Stalking and Harassment

Stalking and harassment affects millions of people in the UK.  Investigations relating to stalking and harassment can be linked to some of the most serious crime the police can deal with, including murder, sexual offences and domestic abuse.  The impact of stalking and harassment on victims, families and communities can be devastating.

Changes to the Protection from Harassment Act now means there are specific offences for both stalking and for stalking that causes a fear of violence or serious distress.

What is Stalking?

Stalking can be defined as persistent and unwanted attention from an individual or a group where the victim feels pestered and harassed. It can have an adverse effect on the victim’s day to day activity very often causing them to lose time from work or school or becoming withdrawn.

The behaviour can present itself in many ways:

  • Phone calls
  • Messages on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter
  • Emails
  • Text messages
  • Being watched or followed
  • Cards
  • Gifts
  • Letters

What you can do if you think you are being stalked

If you think you are being stalked you can seek advice from the police or make a complaint by calling 101. You can also apply to the civil court for an injunction against the person you believe is stalking or harassing you.

If you believe you are in any immediate danger, call 999.

To help us to help you it is important to try and gather evidence and document what is happening, so:

  • Keep a diary. Record details of what's happened, where and when, every time you are followed, phoned, receive post or e-mails, etc. Record events while they are still fresh in your mind. 
  • The more details you have the better, how the offender looked or sounded, what they were wearing, the make, colour and number plate of their car etc.  It's also important to document how what happened made you feel. 
  • Keep letters and parcels as evidence. Even if they contain frightening or upsetting messages, do not throw them away and handle them as little as possible.
  • If you recognise the handwriting, you can keep letters or parcels as evidence without having to open them. They can be passed directly to the police.
  • Keep copies of e-mails on disk and print out hard copies, do not delete the original.
  • Record telephone conversations if you can and keep the tape.
  • Make sure you keep any stored messages (including text messages) or telephone numbers that you have received on your mobile phone and caller ID units.

What else can you do

Even though we are here to help and support you, there are a number of practical measures you can take to help protect yourself.

  • Tell friends, family and colleagues what is happening.  Tel them when you are going out and what time you plan to be back.  They can also be another source of support for you.
  • Answer the phone by saying 'hello', not your name or number.
  • Try to keep calm and not show emotion, many callers will give up if they don't think they're making an impression on you or your feelings.
  • Use an answer machine to screen out calls and only talk to people you want to.
  • If the caller rings again, put the handset down on a table for a few minutes - the caller will think you're listening. After a few minutes replace the handset, you do not have to listen to what the caller has to say.
  • Take a mobile telephone with you when you go out.
  • Carry a personal attack alarm and learn how to use it - do not carry anything that is meant for use as a weapon.
  • Try to alter your daily routines.
  • Do not confront your stalker or even engage them in conversation.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, agree to a meeting to talk about how you feel about them constantly bothering you.
  • Do not respond in any way to calls, letters, or conversations. If you ignore the phone nine times and pick it up on the tenth, you will send the message that persistence pays. Once they have your attention, they will be encouraged to carry on.
  • Ask friends or solicitors to contact them if you want to get a message to them.

Useful Information

You can download information about how to stay safe.