It’s never too late – get your first, second or booster dose of the Covid-19 vaccine at local walk-in clinics.
There is no single definition for either stalking or harassment. Stalking and harassment are similar but different forms of VAWG and so have traditionally been considered together in legislation. However, new stalking offences were created in 2012 to bring stalking within the umbrella of harassment legislation.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) considers harassment to be “repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and contact upon a victim in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person.”
The Crime Survey for England and Wales defines stalking as: “One or more incidents (causing distress, fear or alarm) of receiving obscene or threatening unwanted letters, emails, text messages or phone calls, having had obscene or threatening information about them placed on the internet, waiting or loitering around home or workplace, following or watching, or interfering with or damaging personal property by any person, including a partner or family member”
Harassment in the context of VAWG includes:
Stalking is considered as an aggravated form of harassment and includes:
The impact of stalking on victims is varied and depends on the individual circumstances of the person being stalked. Impacts can be wide ranging and affect a person’s physical and mental health as well as their work and social lives. These include:
Work and school
As of November 2012, amendments to the Protection from Harassment Act under Section 111 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, made stalking a criminal offence. This means that any stalking after 25 November 2012 is dealt with under the new legislation. Any offences before that date will be dealt with as ‘harassment’ under Section 2 and 4.
Section 2A stalking
To prove a Section 2A it needs to be shown that a perpetrator pursued a course of conduct which amounts to harassment and that the particular harassment can be described as stalking behaviour.
Stalking is not legally defined but the amendments include a list of example behaviours which are following, contacting/attempting to contact, publishing statements or material about the victim, monitoring the victim (including online), loitering in a public or private place, interfering with property, watching or spying
This is a non-exhaustive list which means that behaviour which is not described above may also be seen as stalking
A course of conduct is two or more incidents as it is for harassment.
Section 4A stalking
Section 4A stalking involves the fear of violence or serious alarm or distress
Serious alarm and distress is not defined but can include behaviour which causes the victim to suffer emotional or psychological trauma or have to change the way they live their life
There is also a route for civil remedy for stalking under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. An injunction can be obtained and damages for anxiety and financial loss applied for. Breach of an injunction is considered either as a criminal offence (whereby the Police and CPS can charge the person stalking with a maximum sentence of five years) or contempt of court (whereby the victim can apply to the civil court with a maximum sentence of two years).
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, prohibits harassment. It was always intended to tackle stalking as well according to the Government, but the Act was designed to tackle any form of persistent behaviour that causes someone alarm or distress.
Section 1 of the Act provides that:
A person must not pursue a course of conduct— (a) which amounts to harassment of another, and (b) which he/she knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of the other.
Section 7 provides that:
‘references to harassment include alarming the person or causing the person distress’ and that this ‘course of conduct’ must have happened on at least two occasions.
Under the 1997 Act there are two key offences:
Section 2: deals with conduct that amounts to harassment of another
Section 4: covers situations where the victims fears that violence would be used against them.
If you are in immediate risk call 999 or 101 for the Police
The National Stalking Helpline: 0800 802 0300
National Stalking Advocacy Service: 0207 840 8960