Stalking can be defined as persistent and unwanted attention, where the victim feels harassed. There are many forms of harassment.
Individual incidents taken on their own might not seem as serious but they can have an impact on the victim. Harassment and stalking commonly makes victims anxious and afraid.
The most common forms of harassment are:
- Frequent unwanted contact
- Telephone calls, text messages or other contact via the internet
- Following or watching the victim
- Sending unwanted gifts/ letters
- Damaging property
- Threats of harm
- Harassment of people associated with the victim
Forms of stalking behaviour:
- Breaking into the victim’s home
- Abusing the victim’s family/ friends
- Threatening harm to children
- Identity theft
Sometimes the stalker is not known to the victim, but in the vast majority of cases there will be some association. In most cases, the victim and their stalker will previously have been in an intimate relationship. This is the most dangerous type of stalking situation.
It is important to remember that stalking isn’t a ‘one off’ crime. It is a series of incidents which in isolation may appear trivial but put together they become far more sinister.
Stalking was made a criminal offence in England and Wales in November 2012. Two new offences were introduced; stalking and stalking where there is a fear of violence.
How can I protect myself?
National charities the National Stalking Helpline and the Suzy Lamplugh Trust both offer detailed advice on how to protect yourself. This includes protecting yourself at home, at work, out and about and online.
If you are concerned, you should tell the person concerned that you do not want any further contact. It is also helpful to keep a record of any incidents which you think may be relevant, including a note of what takes place with the location, time and date. You should also save evidence of any text messages, emails and screenshots which you receive.
Where can I get help or further information?
If it is an emergency – where there is a crime in progress or serious risk - call 999.
If you are being stalked or harassed call 101 in a non-emergency.
For information and advice, you can also contact the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 or by email at [email protected]