NAME IT. REPORT IT. STOP IT.
Stalking is a crime .
We can assure you that most police officers want to help, but they sometimes have not had access to the tools and training needed. They may not understand how frightening it is when it is happening to you. You may be told that unless there is physical violence or threats to harm made it is not so serious, we know that this is not the case.
Unsure if you are a victim of stalking?
Consider the the widely used acronym FOUR that can help identify stalking. Is the behaviour fixated, obsessive, unwanted & repeated?
If you are experiencing stalking, please do not suffer in silence
Paladin provides advice to all individuals of stalking that contact our service. Survivors can contact us directly or be referred via professionals. If you are in danger call 999!
Our 6 Golden Rules:
Report it as early as possible to the police and tell others what is happening
Ensure you get good practical advice
Proactive evidence collection - keep all the evidence
Overview of what is happening - keep a diary
Risk Checklist - complete the Stalking Risk and Needs screening questions
Trust your instinct
Are you aged between 16 and 24 and think you are being stalked?
If what's happening in your life has left you feeling scared or uncomfortable as the person won't stop, it might be time to speak to someone and get some advice about it.
Our Advice for
No matter if you are a victim of stalking or a friend; trust your instincts and stay safe.
Reporting Stalking or Harassment?
We know the impcat of stalking can be long lasting and devastating. It can prevail every aspect of your life, leaving you doubting yourself. It can make you hypervigilant not quite sure when you are safe. Isolated from family and friends as despite trying to help they may underestimate the risks or the impact it has.
You may have been told to ignore it and it will go away, that it's just a coincidence. That no threats have been so there's so nothing can be done, that it's not serious, it's just phone calls or text messages or unwanted gifts. You may have been told you should be flattered or it's romantic.
We know that this is not the case. Stalking can be difficult for people and professionals to recognise as often the individual acts appear non-threatening or insignificant. However, the law is quite clear.
We know victims will experience on average over 100 incidents before reporting to the Police.
If you feel you are a victim of stalking read through our 6 Golden Rules and go through some of the advice below on how you can report to the police and increase your safety.
If you feel you need further support please complete the referral
Our 6 Golden Gules
Effective Gathering of Evidence
Practical Steps to increase Safety
Cyber Safety/Stay safe online
S-Dash Risk Assessment Checklist
Stalking is one of the most frequently experienced forms of abuse and can terrify victims and escalate to rape and murder. It is often misinterpreted and misunderstood to be romantic and complimentary to its victims, but stalking is about fixation and obsession.
Stalking is a serious crime and can destroy the lives of those victimised; it therefore needs to be treated with the seriousness that it deserves in order to better protect victims and address perpetrators behaviour.
Stalking is different to harassment as it relates to fixation and obsession rather than nuisance behaviour. In order to define stalking more formally, Paladin has defined stalking as; “A pattern of unwanted fixated and obsessive behaviour involving the intrusive following, contacting or monitoring of the victim causing fear of violence and serious alarm or distress”.
People are most likely to be stalked by an ex-partner, but anyone can be a stalker and anyone can be stalked.
Stalking and Criminal Law
As of 25th November 2012, amendments have been made to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 which makes stalking a specific offence. These amendments were made under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
There are now two sections that deal with stalking, 2A and 4A. Section 2A labels stalking as a criminal offence for the first time in English and Wales Law. Section 4A deals with stalking that has caused fear of violence OR serious distress. Serious distress is behaviour that causes a 'substantial adverse effect' on the victim's day to day activity.
Examples of the kind of behaviours that stalking can consist of are provided in the amendments and apply to 2A and 4A. The list includes: following, contacting, publishing material relating to the victim, monitoring, loitering, interfering with property and watching or spying. This is NOT an exhaustive list.
Types of Stalking Behaviour(s)
If behaviours are looked at in isolation, they may appear to be unharmful and some not criminal. However, in the context of stalking, especially with repetition, they can take on a more sinister meaning.
Unwanted communications may include; telephone calls, letters, emails, texts, direct messages, gifts, graffiti, small deposits into bank accounts with a message in the reference section and social media messages and status’.
Unwanted intrusions include (but not limited to); following/loitering, waiting for, spying on, approaching, accosting and going to a person’s home.
In addition to unwanted communication and intrusion, the stalker may engage in a number of associated behaviours including ordering or cancelling goods/services, making vexatious complaints (to legitimate bodies), cyberstalking, threats, property damage and violence.
How to Help
- Believe them and take them seriously.
- Ensure you listen carefully and record everything you are told.
- Record the extent of the victim’s perception of risk of harm.
- Take disclosures of threats to kill seriously.
- If there has been a relationship ask the victim to complete a DASH risk assessment and 11 stalking screening questions.
- If there has not been a relationship ask the victim to complete the 11 risk screening questions.
- Ask if there is a restraining order.
- Ensure the victims keep a diary of all stalking incidents, retain all messages, gifts etc.
- Seek specialist advice from your local police force. Each force has a Single Point of Contact or other units if required such as the Public Protection Unit.
- Make a referral to Paladin.
- Think it any less serious if there has been no physical violence.
- Send the person away believing that it is not a serious or say that they are ‘lucky’ to receive this level of attention.
- Tell them to change their phone number. This will not stop the behaviour – they will find another means of contact and/or physically approach the victim.
- Mediate or suggest that the victim talk/meet with the stalker to resolve issues.
- Offer Words of Advice to the stalker.
The context and detail of the behaviours are crucial to understanding the risks posed by a stalker. Stalking can be a very high-risk indicator of serious harm to the victim.
Ensure you complete the S-DASH risk assessment and pay particular attention to the 11 additional questions on stalking, providing details for your answer in the comments box:
1. Are you very frightened?
2. Is there previous domestic abuse or harassment history?
3. Have they vandalised or destroyed property?
4. Have they turned up unannounced more than three times a week?
5. Have they followed you or loitered near their home or workplace?
6. Have they made threats of physical or sexual violence?
7. Have they harassed any third party since the harassment began?
8. Have they acted violently to anyone else during the stalking incident?
9. Have they engaged other people to help him/her?
10. Have they had problems in the past year with drugs (prescription or other), alcohol or mental health leading to problems in leading a normal life?
11. Have they ever been in trouble with the police or has a criminal history for violence or anything else?
Paladin Referral Forms
Supporting Loved Ones Experiencing Stalking
Most victims of stalking talk to a friend, family member or someone they know and trust about the situation before pursuing any sort of professional or legal help. If a friend or family member talks to you, your response makes a huge difference in if they feel validated and/or seek professional help.
These tips can help you respond:
Believe and validate victims.
- Don’t question or minimise what they tell you.
- For example, don’t say “well maybe they just miss you” or “they probably didn’t realise it was bothering you.”
- Instead, say “that sounds scary” or “I can see why that would be frightening.”
Focus on the offender’s actions, not the victim’s responses.
- Even well-intentioned friends can accidentally blame victims.
- Don’t ask questions such as “why did you respond to that text message?”
- Focus on the stalker’s actions, for instance, “It is not right that they keep texting you.”
- Nothing the victim did justifies the stalker’s behaviour — Remind victims that this is not their fault.
Support the victim and encourage them to seek help and document the stalking.
- Thank them for trusting you enough to have the conversation.
- Help the victim think through options – like learning more about stalking on the Paladin website, downloading our Incident Diary Template (below) or calling the police. — some victims may or may not want to act, please respect their choices.
Respect the victim’s privacy.
- Do not share any information about the victim with the stalker.
- Ask the victim who else they have told and respect their wishes about who to share this information with.
- Refer them to Paladin to make an individual safety plan and learn more about stalking.
- Stalking cases can last a long time and can be very draining - your loved one’s reactions, wants, needs, and feelings might change over time.
- Continue to check in and be a source of support. Ask questions like, "How can I help you feel safer?"
- Ask the victim how they feel the safest being contacted and use that medium to contact them. Some stalkers monitor victims’ social media accounts, phones, and/or other forms of digital communication.