Stalking and harassment
What is stalking and harassment?
Stalking can be defined as persistent and unwanted attention where the victim feels pestered and harassed. There are many forms of harassment ranging from unwanted attention from somebody seeking a romantic relationship, to violent predatory behaviour.
Stalking and harassment includes behaviour which happens two or more times directed at or towards someone by another person, that causes the victim to feel alarmed or distressed or to fear that violence might be used against them.
It can take place between:
- current or ex partners, or family members as part of domestic abuse;
- someone who is known personally to the victim, such as a neighbour, work colleague or friend, sometimes where that acquaintance is very slight.
- strangers, for example the stalking or harassment of someone in the public eye or where someone is targeted, for example, because of their race, disability, sexual orientation or religion.
Harassment might include such things as:
- antisocial behaviour;
- bullying at school or in the workplace;
- cyber stalking on the internet;
- sending abusive text messages;
- sending unwanted gifts.
Stalking is an aggravated form of harassment and includes things like:
- persistently following someone:
- repeatedly going uninvited to their home;
- monitoring someone’s use of the internet, email or other form of electronic communication;
- loitering somewhere frequented by the person;
- interfering with their property;
- watching or spying on someone;
- identity theft.
Stalking and harassment can have serious consequences on someone’s physical and mental health.
Since 1997, there has been a specific law on harassment. The Protection from Harassment Act, can be used in both the Civil and Criminal Courts. It makes it unlawful to ‘pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another and which the defendant knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of another’.
Stalking and harassment are crimes under sections 2 and 4 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 and should be reported to the police.
If you think you are being harassed or stalked you can seek an injunction under the Protection from Harassment Act. If the police charge someone with a crime and that person appears at court, then the court can make a restraining order under the Act, even if the person is found not guilty.
The National Stalking Helpline : http://www.stalkinghelpline.org/
Paladin, the National Stalking Advocacy Service : http://paladinservice.co.uk/
Suzy Lamplugh Trust http://www.suzylamplugh.org/