Stalking and Harassment
Harassment can be any repeated behaviour that is unwanted and makes you feel threatened, scared or upset. Behaviours include:
- frequently contacting or attempting to contact you
- driving past your home or work
- following or watching you
- sending you unwanted letters or gifts
- damaging your property.
Stalking is a particular kind of harassment and generally describes a long term pattern of persistent and repeated behaviour.
Examples of stalking behaviour may include:
- unwanted phone calls, letters, e-mails, text messages, or any form of communication
- loitering near the victim or where they live or work
- spying on the victim
- following the victim
- accosting the victim in private or public
- entering the victim’s home or workplace
- sending or leaving materials or gifts
- ordering or cancelling goods and services
- property damage
Experiencing any of these in particular circumstances and with repetition may be a sign of stalking.
- Protection from Harassment Act 1997 makes stalking a specific offence.
- Section 2A labels stalking as a criminal offence for the first time in English and Welsh Law.
- Section 4A deals with stalking that has caused fear of violence OR serious distress. Serious distress is behaviour that causes a "substantial adverse effect" on the victim's day to day activity.
- While some behaviours that constitute harassment will be similar to those manifesting in stalking situations, a key difference between these offences is that a stalker is more likely to be obsessively fixated on one specific individual – their victim. The stalker may have delusions that they are in a relationship with the victim when no relationship actually exists for example and even if the victim moves or changes their name, the stalker will do everything possible to track them down.
Victim Help & Support
• Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service - Tel: 0207 840 8960
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.
- Keep the 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 and 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.