Stalking includes intimidating behaviour whether carried out in person or by phone calls, text messages, the internet or social media or other methods and can be very frightening and intrusive.
Harassment Law in the UK
Stalking as well as being a criminal offence, is also a form of harassment, which is a criminal offence, and which also can be the subject of civil proceedings in the family or civil courts. Protection against harassment and stalking is provided by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Harassment is unwanted behaviour, which is offensive, intimidating or humiliating.
The problem of stalking and harassment is receiving increasing cover in the media and there have been many high-profile cases due to the level of threat and fear that such behaviour can result in. The level of personal information that is available on-line has increased vulnerability. Stalking and harassment can include unwanted contact of any nature, whether you are being stalked by an ex-partner or any individual or whether the perpetrator persistently attempts to contact you whether directly, in writing, on social media or by any other means.
Cyber Harassment UK Law
Harassment and cyber stalking can also be carried out through other means including defamatory statements made about you to others or published about you and can include defamatory on -line posts or Tweets. If the perpetrator persists in their behaviour, including continuing to contact or approach you when you have made it clear that you do not want to have any contact with them, then that is likely to amount to criminal conduct as well as conduct that can be the subject of action in the civil and family courts.
Your first step is to inform your local police force and to ask them to investigate and take action.
You can obtain further protection by means of an application to the courts for orders forbidding the perpetrator from having any further contact with you, including orders that they are not to enter within a certain distance of where you live or work.
Persistence in stalking can mean therefore that the perpetrator, if convicted of a criminal offence or found to be in contempt of court, following breach of court orders, can be subject to imprisonment, suspended sentence or fine.
How we can help
At Fletcher Day, our harassment solicitors in London have considerable experience in advising and acting for the victims of stalking and/or harassment. We can advise on the legal options for you, on the terms of the potential order to apply for, on enforcement and further action if court orders are breached following service of orders on the perpetrator.
If you have any questions for our harassment lawyers, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 020 7766 5260 , fill in our ‘How can we help’ form or get in touch.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I obtain a court order against the person stalking or harassing me without them knowing in advance?
Yes. Where the level of threat and concern is substantial, an application can be made to court for the application to be heard without advance notice being given to the Defendant. If the court is prepared to make such an order without notice, the order will be on an interim basis. After service of the order, the Defendant can return to court to oppose but there will, in the meantime, be the protection from any interim order which will include a Power of Arrest to the police.