What is stalking? what is harassment?

If you are in immediate danger call 999.

This two-minute animated film, ‘Is It Stalking’ looks at what stalking is and the different ways it can manifest as well as offering practical help and support for people who are experiencing it. Please visit Live Life Safe the Suzy Lamplugh trust website for further informaiton and advice.

Stalking is:

Unwanted and obsessive attention by an individaul or group towards another person that places that person in fear.

Harassment is:

Behaviour intentionally carried out with the aim of causing a person to feel alarmed, threatened or distressed.

Who are stalkers?

The popular image of a stalker is that they are strangers. In reality, victims of stalking often know their stalker. It could be an ex-partner, a friend, colleague or an acquaintance.

Those who harass are?

More likely to be people you know and in certain circumstances maynot realise they are causing a problem. So please talk to them and explain how you feel when they do the things they do.

Online harassement could be described as trolling and can be from anyone who follows you on social media.

Types of stalking and harassment behaviour:

  • Unwanted contact (in person, by phone or online)
  • Following and watching the victim
  • Catcalling or wolf-whistling also known as street harassment
  • Sending unwanted presents, for example flowers
  • Damaging property belonging to the victim or their family
  • Threatening the victim or their family

However, every case is different and there are many other incidents that could be seen as stalking or harassment.

What you can do

Keep a diary of what is happening when, where and by whom

Save all texts, emails, letters and communications

If you can do so safely take photographs or video of your stalker

Read the two leafelts that share good advice:

Contact the National stalking helpline for further advice:

  • They are open to take calls Monday to Friday 9:30am – 4pm (except Wednesdays when they are open at 1pm.
  • Tel: 0808 802 0300
  • Email: advice @ stalkinghelpline org

Contact the police for advice

Stalking and the law

Stalking became a criminal offence in 2012 when the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 amended the 1997 Protection from Harassment Act. (Under the act see sections 2a and 4a) Stalking, which involves the fear of violence or serious alarm or distress, carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

Harassment and the law

1997 Protection from Harassment Act

"A prosecution under section 2 or 4 requires proof of harassment. In addition, there must be evidence to prove the conduct was targeted at an individual, was calculated to alarm or cause him/her distress, and was oppressive and unreasonable."

"Closely connected groups may also be subjected to 'collective' harassment. The primary intention of this type of harassment is not generally directed at an individual but rather at members of a group. This could include: members of the same family; residents of a particular neighbourhood; groups of a specific identity including ethnicity or sexuality, for example, the racial harassment of the users of a specific ethnic community centre; harassment of a group of disabled people; harassment of gay clubs; or of those engaged in a specific trade or profession."

Source: Crown Prosection Service (CPS) - Harassment

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