Harassment & Stalking
What is harassment?
Harassment is a course of conduct which causes the victim to feel alarmed, harassed, anxious and distressed. A “course of conduct” means that the harassment needs to be repeated, not just a one off incident.
There are many different ways in which someone can be harassed. For example:
- an individual spreading untrue rumours about you in your local area;
- somebody sending you unwanted communications such as text messages or making repeated phones calls to you;
- following your social media accounts and making unwarranted public statements about you; or
- physically following you or driving past or waiting outside your property, making you feel intimidated.
By its very nature, harassment is incredibly upsetting for the victim, particularly where the harassment has been going on for a long time. Dealing with harassment claims quickly and sensitively is therefore very important and that is where we can help.
What is stalking?
Stalking is a specific type of harassment where someone targets you and your life, tries to find out as much as possible as they can about you, and makes you feel like you are being harassed.
A typical stalking situation is where an ex-partner will not leave you alone, and makes extended efforts to keep in touch with you and find out everything about your life without them, particularly if you have a new partner in your life.
There are national stalking organisations who can help with this specific issue, and it can also be included in a civil claim, which is set out in more detail bellow.
Should I involve the police?
In some cases, the harassment or stalking will be so serious that we will advise you to speak to the police as well as instructing us, if you have not already done so.
In those circumstances, you will be entitled to claim monetary compensation from your harasser using our services, as well as the police dealing with them via criminal proceedings. Criminal and civil proceedings can run in conjunction with each other, which can be an effective way of putting as much pressure as possible upon your harasser.
The criminal justice system can impose remedies for you such a non-molestation orders, which can be a very effective way to get the harassment to stop, at minimal cost to you. However, this does not provide you with any financial compensation.
It is therefore usually a good idea to report the harassment to the police, even if they do not feel the case is serious enough to take immediate action, as well as pursuing a civil claim for damages.
How do I prove harassment?
In order to bring a claim for harassment, it is very important that you preserve the evidence of your harassment as far as you possibly can. There are steps that you can take, as follows:
- any emails or text messages should not be deleted, no matter how distressing they are;
- any messages or comments about you which appear on social media should be captured in screenshots as quickly as possible, as once they are deleted they are almost impossible to retrieve;
- if your harasser is regularly appearing outside your home or at your place of work, you should consider installing CCTV to capture what they are doing; and
- it is also very important to keep a diary of the harassing events, in chronological order, so that you can refer back to this at a later date if necessary.
Claiming for harassment
If you want to bring a claim for harassment, this may be because you simply want the harassment to stop, or because you want to claim financial compensation.
The first step is to send a letter of claim to your harasser, setting out their incidents of harassment against you and threatening to sue if they do not stop and pay you compensation. In some cases, this letter alone will be sufficient to stop the harassment. However, in other cases, the harassment can continue or even escalate, and you may want to start court proceedings.
The claim for harassment is very likely to include a request for an injunction, financial compensation for the harm caused to you and costs. If your case is successful, and your harasser is made subject to an injunction, if they breach it by harassing you again, they can be sent to prison.
What should I do next?
If you are being harassed or stalked, you don't need to put up with it. The law will intervene to stop the stalking or harassment happening, but there are steps that you need to take first, to make the harassment stop.
In the first instance, you should contact us for a no obligation discussion about how we can help and about whether should involve the police in your matter.