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Stalking and Harassment

Women’s Aid defines stalking when ‘a person becomes fixated or obsessed with another’.

Stalking is a pattern of persistent and unwanted attention that makes you feel pestered, scared, anxious or harassed. Some examples of stalking are:

  • Following, surveillance, spying
  • Standing, loitering around your home, school, place of work etc
  • Verbal abuse or public humiliation
  • Unsolicited mail, postcards, photographs and gifts
  • Repeatedly texting/emailing/leaving voicemails
  • Planting spyware viruses into your computer
  • Hacking into your computer, email, cameras and social media accounts
  • Spreading rumours, discrediting
  • Threats/violence against you, your family, friends or pets
  • Physical violence, sexual assault, rape, murder
  • Befriending your friends, family to get closer to them
  • Going through rubbish bins; leaving offensive material in the garden
  • Breaking into your car, home or office and/or damaging property
  • Declarations of love and communications indicating they are in some sort of relationship with you
  • Cyber stalking, bullying and identify theft - social networks (including create fake accounts), websites, forums, chat rooms, instant messaging

Who can be a stalker?

A stalker could be a former or current sexual partner; an acquaintance, friend, colleague, neighbour or family member; or a complete stranger to their victim. Below we have listed the different types of stalkers to help you recognise if you, or someone you know, may be being stalked.

Models of stalking behaviour include:

The rejected stalker: Rejected stalking arises following the breakdown of a close relationship

The resentful stalker: Resentful stalking arises when the stalker feels as though they have been mistreated or that they are the victim of some form of injustice or humiliation

The intimacy seeking stalker: Intimacy Seeking stalking arises out of a context of loneliness

The incompetent suitor: The Incompetent Suitor stalks out of loneliness or lust and targets strangers or acquaintances

The predatory stalker: Predatory stalkers are usually male and victims are usually female strangers in whom the stalker develops a sexual interest

What are the warning signs I should look out for? 

The acronym FOUR helps you remember what type of behaviours to look out for:

Fixated: Being followed on your daily routine, spied on, or being watched by someone loitering around your work or home

Obsession: Being monitored on or offline, cyberstalking, the ordering and cancelling of items on your behalf

Unwanted attention: Gifts being sent or left for you; unwanted messages, letters or phone calls. Even damage or graffiti being caused to your property

Repeated behaviour: This can be any nuisance or threatening behaviour, being approached, accosted or bullied repeatedly

Help and advice 

If you’re worried you’re being stalked keep a diary. It’s important to keep a diary of evidence as early as possible in the event that you one day need to report stalking or harassment to the police. You don’t have to have a diary of evidence to report either but it will help the police prove to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that you are being stalked or harassed.

Your diary should include the following columns:

  • Date and time
  • Location
  • What happened?
  • Any evidence?
  • Any police contact, actions or reference numbers
  • Impact of incident
  • Any changes you’ve made as a result of the contact
  • Any impact on children, family or others.

If you have been sent gifts you should put them in a plastic bag and store them safely somewhere as evidence. If the gift is perishable, such as flowers, take a picture. You should take screenshots of any digital messages as evidence too and keep them stored somewhere safe.

Paladin, the National Stalking Advisory Service has the following advice:

  • Trust yourself and your instincts
  • Report it as early as possible to the police and tell others what is happening
  • Get advice from Paladin or the Suzy Lamplugh Trust
  • Keep evidence of what’s happening, try writing a diary

If you need help:

Stalking Prevention Orders

Stalking Protection Orders (SPO) provide another tool for police forces nationally, as well as the courts, to help protect victims and improve their safety.

Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted behaviour that causes you to feel distressed or scared. It can be perpetrated by men or women.   The orders, introduced under the Stalking Protection Act 2019, enable early police intervention, pre-conviction, to address stalking behaviours before they become entrenched or escalate in severity. Under the new legislation, only the police can apply for the orders, meaning there is no pressure on a victim to make an application.  Applications are made to a Magistrates Court and if implemented, the respondent to the SPO must notify us of various details.

When in place, an order can require a person to stop carrying out specific actions, but importantly can also impose prohibitions and positive requirements, to further protect the victim and anyone connected to them, such as family or friends, from the risk of stalking. Under the Act, it is a criminal offence to breach the SPO or fail to comply with the requirements. The maximum sentence for a breach is five years imprisonment. 

Visit the Suzy Lamplugh Trust website for more information about Stalking Prevention Orders