Friday, 18 December 2020
Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Bill 2017: Committee and Remaining Stages
I move amendment No. 23:
In page 7, line 2, after "her" to insert "and the deletion of "persistently" ".
These amendments all relate to proposed changes to the harassment offence contained in section 10 of the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997. I am delighted the Minister of State is making these changes. I have had my concerns about the operation of that section and the harassment offence for some time. However, I am concerned at the relatively limited scope of the changes the Minister is proposing. I would take the view if we are reviewing that section and making changes, why not do as comprehensive a job as possible. This is the intent of these amendments. Amendment No. 23 would delete the word "persistently" as a qualifier on the harassment offence. Amendment No. 24 would delete the word "seriously" as a qualifier on the offence. Finally, amendment No. 25 would include additional factors in determining sentence length.
I appreciate the Minister of State may be of the view that this Bill cannot contain a specific harassment offence as there are already statutory provisions in this area. I would therefore urge him to ensure that the 1997 Act is fit for purpose in this regard.