Report harassment and stalking
Harassment and stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention that makes you feel distressed, anxious or scared.
Harassment and stalking are illegal and are not something you should have to live with. We will take reports seriously.
There are powers police can use to help protect you if you are experiencing this behaviour, such as Stalking Protection Orders.
There are different types of harassment and stalking and anyone can be a victim.
Harassment is when unwanted behaviour has happened more than once and can include:
- bullying at school or in the workplace
- cyber stalking (using the internet to harass you)
- anti-social behaviour
- sending abusive text messages
- sending unwanted gifts
- unwanted phone calls, letters, emails or visits
Sexual harassment is if the unwanted behaviour:
- violates your dignity
- creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment (this includes online)
Examples of sexual harassment include:
- sexual comments, jokes or gestures
- staring or leering at your body
- using names like ’slut’ or ‘whore’
- unwanted sexual communications, like emails, texts, DMs
- sharing sexual photos or videos
- groping and touching
- someone exposing themselves
- pressuring you to do sexual things or offering you something in exchange for sex
Like harassment, stalking is repeated, unwanted behaviour.
Harassment becomes stalking when it is fixated and obsessive, causing fear of violence or serious alarm and distress.
Some examples of stalking include:
- regularly following you
- repeatedly going uninvited to your home
- checking your internet use, email or other electronic communication
- hanging around somewhere they know you often visit
- interfering with your property
- watching or spying on you
- identity theft (signing-up to services, buying things in your name)
Online stalking and harassment
Social networking sites, chat rooms, gaming sites and other forums are often used to stalk and harass someone, for example:
- to get personal information
- to communicate (calls, texts, emails, social media, creating fake accounts)
- damaging the reputation
- spamming and sending viruses
- tricking other internet users into harassing or threatening
- identity theft
- threats to share private information, photographs, copies of messages
Protecting yourself from harassment and stalking
If you, or someone you know, is being stalked or harassed, there are steps you can take to help keep you safe.
Talk to someone
The most important thing is to tell someone. If people know, they can help to keep you safe.
Keep a record of events
You do not need to keep a record of events in order to report it to the police, but if you do, it can help us and the courts to see everything that has been happening.
If you include how particular events made you feel, if will help to show the impact the behaviour is having.
Record each event as soon as possible afterwards and put the time and date. You can also:
- note details of any witnesses who may have seen or heard anything
- keep a record of how the person harassing you looked and details of their clothes or car
- keep messages or record any phone calls you receive
- use 1471 on the phone and write down the details of calls, including times and the telephone numbers (including unanswered calls)
- ask neighbours, friends and people you work with to record any details if they witness anything
Check your social media accounts
Make sure your personal details are not available to the public:
- make sure only your friends can see your social media posts, not the public
- check privacy settings on social networking sites and only give basic information
- Google yourself to check none of your details are available online
- do not use the same password for everything
- turn off the location setting on your phone
- check your tagging settings on social media
- keep your antivirus software up to date
- report harassment to website administrators
- if you think your smartphone or computer has been hacked, stop using it and take it to your mobile phone provider or computer expert for advice
If the person is already contacting you through social media, it is important not to block them as this could make the behaviour worse.
If you are receiving unwanted calls:
- do not answer the phone with your address or phone number
- if you don’t know the caller, don’t answer questions about yourself, no matter how honest they sound
- if you have voicemail, do not include your name or number in the message
- a voicemail message should never tell people that you are out or away
- if you are listed in any directories, give your initials and surname rather than your full name
- never show anger or fear over the phone, remain calm and confident
- do not change your phone number as this can make the behaviour worse
Report harassment and stalking
If you are being stalked or harassed, contact us:
- online — fill in the report harassment, stalking or threats form
- by phone — call 101
- in person — visit a police station
If you feel a person’s behaviour is putting you in immediate danger, call 999 straight away.