Many people presume that stalking is undertaken by a stranger, however in reality a stalker is often known to the victim...
What is stalking?
Stalking or harassment is the unwanted and often obsessive behaviour from one person to another person(s). Often stalking is a series of incidents, which in isolation, can appear trivial but altogether they can become far more sinister.
Many people presume that stalking is undertaken by a stranger, however in reality a stalker is often known to the victim and maybe an ex-partner, a friend, colleague or an acquaintance.
In the early stages of stalking the incidents may appear minor such as continually sending text messages or emails, persistent calling or the giving of ‘unwanted’ presents. However, the incidents will often increase becoming more threatening causing the victim anxiety, distress and fear.
If you feel you are experiencing persistent harassment by another person which is causing you distress and fear then it is important to seek help.
If you are in immediate danger call 999.
For more advice and support call the police on 101 or the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300.
Types of stalking behaviour
There are many types of behaviour associated with stalking, a few common examples are:
- unwanted contact (in person, by phone or online)
- following and watching the victim
- damaging property belonging to the victim or their family
- threatening the victim or their family
- sending unwanted presents, for example flowers
- physical or sexual assault of the victim
However, every case is different and there are many other incidents which could be seen as harassment or stalking.
Involving the police
Devon and Cornwall Police treats reports of stalking and harassment very seriously.
If you are a victim of stalking, it is essential you gather evidence about incidents taken place – no matter how trivial they might appear. The more information you can give us the more evidence the police can use for their investigation.
Keeping voice mails, text messages, emails, pictures, examples of unwanted gifts is essential. It is also important to keep a log of all the incidents which have occurred whether there is evidence available or not.
Consider asking family, friends, neighbours and work colleagues and to record any sightings of the individual or if they are approached what was said, as this will all help.
If you are unsure about gathering evidence it may be worth speaking to the police in the first instance to find out exactly what information you might need to collect.
Stalking and the law
Police are able to take action against stalkers under the Protection from Harassment Act and often a stalker’s behaviour will break other laws as well.
Depending on the severity of the incidents, the sentencing can range from a fine to a custodial sentence.
Devon and Cornwall Police work alongside partner agencies to ensure those suffering the consequences of stalking and harassment receive the best possible support and advice.
Help and Advice
If you do not want to involve the police, there are things which you can do to help yourself.
- Always carry a mobile phone - if you feel in immediate danger at any time call 999.
- Consider having a personal attack alarm in your bag or close at hand and ensure you know how it works.
- Change your routine and ask friends to go with you places. Let people know your plans, so if you are not where you should be someone will realise.
For more information about protecting yourself visit the National Stalking Helpline website.