Stalking and harassment

New stalking legislation

Stalking became a criminal offence on 25th November 2012. It includes repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and/or contacts on another in a manner that could be expected to cause distress and/or fear in any reasonable person.

Stalking is unwanted pursuit and can be carried out by a 'stranger' or by someone known to the victim. It can take many forms including:

  • contact at work
  • unwanted gifts
  • threats of suicide
  • texts
  • going through bins(for useful info)
  • following them
  • contacting family members – to isolate victim
  • setting up false accounts on the internet
  • damage to vehicles.

Stay safe and raise your awareness

As technology has advanced so too has the means by which perpetrators can target and stalk their victims. To mark National Stalking Awareness Day, Derbyshire Constabulary is hosting a digital stalking training event to give practitioners better knowledge and expertise to help protect victims and to gather evidence. A variety of supporting agencies will be at the event, including:

A focus will be on the existence of cyber stalking and ways of staying safe online.

Often incidents can be regarded as 'unremarkable' if seen as a one off. It is important recognise any patterns of behaviour. What might be perceived as in isolation behaviours might seem unremarkable but in the particular circumstance and with repetition, they take on a more sinister meaning.

Unwanted communications may include:

  • telephone calls
  • letters
  • emails
  • faxes
  • SMS text messages
  • sending or leaving unsolicited materials/gifts
  • graffiti
  • messages on social networking sites.

Unwanted intrusions include:

  • following
  • waiting for
  • spying on
  • approaching
  • accosting
  • going to a person's home.

As well as unwanted communication and intrusion, the stalker may engage in a number of associated behaviours including:

  • ordering or cancelling goods/services
  • making vexatious complaints (to legitimate bodies)
  • cyber stalking (use of the internet to facilitate the behaviour)
  • threats
  • property damage
  • violence.

Report it and tell others

It's still feared that victims are not coming forward and getting support. Stalking can have a devastating impact on the victims and if not tackled can escalate to violence. Help and support is available for those who have become a victim of stalking behaviour. There are also simple steps that everyone can take to better protect themselves and minimise the chances of becoming a victim...

Six golden rules if you are being stalked: 'REPORT'

  1. Report it and tell others. Report it to the police and ensure other people know about what is happening including your family, friends, neighbours, workplace, children’s nursery/school.
  2. Ensure you get good practical advice. Contact the National Stalking Helpline 0808 802 0300 or visit their website.
  3. Proactive evidence collection. Ensure you keep all messages/gifts preserving all the evidence. You can also film or video the stalker to collect evidence and if followed in a car take them to an area with lots of CCTV for example.
  4. Overview of what's happening - keep a diary. Log what is happening including time, date and details of what happened.
  5. Risk checklist - complete the 11 question checklist on stalking. If you think you are at risk, complete the stalking screening checklist
  6. Trust your instinct and never make contact with your stalker. Always trust your instinct and if you are frightened or worried call the police or go to safe place. Ensure you do not contact or respond to the stalker in any other way.

Those reporting offences can be assured that they will be taken seriously.

How do I report stalking and harassment?

Reports can be made directly to:

  • National Stalking Helpline by calling 0808 802 0300
  • the Police in an emergency by calling '999'
  • Derbyshire Constabulary for non-emergency matters on 101
  • a local agency such as The Advocate Team for Derby City on 07812 300927 and for Derbyshire County you can ring the Derbyshire Domestic Abuse helpline on 0800 0168 998.

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