On the 25 November 2012 two new stalking offences are being added to the Protection of Harassment Act 1997. 'Stalking’ and 'Stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress’.

 

Stalking is a term used for a particular kind of 'harassment'. Generally it describes a long term pattern of persistent and repeated behaviour. It occurs between all different relationships - the most common reports relate to ex-partners and/or acquaintances or and could be:

  • repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications
  • contacts on another in a way that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person.

 

Types of stalking behaviour

Taken in isolation, events might seem unremarkable. But in particular circumstances and with repetition, they take on a more sinister meaning.

Unwanted communications may include telephone calls, letters, emails, faxes, text messages, messages on social networking sites, graffiti or sending or leaving unsolicited gifts.

Unwanted intrusions include following, waiting for, spying on, approaching and going to a person's home. A stalker may also order or cancel goods or services, make complaints (to legitimate bodies), damage property or follow and try to talk to you online (cyberstalking).

 

Advice for victims:

  • Keep a record of what happened, where and when you were followed or telephoned, or when you received post or email messages
  • Keep phone messages, texts, relevant letters, objects used in communications and any social media communications
  • Details of people who may have seen these events
  • Write down information as soon as possible when events are still fresh in your mind
  • Tell the police if any neighbours or others saw or heard what happened
  • Record how the suspect looked or sounded - what they were wearing and the make, number plate of any involved car
  • Adjust privacy settings on websites and smart phones, keep personal data safe, change passwords regularly and install appropriate anti virus/spyware software
  • Avoid contacting or confronting the offender and do not attempt to deal with the situation yourself
  • Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.

 

Support for victims:

  • Norfolk Constabulary on 101, (or 999 if life is in danger or a crime is in progress)
  • National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300
  • Network for Surviving Stalking 07501 752741
  • Protection Against Stalking
  • Victim Support Service 0845 303 0900
  • National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0800 2000 247.