There is help and support available for victims of stalking and harassment.
What is stalking?
Stalking is a pattern of unwanted, fixated and obsessive behaviour which is intrusive and causes fear of violence or serious alarm or distress
It can include:
- Unwanted communications such as telephone calls, letters, e-mails, faxes, SMS text messages, sending or leaving unsolicited materials/gifts, graffiti, and/or messages on social networking sites.
- Unwanted intrusions including waiting for, spying on, approaching, accosting and going to a person's home.
- In addition, the stalker may engage in a number of associated behaviours including ordering or cancelling goods/services, making vexatious complaints (to legitimate bodies), cyberstalking (use of the internet to facilitate the behaviour), threats, property damage and violence.
Stalking is now a crime.
Two new offences of stalking were introduced in November 2012.
- Under the Protection from Harassment Act (PHA) 1997, (amended by Protection of Freedoms Act 2012) it is necessary to prove a course of conduct amounting to harassment (Section 2) or stalking (Section 2a) or fear of violence (Section 4) or stalking (Section 4a) which causes serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on the victim's usual day-to-day activities' which the perpetrator knows or ought to know amounts to harassment or stalking or fear of violence
- A course of conduct is conduct that occurs on at least two occasions. Most stalking cases should be arrested and charged at Section 4a. It also has a power of entry to perpetrator address. Section 2a allows for a warrant to search the perpetrator's home address
How do I report stalking and harassment?
If you need to report an incident of stalking call 101.
If you are in danger dial 999.
If you would like to find out more about stalking and how to identify it please visit the Paladin website . They have 6 golden rules:
- Report it as early as possible to the police and tell others what is happening
- Ensure you get good practical advice - contact the National Stalking Helpline
- Proactive evidence collection - keep all the evidence
- Overview of what is happening - keep a diary
- Risk Checklist - complete the S-DASH 11 screening questions on their website
- Trust your instinct
Paladin advice includes
- Tighten up security at home, to and from home, and at work. Change the locks to your home and if you can, install a burglar alarm or camera.
- Vary your daily routine if walking or driving to work or other places.
- Be careful when giving out personal details when on the phone, dealing with credit card services, social networking sites and people you meet.
Getting help and support?
If you are experiencing any forms of stalking and harassment it is important that you seek support as soon as possible as the unwanted behaviour usually escalate over time.
If you are in immediate danger please call 999.
It is important for everyone to be aware of how they can ensure their own personal safety, and this issue may be of particular concern to you if you are being harassed or stalked.
The Suzy Lamplugh Trust are specialists in the field of personal safety. They work to raise awareness of the importance of personal safety and to provide solutions that effect change in order to help people to avoid violence and aggression and live safer, more confident lives.
Their website has tips for how to stay safe during a number of everyday activities such as excercising, walking on the street, parking your car and using public transport.
Cyber safety / stay safe online:
- Google yourself to check your digital footprint frequently
- Change passwords often and do not use the same password for everything
- Check privacy settings on social networking sites and limit the amount of information you put on
- Be aware of geo-location and tagging on social networking sites and ensure that this is disabled on your smartphone
- Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date
- Report stalking to website administrators
Other useful cyber safety links include: