Although often the subject of fictional dramas, domestic abuse and stalking are very real issues with figures showing that 11,889 stalking and harassment prosecutions were started in 2016/2017. The actual number of incidents is actually likely to be significantly higher as many incidents will not be reported. Whilst a stalker can be a stranger to you, it is far more likely to be someone you know with 71% of the prosecuted incidents being related to domestic abuse.

The breakdown of a relationship is a very difficult time. When a relationship comes to an end, people will generally go through a grieving process and the range of emotions that go with that. They may be angry or having trouble accepting that the relationship is over or want to try and control you and the decisions you make. The separation may also result in various other issues needing to be resolved such as finances or the arrangements for the children, which can further heighten the tension levels for all as the future becomes uncertain.

Stalking can be defined as persistent and unwanted attention that makes you feel pestered and harassed. It includes behaviour that happens two or more times, directed at or towards you by another person, which causes you to feel alarmed or distressed or to fear that violence might be used against you.

That attention can take many forms and can include things that might not seem obviously sinister such as;

  • sending flowers, letters, cards or presents
  • following you, turning up at your place of work or home uninvited
  • persistent phone calls or texts
  • contacting people who know you to get information about you,

It can also escalate and include more obviously concerning behaviour such as

  • manipulative behaviour such as threatening to commit suicide
  • telling lies about you to others to weaken your support network or undermine your employment.

There is also the risk that escalation can result in violence or threats of violence with damage to property and physical assaults which can and have historically resulted in murder.

If you think that you are being stalked then it is important to get help and we would most definitely recommend that you keep a diary as this will allow you to make a record of all incidents and is likely to be crucial evidence in helping to get it to stop.

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 introduced the crime of Harassment. This made it an offence to pursue a course of conduct causing alarm or distress or putting a person in fear of violence. In 2012 the Government changed the law, introducing two new offences covering stalking and providing further options to assist in prosecutions. These provisions allow the criminal courts to punish a person found guilty of an offence but also allow the criminal court to make a restraining order which can impose controls upon the accused for example preventing them from contacting the victim. Such an order can be made if the court considers it appropriate whether or not the person has been found guilty of the crime. More recently in a bid to further help victims of stalking the government have expressed an intention to introduce a new Stalking Protection Order which is intended to protect victims from unwanted attention and may be obtained without a prosecution for an offence unlike a restraining order. Furthermore, it has been announced that those committing offences will also be facing tougher sentences in future.

It is also possible to take action against someone in the civil courts even if they have not been convicted of an offence as an application can be made under the Protection from Harrassment Act 1997 for an injunction ordering the person harassing you to stop. In the event that the person harassing you is an “associated person” such as an ex partner then an application can be made to the court for a non molestation order under the Family Law Act 1996 which is an order which forbids your ex partner from using or threatening violence, harassment, intimidation or pestering you.

In the event that the ex partner fails to stop then they will be committing a criminal offence and can be sent to prison.

At Breeze and Wyles Solicitors Ltd, our experienced team of family solicitors have significant experience in dealing with problems involving stalking, harassment and domestic abuse. Karen Johnson, our joint head of department is an accredited domestic abuse specialist with over 15 years experience in helping male and female clients who had or were suffering domestic abuse and harassment including victims of rape, psychological and physical abuse, controlling and manipulative behaviour. With her help, those people were able to end the abuse, protect themselves from further incidents and ensure outcomes with regards to children or finances that allowed them to move forward with their lives in safety.

Our qualified solicitors are able to offer appointments at our offices in Bishops Stortford, Enfield and Hertford as well as appointments via telephone or skype from as little as £50 + vat. For more information call us on 01992 558411. Or contact us here: