AN interim Stalking Protection Order has been made against a 25-year-old man from Dudley.

The order was the first granted in the region - with West Midlands Police force believed to be one of the first nationally to use new stalking protection legislation.

The new legislation was introduced in January and so far several cases have been assessed with the first successfully granted at Wolverhampton Magistrates Court on March 19.

Orders can be imposed while criminal cases are being built, providing extra protection for victims at an early stage, by blocking alleged perpetrators from contacting people or approaching their accusers at the earliest opportunity while a criminal investigation is carried out.

This first interim order has been issued until July 2, 2020, when the full order application will be heard.

If breached, the man - who cannot be named for legal reasons - could face up to five years in prison.

Detective Inspector Cate Webb-Jones, from the force's public protection unit, said: “The new legislation is a really powerful new tool which will help provide early support for victims of stalking and harassment.

“We acknowledge more needs to be done to improve how we and the CPS respond to stalking cases, particularly around identifying patterns of behaviour rather than looking at incidents in isolation. These orders will put immediate restrictions on behaviours which will often run parallel with criminal investigations so we can understand more about what is going on.

“Stalking cases are often very complex and are extremely distressing for victims. We’re committed to bringing these offenders to justice and safeguarding victims at the earliest opportunity and SPOs will help us to do that more effectively."

Anyone concerned about stalking is urged to visit the force website for advice and support on what to do - stalking.