Netflix hit Baby Reindeer shines a light on Stalking

23 April 2024


The new drama series from Netflix, ‘Baby Reindeer’ has become a talking point in most households since it was released on 11th April 2024, no more so than because the series, which deals with some very hard-hitting topics, is based on the true-life events of actor Richard Gadd who plays the main character Donnie.  The show is centred around Gadd's own personal ordeal of being stalked and experiencing sexual assault during his twenties.

The show’s release is timely given this week is National Stalking Awareness Week 2024, a week where there is a particular focus on highlighting the behaviours that amount to stalking and the effect that this behaviour has on victims.  

What protection is there against stalking in Northern Ireland?

Many viewers of ‘Baby Reindeer’ may be wondering what protections is in place in Northern Ireland if you are experiencing harassing or stalking behaviour.

In Northern Ireland, we now have new legislation making stalking a criminal offence. 

The Protection from Stalking Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 came into force in April 2022 and allows for a person to be arrested for stalking if they have engaged in a course of conduct that causes their victim to suffer fear, alarm, or substantial distress. 

This legislation also makes it a criminal offence for a person to behave in a threatening or abusive manner towards a victim which would reasonably cause them to suffer fear and alarm.

If a person is convicted of the offence of stalking, the maximum sentence is imprisonment of up to 10 years. 

What is a Stalking Protection Order?

The new stalking laws in Northern Ireland include provision for a Court to grant a Stalking Protection Order .Once in force, a Stalking Protection Order prohibits a person from carrying out acts associated with stalking, such as entering certain locations where the victim resides or frequently visits, contacting the victim by any means or approaching the victim. A Stalking Protection Order may also impose requirements for attendance at a perpetrator intervention programme.

How can I protect myself if I am being stalked?

If you are being harassed or stalked, it is vital that you report matters to the Police as soon as possible.  Under our new stalking laws, the police will be able to take steps to investigate bringing criminal charges against your stalker for their behaviour against you.

Can I apply for Orders if I am being stalked?

You may also seek to ask the Court to make Orders against your stalker to protect you from any further harassing or stalking behaviour.   

If you and the person stalking you are family members or if you have lived together in a familial relationship or have a child together, then you can apply for a Non-Molestation Order against them. If a Non-Molestation Order is granted, this individual is restrained from being able to molest, harass, pester, use or threaten violence against you or contact you at all.  If they breach this Order they can be charged with committing a criminal offence. 

If you and the person stalking you are not related to one another via blood or marriage and indeed if the person stalking you is not known to you, you may be able to apply to the Court for a Civil Injunction against that person if there is evidence of two separate incidents of harassment.

Having a stand-alone criminal offence of stalking has undoubtedly given greater powers to the police in NI in tackling complaints of stalking.  This law will allow for more appropriate penalties to be imposed on perpetrators through our criminal Courts. This is a significant development in the law governing domestic abuse and harassment in Northern Ireland.

If you require advice regarding stalking, contact Family Law Partner Karen Connolly on or call 028 9024 3901 for further advice and assistance.