Talking to the Police

What to Take

It is important to try and gather as much evidence as possible of what has been happening to you. This might include audio recordings, films or pictures, along with copies of emails, text messages, screenshots and similar. You could also keep a log of all the incidents that have occured.

If you are gathering evidence against your stalker, be careful when taking video footage or pictures as we have come across cases where the stalker has then complained that the victim is harassing them. If you are unsure then you can talk to the police about this first.

Click here to find out more about collecting evidence.

Afterwards

If you’ve spoken to the police but are unhappy with their response or have further questions, see below.

I do not feel the police understood the seriousness of what is happening to me: what can I do now?
What are the police guidelines for investigating harassment and stalking in England and Wales?
Is there a civil route if I do not want to involve the police?

I do not feel the police understood the seriousness of what is happening to me: what can I do now?

Most police officers want to be able to help you but may lack the training to have a full understanding of what stalking is, the risk factors associated with it and the distress is can cause. Many forces now have an officer who acts as a single point of contact (SPOC) for stalking problems, you could go back to the police and ask to speak with this officer. If the person you speak with does not know who the SPOC is, or if the force does not have one then ask to speak with someone in the public protection unit, or if the stalker is an ex intimate or family member ask to speak with a domestic abuse officer. Take with you a completed Stalking risk checklist and explain how you feel. You may also want to take with you a log of everything that has happened and any evidence you have retained. There are links on this site detailing how best to keep a log and how to preserve evidence.

What are the police guidelines for investigating harassment and stalking in England and Wales?

You can read the ACPO and National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) best practice guidelines in relation to harassment and stalking by clicking here

Is there a civil route if I do not want to involve the police?

A civil injunction can be granted if the defendant can be proven on a balance of probabilities to have committed just one action which a reasonable person would consider would cause alarm, distress or harassment, if the defendant knew this would be the effect or ought to know. The injunction is made for the purpose of restraining the defendant from pursuing any conduct which amounts to harassment. Also, damages can be awarded for any anxiety caused by the harassment and any financial loss resulting from the harassment. For civil injunctions issued before 1 September 1998, breach of injunction is dealt with as contempt of court, which is punishable by up to two years in prison. Breach of an injunction in such a case is not in itself, however, a criminal offence.

On 1 September 1998, legislation came into force which made Protection From Harassment civil injunctions more effective. This means that civil injunctions issued after -this date have an automatic power of arrest attached to them, and breach of one of these injunctions is a criminal offence. This also gives the police more powers of investigation, including search powers. Breach of a civil injunction issued after 1 September 1998 is punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment.

The civil injunction will have to be applied for in the civil courts and the costs of obtaining the injunction need to be met by the person applying for the injunction unless Legal Aid is granted. Prosecution for breach of an injunction obtained after 1 September 1998 will be dealt with by the police, and therefore costs will not be incurred by the victim; however if the injunction was obtained before this date, the victim will need to meet the court costs themselves if they cannot get Legal Aid.

The civil injunction will have to be applied for in the civil courts and the costs of obtaining the injunction need to be met by the person applying for the injunction unless Legal Aid is granted. For further advice about civil procedures you could contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).