Stalking is a form of harassment and describes a pattern of persistent, repeated instances of unwanted contact, not only limited to contact in person such as following their victim or going to their home. It can include telephone calls and text messages, letters and notes, contact using social networking sites and websites, emails, spreading damaging lies, graffiti, sending gifts, contacting the victim’s friends and family, making contact with the victim’s workplace etc.
Perpetrators of stalking are usually ex-partner’s of their victim. Perpetrators can still be guilty of stalking if they have children with the victim. Most perpetrators are male, most victims are female. Stalking can exists between friends/acquaintances. Stalking occurs within every group in society, irrespective of age, ethnicity, religion, marital status, lifestyle etc.
Stalking is a criminal offence. In 2012 two new stalking offences were added to the Protection of Harassment Act 1997:
- ‘Stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress’
As with all long-term abuse or crime, a court requires supporting evidence. Durham Constabulary recommends keeping a record of events:
- Keep a record of what happened, where and when you were followed or telephoned, or when you received post or email messages
- Keep phone messages, texts, relevant letters, objects used in communications and any social media communications
- Details of people who may have seen these events
- Write down information as soon as possible when events are still fresh in your mind
- Tell the police if any neighbours or others saw or heard what happened
- Record how the suspect looked or sounded - what they were wearing and the make, number plate of any involved car
- Adjust privacy settings on websites and smart phones, keep personal data safe, change passwords regularly and install appropriate anti virus/spyware software
- Avoid contacting or confronting the offender and do not attempt to deal with the situation yourself
- Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.
To report a case of stalking or for advice on the subject, contact the following:
Protection against Stalking: 0300 636 0300
Victim Support: 0845 303 0900
National stalking helpline: 0808 802 0300
Network for Surviving Stalking: 07501 752 741
Durham Constabulary: 101