In the UK, restraining orders can only be issued during criminal proceedings, so in order to get a restraining order against someone, you must first report them to the police and then take them to court.
Any person convicted or acquitted of a criminal offence can be subject to a restraining order, which means that such orders can be imposed even if the defendant is found not guilty by the judge. Indeed, restraining orders are preventive and protective measures, so they can be granted as long as the court considers that the victim needs a specific protection.
Restraining orders are most commonly imposed in the context of domestic violence, to protect victims from abusive partners. For example, restraining orders can be directed towards:
- someone you are or have been in an intimate relationship with;
- a family member; or
- someone you’re living or have lived with.
An application for a restraining order needs to be made against a known person. This means that, for example, a restraining order cannot be made against someone who is making anonymous harassing phone calls.