Stalking, cyber stalking and harassment can take place at school, within the work place and within Family relationships. At Watson Ramsbottom we can help in all of the above situations to achieve an end to the stalking behaviour and financial or criminal redress if appropriate. We are able to put clients in touch with professional support agencies and IT experts who can help obtain evidence in cyber stalking cases. Often cyber stalking, stalking and harassment is not taken seriously by the police and Crown Prosecution Service and Watson Ramsbottom can advocate on your behalf to ensure not only that charges are brought where possible but that the correct charges are brought resulting in more severe sentencing and protection for victims.
In addition to this Watson Ramsbottom can assist in obtaining protective Orders on behalf of victims and where appropriate obtaining monetary compensation.
If you are experiencing stalking or harassment you should ensure that you keep a diary of the behaviour and also the affect that the behaviour is having on you as this will be relevant in terms of which criminal charges are brought. It is also important that the behaviour is reported to the police and that your friends, family and work colleagues are aware of the situation as they may notice things that you do not. Do not destroy any evidence and think about ways in which you can gather evidence. Ensure you receive expert advice from Watson Ramsbottom and the support services such as The National Stalking helpline – 0808 802 0300 and Paladin – The National Stalking Advocacy Service – 0207 840 8960. Finally never make contact or respond to your stalker and ensure that the Police and Support Services carry out a stalking risk assessment in relation to your case.
Stalking – the law.
Stalking is not defined within the legislation although examples would be:
- Following a person
- Contacting or attempting to contact a person by any means
- Publishing any statement or other material relating to that person or purporting to be from that person
- Monitoring a person’s use of the internet, email or other communication
- Loitering in any place
- Interfering with any property in possession of a person
- Watching or spying on a person
- Publishing or threats to publicise intimate photographs (“revenge porn”)
Stalking has been a criminal offence since November 2012 and the legislation is contained within the protection from Harassment Act 1997 (as amended).
In order to bring charges for stalking you need to show a course of conduct (a minimum of 2 examples) which amount to harassment (section 2) or stalking (section 2a) – the maximum prison sentence in relation to these offences is 6 months.
In addition to this if you can show a fear of violence (section 4) and in particular stalking “which causes serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on the victims usual day to day activities” (section 4a) – there is a maximum prison sentence of 5 years.
Even if the defendant is not convicted it is possible for the criminal Court to make a protective Restraining Order to protect the victim.
There are various Civil Orders which can be obtained to protect victims whether or not the police have been involved depending on their relationship to the stalker. It may be possible to obtain a Non Molestation Order against the perpetrator (see domestic violence section).
If you have not been in a relationship with the stalker or are related to them then it is likely that a Protection from Harassment Act Order will be the appropriate civil Order.
It is possible to obtain a civil Order preventing further stalking and harassment potentially with an unlimited duration. The Order can also exclude a perpetrator from an area around your home or place of work for example . We can advise further in relation to this and assist in drafting the paperwork, attending Court and obtaining the relevant Order which will need to be served upon the perpetrator.
For more information regarding domestic violence related issues – see the Domestic Abuse Lawyer Blog written by Rachel Horman