening and insulting, and online harassment.
It also includes pursuing a relationship in an inappropriate manner, sending messages, delivering video clips or other objects by mail to another person, tarnishing someone's reputation or using their identity to buy goods.
At a Cabinet press conference on Thursday, senior NPA official Shen Ping-hsin (沈炳信), said the new law not only provides stricter punishments, but also offers better protection to victims by allowing for more active police intervention.
According to the new law, individuals found guilty of any of the eight actions face up to one year in prison and/or a maximum fine of NT$100,000 (US$3,593).
Anyone found guilty of engaging in stalking or harassment while carrying a dangerous weapon can be sentenced to a maximum of five-years in prison and/or a fine of up to NT$500,000.
In addition, Shen noted, the police can issue a "written warning" to a person reported to have engaged in stalking or harassment after some initial inquiry and before prosecutors investigate the case.
The police will also help victims of such offences obtain a restraining order from the court, Shen added.
According to Shen, if a suspect is considered likely to commit repeated stalking or harassment even after police warnings, the court can take him or her into custody as a precautionary measure.
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