Police will take stalking suspects into custody in high-risk cases as part of efforts to bolster victim protection, officials here said on Wednesday, after facing criticism for failing to provide due protection to victims in two recent stalking murder cases.
The measure was announced as part of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency’s plan to strengthen its response capability against stalking crimes after two people were recently killed in stalking cases that had been reported to police, Yonhap news agency reported.
Last week, a 26-year-old man, named Lee Seok-joon, killed his former girlfriend’s mother and seriously injured her younger brother at their home in southern Seoul, and last month, 35-year-old Kim Byung-chan was arrested on charges of killing his ex-girlfriend at her studio apartment in central Seoul after stalking her for months.
In both cases, the victims were on the police protection list under the country’s first anti-stalking law enacted earlier this year, but the police failed to prevent the stalking from escalating into a more serious crime.’
To prevent similar cases from happening, police decided to assess potential risks of stalking cases on a three-level system and assign experienced police officials to high-risk cases.
If a stalker threatens or assaults the victim or victim’s family, friends or acquaintances, police will issue a level 2 alert in which police can take the stalker into custody.
When a stalker violates a restraining order, threatens to murder, or possesses weapons, the highest alert of level 3 will be issued and police will be obliged to detain the stalker.
Seoul police have been ordered to look into all pending stalking and sexual offense cases again and determine risk levels by the end of this month.
Police also plan to strengthen protection measures for stalking victims by providing them safe shelters before freeing the stalkers and notifying victims of the stalkers’ release date.