Stalking is a pattern of repeat and persistent unwanted behaviour that is intrusive and engenders fear. It is when one person becomes obsessed with another and the attention is unwanted. Threats may not be made, but you may still be scared. Even if there is no threat stalking is still a crime.

Stalking is one of the most frequently experienced forms of abuse. There are many misconceptions about what stalking is about. It is not romantic. It is about fixation and obsession. It is a crime. It destroys lives.

Who is at risk from stalking?

Anyone is at risk from stalking.

Who is a potential stalker?

Stalking can be perpetrated by men or women, of any age. Ex-partners, acquaintances, or strangers, stalking can be perpetrated by anyone.

Under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 it is illegal for a person to pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another and which he knows or ought to know amounts to harassment of another.

The Act also refers to the specific offence of stalking, which may include acts such as:

  • Following a person
  • Contacting, or attempting to contact a person by any means
  • Publishing a statement or other material that is about a person or claims to be written by the person
  • Monitoring a person’s use of the internet, email, or any other form of electronic communication
  • Loitering in a public or private place
  • Interfering with a person’s property
  • Watching or spying on a person

Section 4a of the Act refers to stalking involving fear of violence or serious alarm or distress, which may include:

  • Causing the victim to believe that violence will be used against them
  • Causing serious alarm or distress which has a substantial adverse effect on the victim’s day-to-day activities

Stalking is also against the law in Scotland and Northern Ireland


If you think you are in immediate danger call 999 and ask for the police.


Paladin, the national stalking advocacy service, recommends taking the following action if you think you are being stalked:

Report it as early as possible to the police and tell others what is happening – including family, friends, colleagues, neighbours, workplace, and children’s nursery or school

Ensure you get good practical advice – contact us or call the National Stalking Helpline

Proactive evidence collection – keep all the evidence including messages, gifts, letters, emails, text messages and voice mails. If followed in a car, drive to an area with lots of CCTV.

Overview of what is happening – keep a diary including dates, times and details of every incident.

Risk Checklist – complete the S-DASH 11 screening questions to assess your situation.

Trust your instincts – if you are frightened or worried call the police or go to a safe place. Don’t worry that your case is too insignificant or not serious enough – it is common for victims to wait until after many incidents before they feel able to report.

If you fear you are being stalked:

Tighten up security at home, to and from home, and at work.

Vary your daily routine.

Be careful when giving out personal details when on the phone, dealing with credit card services, social networking sites and people you meet.

Tell people what is happening to you.

 

Google yourself to check your digital footprint frequently

Change passwords often and do not use the same password for everything. Use two-step verification to make your passwords more secure.

Check privacy settings on social networking sites and limit the amount of information you put on.

Be aware of geo-location and tagging on social networking sites and ensure that this is disabled on your smartphone

Keep your anti-virus software up-to-date.

Report stalking to website administrators.

If you believe that your computer or smartphone has been hacked or compromised, stop using them immediately and take them to a specialist such as your mobile phone provider or computer repair experts for advice.

If you want to report it, what options do you have? 

Stalking is against the law and you can report it to the police by calling 101 (in any situation where you feel unsafe or in immediate danger you should dial 999).

To help provide evidence make sure you keep a diary of every incident, and tape any phone calls – it may help to use this Stalking and Harassment Incident Diary Template

Take screenshots of any emails, messages or phone calls and save copies of them.

If you can, and feel safe to do so, take photographs or video your stalker.

The police should take stalking seriously but there may be some cases in which you feel that your report has been dismissed because there hasn’t been physical violence, or that it hasn’t been handled satisfactorily. The National Stalking Helpline has advice on what to do if you feel the police have not understood the seriousness of the situation.

What if you don’t want to report to the police?

If you feel unsure about reporting, you can contact Paladin on 0203 866 4107 or at info@paladinservice.co.uk. They will listen to your concerns, risk assess your case, advise you on your safety options and can also provide advice about reporting and help advise you, whether you choose to do so or not.

If you want to take civil action without involving the police you can obtain an injunction (i.e. an order from a court that the person stop doing the acts that amount to stalking or harassment) and damages for anxiety and any financial loss you have suffered.

If the stalker breaches the injunction (in other words, does something which the court has ordered him/her not to do) that is either:

a) A criminal offence — for which they can be arrested by the Police, prosecuted by the CPS and imprisoned by a criminal court for up to 5 years, or

b) A contempt of court — for which you can apply to the civil court for them to be imprisoned for up to 2 years

You decide which of these routes to take.

You may be eligible for support with legal costs through legal aid – you can find out more about this from the Citizens Advice Bureau.

Paladin’s trained specialist ISACs (Independent Stalking Advocacy Caseworkers) are available to ensure that high risk victims of stalking are supported and that a co-ordinated community response is developed locally to keep victims safe.

Website: www.paladinservice.co.uk : a self-referral form and a referral form for professionals can be downloaded from the website. Telephone: 0203 866 4107. Email: info@paladinservice.co.uk

You can also call the National Stalking Helpline: 0808 802 0300 (Weekdays 9.30 – 16.00 except Wednesday afternoons).

You can email the National Stalking Helpline on: advice@stalkinghelpline.org

Action Scotland Against Stalking www.scotlandagainststalking.com

Network for Surviving Stalking www.nss.org.uk

Protection Against Stalking www.protectionagainststalking.org

Further tools specifically about digital and online stalking are available here:

Digital Stalking http://www.digital-trust.orgStay Safe Online

Facebook Safety Tools

Safety and Privacy on Facebook: A Guide for Survivors of Abuse

Privacy and Safety on Facebook

Women’s Aid Guidance on Digital and Cyberstalking

Stalking Investigations

This information was compiled in collaboration with Paladin the National Stalking Advisory Service.