Stalking and Harassment
Stalking describes obsessive, unwanted behaviour by individuals
or sometimes groups of people towards others. These behaviours can
include: regularly sending gifts or flowers, malicious or unwanted
communication, cyberstalking, blackmail, physical or sexual assault
and damage to property or belongings. Stalking is usually a series
of actions taking place over a period of time.
Side effects of stalking include:
- Severe psychological distress
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
The British Crime Survey states that within the last year 9% of
women and 7% of men have been victims of stalking. Anyone can be a
victim of stalking.
Stalking is not always committed by strangers, even if you know
or knew your stalker it is still not acceptable.
If the behaviour is unwanted and makes you feel unsafe or causes
you harassment then it is stalking and you should not have to put
up with it.
- Take a mobile with you when you are out and vary routines,
- If you are going places alone, tell others where you are going
and when you will be back,
- Write down what the suspect looked or sounded like, including
the clothes they wore and any distinguishing features. If you saw a
vehicle record the make, model and colour and if possible try to
remember the registration number,
- Let the Police know if anyone else, perhaps your neighbours saw
or heard what happened,
- Tell neighbours, friends and colleagues what is happening and
ask them to keep a record of anything they see or hear. You may
also like to ask anyone who regularly visits your home e.g. your
postman/milkmen to keep a lookout too,
- Evidence from a security camera in a plain view is acceptable
evidence in court. However any evidence gathered without permission
eg by using a hidden video camera is not admissible,
- Avoid confronting your stalker.
Paper Correspondence, Telephone Calls and Text
- It is important to keep envelopes, as well as the content;
envelopes can also be used as evidence,
- Try to handle items, as little as possible,
- Record telephone conversations if you can and be sure to keep
- Keep any stored voicemail messages or texts and write down
numbers from mobile telephones,
- Write down details of any text messages and the content of any
calls, including the callers number and the time the message/ call
was received. If calls are received on a landline or answer machine
dial 1471 and write down the callers number/ time of call and any
- Do not tamper with or throw away the mobile telephone or SIM
- Screen phone calls and don't answer any calls from the
- If you do answer by accident, hang up immediately.
Other means of communication i.e. e-mails, social
messaging sites and social media
- Print and keep a file of copies of any emails,
- Print and keep a file of copies of social
- If necessary, download any stored material onto a new blank
disc or CD and label each item with date and time,
- Do not delete any relevant data,
- Do not tamper with any computer.
- Dont use obvious security questions
- Use iddferent passwords for different accounts
- Use free downloadable password manager software that makes it
easy to use a number of secure passwords
Social network sites are not secure, only add
trusted friends and family members and ensure you use the highest
privacy and security settings.
The Harassment Act 1997 gives legal protection against stalking.
It makes the stalking and harassment of another persons
The aims of the act are to deal with unsocial actions which
occur during a close period of time on two or more occasions. A
Police warning can be issued but there are powers for the Police to
arrest should this be necessary.
If anti social behaviour is also an issue to the stalking and
harassment, then other powers under the Anti Social Behaviour Act
2003 maybe used.
It is an offence to send indecent, offensive or threatening
letter or other electronic communcation to another person. This
falls under the Malicious Communications Act 1998.
Under the Telecommunications Act 1984 its an offence to send an
offensive or threatening telephone message.
Should you not wish to follow the criminal route a Non
Molestation Order can be obtained. These can prevent someone from
assaulting or harassing you. They may also prohibit them from
coming within a certain distance of you or your home. Breach of an
order is an arrest able offence.
Orders can be obtained via a solicitor or you can contact the
National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) who can give
confidential, free legal advice and obtain injunctions within 24
hours. For more information contact: 0844 8044 999, www.ncdv.org.uk