Harassment is repeated and unwanted behaviour that causes the victim alarm and distress.
This can take many different forms, some examples are:
- Frequent, unwanted contact – for example sending text messages, appearing at home or the workplace
- Driving past the victim's home or work
- Following or watching the victim
- Sending unwanted letters or gifts to the victim
- Damaging the victim's property.
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 in a wide variety of situations - the most common reports relate to ex-partners and/or acquaintances. Stalking is a criminal offence under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
Examples of stalking behaviour could be:
- Following or watching a person
- Contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means
- Publishing material about a person
- Monitoring the use by a person of the Internet, e-mail or other form of electronic communication
- Loitering in any place
- Interfering with a person's property
- Watching or spying on a person.
Advice for victims
If a person's behaviour towards you is persistent and clearly unwanted, causing you fear, harassment or anxiety, then it is stalking and you should not have to live with it.
There are steps you can take to help deal with this type of behaviour:
- Keep a record of what happened - where and when you were followed or telephoned, or when you received post or e-mail messages; details of people who may have seen these events; write down information as soon as possible when events are still fresh in your mind
- Record how the suspect looked and sounded - What they were wearing and the make and number plate of any vehicle involved
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times
- Think about your phone settings - Use a PIN with random numbers; turn off geo-location services in camera apps and your mobile settings; don't use apps that tell you where friends are, check you in etc
- Use a safe computer - use a different computer, belonging to a friend or library, until you can install anti-spyware software on your computer; delete all online accounts; obtain several new e-mail addresses and don't use your name or nickname as a stalker could identify you; create new passwords and password protect your computer
- Social networks are not secure - Your friends can easily share information that can help an abuser track you down. Make sure you use strict privacy settings or, if possible, delete your Facebook account.
Important – if you feel that someone’s behaviour is putting you at immediate risk then call 999
If you feel that you are being stalked, we would prefer to speak to you on the phone (by calling us on 101) or in person.
National Stalking Helpline- www.stalkinghelpline.org/
The National Stalking Helpline provides guidance and information to anybody who is currently or has previously been affected by harassment or stalking.
- 0808 802 0300 (09:30 - 16:00 weekdays except Wed 13:00 16:00)
Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service- www.paladinservice.co.uk/advice-for-victims/
The Paladin National Stalking Advocacy Service assists high risk victims of stalking throughout England and Wales, ensuring that high risk victims of stalking are supported and that a coordinated community response is developed locally to keep victims and their children safe.
- 020 7840 8960