A Gloucestershire man has become the first in the county to be served with a Stalking Protection Order under the new Stalking Protection Act.

The new law came into force in January and enables police forces to better protect victims by preventing the defendant from carrying out acts associated with stalking.

Gloucestershire police obtained the order against the man, who is in his 20s and from Gloucester, during a hearing at Cheltenham Magistrates' Court earlier this month following an investigation into a complaint that he was stalking his ex-partner and her family.

The order, which has been granted for five years means that the man cannot contact the victim directly or indirectly or carry out surveillance by any means.

He is also barred from making any reference to the victim in any message or on any social media platform and from entering a specified exclusion zone.

Breaches of the order are punishable by a maximum of five years imprisonment.

Detective Superintendent Steve Bean said: "The crime of Stalking can cause utter misery, fear and lasting emotional and psychological damage to victims and their families. Stalking Protection Orders (SPOs) are a relatively new, but highly significant tool in the management of perpetrators of this deplorable offence.

"I am extremely pleased that an SPO has been obtained in this case, and hope that the victim can now live her life safe in the knowledge that if the offender breaches any of the conditions, there will be serious consequences, including potential imprisonment.

"Gloucestershire has an extremely strong, networked multi-agency response to the linked issues of stalking, harassment, domestic abuse and sexual violence, and victims can be reassured that these types of criminal behaviours will not be tolerated under any circumstances."

A number of support services are available for anyone who is concerned about stalking:

• GDASS: gdass.org.uk

• Victim Support: victimsupport.org.uk/help-and-support/get-help/support-near-you/south-west/gloucestershire

• National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300 suzylamplugh.org/pages/category/national-stalking-helpline

• Local information for professionals on identifying and responding to stalking: glostakeastand.com/professionals

Anyone who wishes to report concerns about stalking to police can do so by completing the following online form: gloucestershire.police.uk/tua/tell-us-about/soh/seen-or-heard, calling 101 or 999 if it is an emergency.