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Q151: Someone keeps ringing/texting me and waiting for me outside work. I think they are stalking me, what can I do?


Answer

Harassment


If someone approaches you or rings/texts you on two or more occasions then they may commit an offence of harassment. The behaviour must form a course of conduct, this means related behaviour on two or more occasions. The further apart the incidents are, the less likely there is to be an offence of harassment. However, all the circumstances of the incident will be taken into account when determining if an offence has been committed.

The law uses a 'reasonable person' test, this means that if it was felt that a person of reasonable firmness, i.e. the average person on the street, would not find the behaviour to be oppressive, alarming or distressing, the offence is not committed. The offender must also be aware that the course of conduct they are pursuing would cause the victim to be alarmed or distressed.

 

Stalking

 

If someone pursues a course of conduct that amounts to harassment as described above, then this may amount to an offence of stalking if the conduct involves acts associated with stalking. Whilst there is no strict legal definition of 'stalking', legislation gives examples of acts that could amount to stalking. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • following a person;
  • contacting or attempting to contact a person by any means;
  • publishing a statement or other material relating to a person or purporting to relate to a person or purporting to originate from a person;
  • monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication;
  • loitering in any place (whether public or private);
  • interfering with any property in the possession of a person;
  • watching or spying on a person.

Fear of violence or serious alarm or distress

If someone is threatening you with violence then there is a more serious offence of harassment with fear of violence or stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress.

For the first offence to be committed, a person must engage in a course of conduct which amounts to harassment and causes another to fear that on at least two occasions, violence will be used against them. The person must know that their behaviour will cause fear of violence on each of those occasions.

In relation to conduct that amounts to stalking, the offence can be committed in two ways. Firstly if the conduct causes a person to fear that on at least two occasions, violence will be used against them; the person engaging in the conduct must know that their behaviour will cause fear of violence on each of those occasions. Secondly if the conduct causes a person serious alarm or distress which has a substantial effect on their usual day to day activities and the person engaging in the conduct ought to know that it will cause serious alarm or distress.

What can be done

If you feel that you are being harassed or stalked then you can contact your local police. If there are any threats of violence towards you, you should always inform the police and they will treat the matter with greater urgency.

In addition to any criminal proceedings, the police are able to apply for a Stalking Protection Order. This is a civil order similar to an injunction, which can impose restrictions on the person engaging in stalking behaviour. The order may prohibit the person entering certain locations or contacting the victim by any means. It can prohibit contacting any family members or friends of the victim or referencing them on social media. The restrictions imposed are tailored to the individual's circumstances. A Stalking Protection Order can be applied for whilst criminal proceedings are ongoing or before criminal proceedings begin to allow early intervention where behaviour could escalate to the committing of a stalking offence. A person who breaches a Stalking Protection Order commits a criminal offence.

There is a Stalking helpline and website which provides advice and support to those who are being stalked. It is run by Network for Surviving Stalking, Protection Against Stalking and the Suzy Lampugh Trust and is part funded by the Home Office.

Advice from the website states that you should contact them if -

  • You or someone you know are being made to feel harassed or intimidated by the behaviour of another person and:
  • You are unsure what can be done about this person's behaviour?
  • You feel that you, your friend or family member are at risk of emotional or physical harm?
  • You think this person has or will damage personal property?
  • You feel you cannot go directly to the police about this behaviour?

For further information, please see the websites in Related Information.

Related questions


Answer

Harassment


If someone approaches you or rings/texts you on two or more occasions then they may commit an offence of harassment. The behaviour must form a course of conduct, this means related behaviour on two or more occasions. The further apart the incidents are, the less likely there is to be an offence of harassment. However, all the circumstances of the incident will be taken into account when determining if an offence has been committed.

The law uses a 'reasonable person' test, this means that if it was felt that a person of reasonable firmness, i.e. the average person on the street, would not find the behaviour to be oppressive, alarming or distressing, the offence is not committed. The offender must also be aware that the course of conduct they are pursuing would cause the victim to be alarmed or distressed.

 

Stalking

 

If someone pursues a course of conduct that amounts to harassment as described above, then this may amount to an offence of stalking if the conduct involves acts associated with stalking. Whilst there is no strict legal definition of 'stalking', legislation gives examples of acts that could amount to stalking. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • following a person;
  • contacting or attempting to contact a person by any means;
  • publishing a statement or other material relating to a person or purporting to relate to a person or purporting to originate from a person;
  • monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication;
  • loitering in any place (whether public or private);
  • interfering with any property in the possession of a person;
  • watching or spying on a person.

Fear of violence or serious alarm or distress

If someone is threatening you with violence then there is a more serious offence of harassment with fear of violence or stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress.

For the first offence to be committed, a person must engage in a course of conduct which amounts to harassment and causes another to fear that on at least two occasions, violence will be used against them. The person must know that their behaviour will cause fear of violence on each of those occasions.

In relation to conduct that amounts to stalking, the offence can be committed in two ways. Firstly if the conduct causes a person to fear that on at least two occasions, violence will be used against them; the person engaging in the conduct must know that their behaviour will cause fear of violence on each of those occasions. Secondly if the conduct causes a person serious alarm or distress which has a substantial effect on their usual day to day activities and the person engaging in the conduct ought to know that it will cause serious alarm or distress.

What can be done

If you feel that you are being harassed or stalked then you can contact your local police. If there are any threats of violence towards you, you should always inform the police and they will treat the matter with greater urgency.

In addition to any criminal proceedings, the police are able to apply for a Stalking Protection Order. This is a civil order similar to an injunction, which can impose restrictions on the person engaging in stalking behaviour. The order may prohibit the person entering certain locations or contacting the victim by any means. It can prohibit contacting any family members or friends of the victim or referencing them on social media. The restrictions imposed are tailored to the individual's circumstances. A Stalking Protection Order can be applied for whilst criminal proceedings are ongoing or before criminal proceedings begin to allow early intervention where behaviour could escalate to the committing of a stalking offence. A person who breaches a Stalking Protection Order commits a criminal offence.

There is a Stalking helpline and website which provides advice and support to those who are being stalked. It is run by Network for Surviving Stalking, Protection Against Stalking and the Suzy Lampugh Trust and is part funded by the Home Office.

Advice from the website states that you should contact them if -

  • You or someone you know are being made to feel harassed or intimidated by the behaviour of another person and:
  • You are unsure what can be done about this person's behaviour?
  • You feel that you, your friend or family member are at risk of emotional or physical harm?
  • You think this person has or will damage personal property?
  • You feel you cannot go directly to the police about this behaviour?

For further information, please see the websites in Related Information.


Answer

It is possible that this type of behaviour may constitute harassment ,see the related questions in Related Information. However, it would probably be best if you first made contact with your local neighbourhood policing team who may be aware of other incidents and know the identity of the youths involved (if you don't). Police Community Support Officers are a valuable source of information.

The officers may be able to consider applying for civil injunctions or Criminal Behaviour Orders if the same youths are persistently causing a community problem with these types of nuisance activities.

These types of problems may not be solved straight away though, a lot of enquiries, research and observations may be required by both officers and members of the community in order to combat this anti-social behaviour.

It may be a good idea to keep a log of the incidents including the date, time and details of the incidents that have taken place, which may assist officers and local authority staff when investigating these matters.


Answer

For harassment to have been committed there must be a 'course of conduct' (i.e. two or more related occurrences). The behaviour does not necessarily have to be violent in nature, but would need to have caused some alarm or distress with an element of oppression required. The further apart the incidents are, the less likely that an offence of harassment has occurred. However, all the circumstances of the incident(s) will be taken into account when determining whether or not an offence has been committed.

The law takes into account the "reasonable person" test. Basically, this means that if it was felt that a typical person (i.e. the average person on the street) would have acted in the same scenario under the same circumstances. , and would have been alarmed or distressed by the behaviour, then it may be considered that an offence has been committed. The offender knows or ought to know that their behaviour would cause the victim to be alarmed or distressed.

  • Example : A lives at number 2 and B lives at number 4, there is a dispute over a fence. A keeps going round to B's house to complain, enters into a verbal argument and refuses to leave until B agrees to consider his request. This happens every night for a fortnight. B is fed up and has told A not to visit any more, B is feeling distressed about A's constant visits. A is aware that his behaviour will cause distress to B as he is hoping to wear him down into removing the fence.

The above is an example of the type of behaviour that could be considered harassment without fear of violence. Harassment with fear of violence is when a person whose course of conduct causes another to fear on at least two occasions, that violence will be used against him/her, and who knows or ought to know that his/her behaviour will cause fear of violence on each of the occasions is guilty of an offence.

The law still takes into account the "reasonable person" test when making a decision as to whether harassment with fear of violence has occurred. If your average person would not have feared violence, it may not be considered an offence.

  • Example : A and B are neighbours and A is upset over a fence. A goes round to B's house every night for a week threatening violence to B and damage to the fence if B does not take the fence down. B fears violence, as A is very aggressive in manner. A is aware that his behaviour is aggressive and is hoping to intimidate B into taking the fence down.

There are two ways you can deal with this situation; through the police or the civil courts. If you decide to start civil proceedings, you can contact the Citizens Advice (please see the link in Related Information to find your nearest one), or alternatively, inform your local policing team via their non-emergency 101 number. Where there are threats of violence you should always inform the police and they will treat the matter as a high priority.

For more information, please see the websites in Related Information.


Answer

If you receive two or more nuisance or threatening communications this could amount to an offence of harassment. For harassment to be committed, there must be a 'course of conduct' i.e. two or more related occurrences. The communication does not necessarily have to be violent in nature, but it would need to be oppressive and cause alarm or distress.

The incidents must be related and must not be two isolated incidents. The further apart the incidents are, the less likely there is to be an offence of harassment. However, all the circumstances of the incident will be taken into account when determining if an offence has been committed.

The law takes into account the "reasonable person" test. This means that if it was felt that a person of reasonable firmness i.e. the average person on the street would not be alarmed or distressed, the offence is not committed. The offender must also be aware that the course of conduct they are pursuing would cause the victim to alarmed or distressed.

Example
A and B were partners, A finishes the relationship but B is not happy. B sends 30 communications over the course of a week begging A to reconsider. If A is then distressed by this course of action, an offence of harassment is likely to have been committed. Note however, if A was not distressed and ignored the communications, then no offence of harassment would have occurred.

There are two possible ways of dealing with this type of harassment; through the police or the civil courts. To commence civil proceedings you should contact the Citizens Advice, please see the link in related information to find your nearest one. Alternatively, if you would like police involvement you can contact your local policing team via the non-emergency 101 number.


Answer

Whilst there is no legal requirement to report a crime, there is a moral duty on everyone of us to report to the police any crime or anything we suspect may be a crime.

Contact your local police force

Enter your town or postcode to see information from your local force

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Question

Q151: Someone keeps ringing/texting me and waiting for me outside work. I think they are stalking me, what can I do?


Answer

Harassment


If someone approaches you or rings/texts you on two or more occasions then they may commit an offence of harassment. The behaviour must form a course of conduct, this means related behaviour on two or more occasions. The further apart the incidents are, the less likely there is to be an offence of harassment. However, all the circumstances of the incident will be taken into account when determining if an offence has been committed.

The law uses a 'reasonable person' test, this means that if it was felt that a person of reasonable firmness, i.e. the average person on the street, would not find the behaviour to be oppressive, alarming or distressing, the offence is not committed. The offender must also be aware that the course of conduct they are pursuing would cause the victim to be alarmed or distressed.

 

Stalking

 

If someone pursues a course of conduct that amounts to harassment as described above, then this may amount to an offence of stalking if the conduct involves acts associated with stalking. Whilst there is no strict legal definition of 'stalking', legislation gives examples of acts that could amount to stalking. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • following a person;
  • contacting or attempting to contact a person by any means;
  • publishing a statement or other material relating to a person or purporting to relate to a person or purporting to originate from a person;
  • monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication;
  • loitering in any place (whether public or private);
  • interfering with any property in the possession of a person;
  • watching or spying on a person.

Fear of violence or serious alarm or distress

If someone is threatening you with violence then there is a more serious offence of harassment with fear of violence or stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress.

For the first offence to be committed, a person must engage in a course of conduct which amounts to harassment and causes another to fear that on at least two occasions, violence will be used against them. The person must know that their behaviour will cause fear of violence on each of those occasions.

In relation to conduct that amounts to stalking, the offence can be committed in two ways. Firstly if the conduct causes a person to fear that on at least two occasions, violence will be used against them; the person engaging in the conduct must know that their behaviour will cause fear of violence on each of those occasions. Secondly if the conduct causes a person serious alarm or distress which has a substantial effect on their usual day to day activities and the person engaging in the conduct ought to know that it will cause serious alarm or distress.

What can be done

If you feel that you are being harassed or stalked then you can contact your local police. If there are any threats of violence towards you, you should always inform the police and they will treat the matter with greater urgency.

In addition to any criminal proceedings, the police are able to apply for a Stalking Protection Order. This is a civil order similar to an injunction, which can impose restrictions on the person engaging in stalking behaviour. The order may prohibit the person entering certain locations or contacting the victim by any means. It can prohibit contacting any family members or friends of the victim or referencing them on social media. The restrictions imposed are tailored to the individual's circumstances. A Stalking Protection Order can be applied for whilst criminal proceedings are ongoing or before criminal proceedings begin to allow early intervention where behaviour could escalate to the committing of a stalking offence. A person who breaches a Stalking Protection Order commits a criminal offence.

There is a Stalking helpline and website which provides advice and support to those who are being stalked. It is run by Network for Surviving Stalking, Protection Against Stalking and the Suzy Lampugh Trust and is part funded by the Home Office.

Advice from the website states that you should contact them if -

  • You or someone you know are being made to feel harassed or intimidated by the behaviour of another person and:
  • You are unsure what can be done about this person's behaviour?
  • You feel that you, your friend or family member are at risk of emotional or physical harm?
  • You think this person has or will damage personal property?
  • You feel you cannot go directly to the police about this behaviour?

For further information, please see the websites in Related Information.


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