IMPORTANT : REQUEST THE DASH FORM WHEN 1ST TIME REPORTING TO POLICE SO THEY CAN ASSESS YOUR RISK
One of the things that can make it difficult for police and others to prove harassment and stalking, is the smaller constant incidents, which don’t appear much when on their own, but when added together are a huge intrusion on the persons life, ultimately instilling fear. They will always stalk when you are likely to be on your own, so unfortunately, you have to try and capture evidence yourself at the time if possible, or dial 999 if in danger. Ongoing contact attempts or intimidation, must be logged, recorded and copied. Helping the PSNI to see the bigger picture can make it much easier to deal with the offender’s behaviour.
Initial Stages & Formal Request to Stop
Stalking does not stop at one or two offences, so time saving advice would be to record everything, including time and witnesses in a specific diary on the date it happens. PSNI research has quoted that it can take upto 100 incidences before a victim will report this. It is likely you may feel foolish as these are small incidences, or your supports and people you know may be targeted also, but when linked together, this is intimidation and stalking. Remember stalkers will not use one big act, as this will evidence their criminal behaviour and bring arrest. Following a break up, and the awareness that a person is being persistent on contacting you, causing you distress, explain no more than once, ” Please desist from any further attempts of unwanted contact. I want this to stop as of now, and will log any future attempts as evidence”. Ideally send this request through email or text, ensuring the stalker’s full mobile number is visible, screen shot for evidence, and then block them. SAVE EVERYTHING.
The majority of stalkers will use anything they can to get you to meet them, especially if they have been cautioned or face prosecution, and will typically claim suicidal feelings. Remember they are well versed in the legal system and how to avoid being arrested, and are experienced in different tactics to ensure they keep unwanted contact. It is vital you recognise that this is not a time to be empathetic and you must ignore all requests to meet from the time you asked for contact to be stopped. It is not your responsibility to keep someone safe who is causing you distress, and is purely a manipulation tactic. This is used to trick you into meeting them and to evidence your allegations are false, preventing prosecution.
First Time Reporting
Record any further attempts to contact you, as he/she may persist and create many new email accounts, buying other SIM cards, and when it reaches three, take your evidence to the local PSNI station along with your original request to stop. The police will complete a DASH risk form with you also for first time reporting, or when it becomes more sinister. This is not something to take lightly as the stalking behaviour may escalate, and the earlier you start evidence gathering and police reporting, the better. Lily Allen experienced a seven year campaign. REPORT EVERYTHING NO MATTER HOW TRIVIAL AT THE TIME IT HAPPENS!
- Keep a log of events, writing down the date, time, location and details of what happened. A diary is a great way to capture this, entered on the date it happened. Include information about any other witnesses who will evidence for you. Witnesses try not to get involved or may be fearful of the person doing this to you, so don’t take this personally. They too are afraid.
- Keep all letters, gifts, cards, including envelopes and note the date of receipt if its not on it. Don’t tamper or write on them, and photocopy if you need to write on the copy.
- Keep all phone and text messages, emails and screen shot social media entries relating to this behaviour or defamation of character, as this may be needed in court. You can screen shot on your smart phone also. Look up YouTube instructions on your phone make, on how to do this, and practice before you need to.
- Try and get ‘evidence’ of any events that occur at your home or place of work, using your camera phone, without aggravating your stalker. Remember they do not like to be exposed so you have to be careful to not appear a threat to this.
- Log any silent calls also. The PSNI can send a trace request to your network provider if this happens more than a few times. If you are receiving silent, threatening land phone calls contact BT Malicious Callers Bureau or your line provider. Again, keep dates and times of calls through their IPN.
- Should numerous email addresses be used screen shot your blocked senders list, and print any emails received, regardless of content. DO NOT DELETE, no matter how frightened you are as this is much needed evidence to bring to the PSNI. Name changed emails can be traced also. Include the email source located on the top and bottom of printed emails.
- Ensure all logged PSNI incidences relating to your case are linked together, and this can be done by checking with your reporting officer , and/or calling OCMT on 02890650222, who are very helpful.
If Stalking Persists
Your case is likely to end up in a court if the stalking persists, and this is why you need to find a solicitor. There are two routes:
1. The criminal route which is taken by the PSNI through to the PPS, (Public Prosecution Service). Unfortunately prosecution statistics for harassment are very low in Northern Ireland and this is what currently also covers the crime of stalking. That’s why it is vital to keep a log of all reports so you have a history, and pattern of repeated unwanted contact. Stalking is not taken as serious as needed by the police as psychological injury is hard to evidence, and hard evidence is needed.
2. The civil system which is finding and paying for a solicitor, (if Legal Aid financial support is not an option – your solicitor will find out if you are entitled to this). Seek a solicitor who is known to deal with Domestic Violent cases as they understand the psychological impact on the victims and the abnormal behaviour of stalkers. They require less hard evidence.
Ultimately, a court will make the final decision following either route and while a solicitor will act straight away, and issue proceedings, using various laws available, (see Law & Legislation page) the PSNI will need strong court evidence and may take some time to get your case to the prosecution level. Be aware that your stalker will either start to behave due to fear of arrest, or will escalate.
On-going PSNI Reporting & Evidence Gathering
Ask your PSNI officer for an incident number, and record this also in your log of events, and the name of the reporting officer. For future contact attempts, and if you are not at risk to your safety, photograph or video their presence also. It is not against the law to record someone if they are invading your private space or they have followed you. Keep copies of all evidence and ensure that all your incident numbers are linked by requesting this each time you report, quoting past numbers also. The PSNI will do what they can within the current Harassment Order law, until Stalking legislation is finalised and in place for 2018. Until this is updated, and stronger enforcement is available, you must invest in your own protection by keeping your case together and evidence thoroughly recorded, logged, and associated Police/PSNI incident numbers to every event that happened.
PINs (Police Information Notice) are no longer being used by PSNI from 5.12.17 which were previously given to the perpetrator as an unofficial warning. If not using a solicitor quote your right for protection using Article 8, of the Human Rights Act.
Store all evidence in a safe place, even it there is a quiet stalking time, or no court action is taking place, as this behaviour can appear again, years later, and you will need all you have to prove how long this was going on for.
Women’s Aid is available for face to face support also, or MAPS(Men’s Advisory Project)
If you have been affected by stalking please help create much needed statistical understanding and evidence, to evidence need for law change to protect you, your family and others. Please complete the anonymous survey attached to this site.