Stalking is defined as “two or more incidents (causing
distress, fear or
alarm) of obscene or threatening unwanted letters
or phone calls, waiting or loitering around home or workplace,
following or watching”.
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 was introduced because
there was limited legal protection for victims who were
upset and frightened by a series of disturbing
incidents which fell short of being illegal.
‘Stalking’ was not specifically mentioned in the Act at that time,
but it was designed to, and does cover many forms of harassment,
including stalking and cyber
By November 2012, the government introduced two new laws -
specific to stalking offences which fall under the Harassment Act
1997. This new legislation not only gives the police
greater powers of entry to a stalker’s property,
so that evidence can be gained to corroborate a victim’s case but
also supports a victim who is experiencing lesser
or more serious stalking behaviour.
The biggest legislative change has been in stalking which causes
serious alarm or distress. A person is guilty of
an offence if it is perceived that they are using
threatening words, show abusive
behaviour or act in a threatening
“The offence of stalking or harassment using the internet and
Common forms of cyber stalking include sending repeated unwanted
messages, ordering goods and services on the victim’s behalf,
publishing private information of a damaging or embarrassing
nature, spreading false information, identity theft, encouraging
others to harass the victim and launching attacks against the
Harassment can take place on the internet and through the misuse
of email or social networking messages. This is sometimes
known as cyber stalking and can include the use of social
networking sites and chat rooms.
National Stalking Awareness Day – on 18 April
- exists to raise awareness about the crime of stalking. This
year’s message is ‘Know the Law, Use
the Law’. Currently the law is
slightly different in England and Wales, Scotland and
Northern Ireland but stalking behaviour is
against the law across the UK.
Facts about stalking
- Stalking is one of the most common types of intimate
- The most common perpetrator in incidents of stalking was a
partner or ex-partner
- 18.1% of women aged 16-59 and 9.4% of men aged 16-59 say they
have experienced stalking since the age of 16
There are many forms of harassment ranging from unwanted
attention from somebody seeking a romantic relationship to violent
Types of stalker
1. The rejected – who pursue
ex-partners, in the hope of reconciliation, for vengeance or
2. Intimacy seekers – who stalk
someone they believe that they love and who they think will
3. Incompetent suitors – who
inappropriately intrude on someone, usually seeking a date or brief
4. The resentful – who pursue
victims to take out revenge
5. The predatory – whose stalking
forms part of sexual offending
It is important that stalking behaviour is identified early and
acted upon but this relies upon the victim to trust their instincts
and recognise when someone’s behaviour is being intrusive or
threatening and is causing them to live in fear. But most
importantly, the victim needs to act quickly by contacting the
police so that action can be taken against their stalker. If
there is a pattern of harassing behaviour, police officers will
always seek to apprehend the stalker and hold them to account for
It is not necessary to warn the stalker in the
first instance or give them words of advice. Harassment is a crime
which is best tackled through prosecution. Cheshire Constabulary
will seek to support you throughout this process in partnership
with our multi-agency partners.
Stalkers can cause their victims serious and lasting physical
and mental trauma. Findings from a study carried out by the
Network for Surviving Stalking found the following:
- A third of victims said they had lost their job or relationship
or been forced to move because of the stalking
- 92% reported physical effects and 98% reported emotional
effects ranging from sleep disturbances, anger and distrust to
depression, self-harm and suicide attempts
- Of those questioned, half of the victims had changed their
telephone number, given up social activities, saw their performance
at work affected and a third of the victims had to relocate.
The most common forms of harassment are:
- Frequent, unwanted contact e.g. appearing at the home or
- Telephone calls, text messages or other contact such as via the
internet (i.e. social networking sites)
- Driving past the victim’s home or work
- Following or watching the victim
- Damaging the victim’s property
- Sending letters or unwanted gifts to the victim
- Burglary or robbery of the victim’s home, workplace, vehicle or
- Threats of harm to the victim and/or others associated with
them (including sexual violence and threats to kill)
- Harassment of people associated with the victim (e.g. family
members, partner, work colleagues)
- Physical and/or sexual assault of the victim and even
Other forms of stalking behaviour can be:
- Breaking into victim’s home
- Abusing victim’s pets
- Threatening to harm children
- Identity theft.
Stalkers are not always known to the victim, but in the vast
majority of cases there will be some association – either casual or
intimate – between the victim and their stalker. In most cases, the
victim and their stalker will previously have been in an intimate
- Do not engage with your stalker in any way – even if you are
trying to ‘placate’ them
- Talk to neighbours, friends, colleagues or your manager
about the harassment if you feel comfortable doing so. They may be
able to help by collecting further evidence on your behalf or by
putting protective measures in place
- Be aware of how much of your personal information is in the
public domain and take steps to protect your data
- Complete the Stalking Risk Checklist by going to www.stalkinghelpline.org/faq
and take it with you to the police
- Above everything, trust your instincts.
Am I at risk?
If you’re not sure if what is happening to you is stalking then
please take some time to look at the questions below:
- Are you very frightened?
- Has the person engaged in harassment before? (Involving you
and/or anyone else)
- Has the person ever destroyed or vandalised your property?
- Has the person turned up at work or home more than three times
- Has the person loitered around your home, workplace etc?
- Has the person made any threats of physical or sexual
- Has the person harassed any third party since the harassment
began? (e.g. friends, family, children, colleagues, partners or
- Has the person acted violently towards other people within the
current stalking incidents?
- Has the person persuaded other people to help him/her?
(Wittingly or unwittingly).
- Is the person known to be abusing drugs and/or alcohol?
- Is the person known to have been violent in the past? (Physical
If you’ve answered yes to any of the
questions above, this indicates you should take the person’s
behaviour towards you very seriously and contact the police
for support and advice.
If you’re frightened by someone’s behaviour towards you and feel
you’re in danger, call 999 now.