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Stalking and stalking involving fear of violence are criminal offences in England and Wales under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. They carry maximum sentences of five years’ imprisonment.
Stalking is different from harassment as it involves fixation and includes repeated attempts to impose unwarranted communications and/or contact on another person in a manner that could be expected to cause distress and/or fear in any reasonable individual.
Stalking may be domestic abuse related, but could also affect those who have not had an intimate relationship with their ‘stalker’ and in some cases, are complete strangers.
Many victims will have suffered between 70 and 100 incidents before making the initial call to the police.
The stalking can also affect people connected to the victim. For example, the stalker may involve third parties to upset the victim, obtain information about them, or punish those perceived as helping or shielding the victim.
Technology and social networking sites can help facilitate stalking and harassment, enabling stalkers to impersonate others online or to send or post hostile messages to their victim.
Stalking can be life changing and affect victims’ psychological and physical well-being, irrespective of whether they are physically harmed or not. Some examples of unwanted communications may include telephone calls, letters, emails, faxes, SMS text messages, sending or leaving unsolicited materials/gifts or messages on social networking sites
Unwanted intrusions include following, waiting for, or 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:
National Stalking Helpline
0300 636 0300
Protection Against Stalking (PAS)
Network for Surviving Stalking (NSS)
Suzy Lamplugh Trust
020 7091 0014
National Stalking Advocacy Service
Digital Stalking advice
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