CUMBRIA'S lead detective overseeing domestic violence cases has welcomed new laws allowing police to put a stop to stalkers.

Detective Chief Inspector Dan St Quintin, Cumbria Police's lead for domestic abuse, stalking and harassment, believes the new stalking prevention orders will give police the powers they need to tackle stalking and harassment.

DCI St Quintin spoke to The Mail about the new Stalking Prevention Orders which allow police chiefs to obtain 'bail-like' conditions on individuals accused of stalking.

The change to the law gives police greater powers to deal with stalkers before a conviction and follows the introduction of the offence of coercive and controlling behaviour in 2015.

"It can be harder to identify coercive and controlling behaviour than it is to prove," DCI St Quintin said.

"With offences like coercive and controlling behaviour, stalking and harassment it's really important for us to take a close look at the incidents in order to understand what someone is a victim of."

DCI St Quintin explained that victims are identified in a number of ways including by reports from family and friends, by third parties such as Women's Community Matters in Barrow, or through direct reporting.

"We do get reports from worried family members or friends, even colleagues, and we will always go and investigate if someone reports something like that," he said.

"Our first priority is to see if someone is safe but we will always keep an open mind about what is reported to us."

DCI St Quintin explained that there is a 'fine line' between the three offences of coercive and controlling behaviour, stalking and harassment, but specially-trained officers are able to assess each case individually to identify what, if any, offences have been committed.

It often involves the current living situation and relationship status between the two parties but, if proposed changes to the law go ahead, coercive and controlling behaviour will also apply to those not in an intimate relationship.

"We have all manner of lines of enquiry to investigate including previous incidents we've been called to, where we might have collected evidence, evidence from witnesses, phone records or instances of revenge porn.

"All options are on the table and we will pursue whatever lines of enquiry necessary to protect victims."