It may be necessary to read the caution to a defendant if they make relevant comments. Police will need to ensure that accurate records are kept of each incident. But since these laws weren’t written with cyberstalking in mind , they don’t provide the scope that is necessary for some cases. More information can be found at: www.caada.org.uk. The offence contains four ingredients which need to be proved. It also helps ensure that if appropriate, an experienced prosecutor can be assigned to the case, and that all of the relevant applications and case handling issues can be dealt with in a timely and effective manner. Whenever a case of stalking and harassment falls within the definition of domestic violence the appropriate guidance should be followed. , Cyberstalking could come about following online or offline dating with the victim, or because the victim represents to the cyberstalker something the cyberstalker resents. This could include an Independent Domestic Violence Adviser or indeed the national helpline or specific national charities which have been established to assist victims of this type of behaviour. It is clearly a matter for the courts, on a case by case basis to determine whether two or more incidents amount to a course of conduct which consequently leads to persons being alarmed or distressed. Cyber-dependent crimes and the legislation which should be considered when reviewing and charging a cyber-dependent case; 3. However, the defendant may have obtained an order from the civil court that allows contact between the defendant and the children. This information maybe crucial to the: There are restrictions around the types of documents and information that can be disclosed to the police or CPS. For example, a young woman subjected to stalking may find it difficult to report it because she fears she will not be taken seriously because of her age. In such circumstances, the charging lawyer may suggest that conditions are imposed to protect the victim and to prevent further offences from being committed. Organisations providing support include the following: The National Stalking Helpline The defendant Rex and his family who live down the street from her, constantly mock her at her disability. In some situations, police officers might visit to check on the safety of the victim. Prosecutors should note that stalking and harassment of another or others can include a range of offences such as those under: the Protection from Harassment Act 1997; the Offences Against the Person Act 1861; the Sexual Offences Act 2003; and the Malicious Communications Act 1988. This is because the Stalking legislation is not retrospective. As cyberstalking is a form of emotional assault, laws governing harassment and slander can be applied to electronic communications. Email: helpline@womensaid.org.uk. Where appropriate, prosecutors should make links with other VAWG strands such as rape and sexual offences, honour based violence and forced marriage, child abuse, crimes against the older person, pornography, human trafficking, prostitution, and female genital mutilation. to assess whether the perpetrator might be a risk to other individuals or to the general community. Prosecutors should also ensure, as part of reviewing the case, that a victim's view on a restraining order is sought from the outset. The Home Office issued guidelines in relation to the stalking offences. Unless the court is satisfied that the applicant and any relevant child will be adequately protected without such a power, a power of arrest must be attached to an occupation order made following an application on notice and where the court is satisfied that the respondent has used or threatened violence against the applicant or relevant child. The sole defence to a breach of a criminal or a civil order is that the defendant had a reasonable excuse. The additional element in the new section 4A offence enable cases to be prosecuted when the defendant's behaviour falls short of fear of violence. Primary consideration should be given, when drafting charges or accepting pleas, to ensuring that the court has adequate sentencing powers to deal with a defendant in light of the offending behaviour. There is no law under which to prosecute cyberstalkers If people ignore stalkers, they will get bored and stop If you confront a stalker they will stop Prosecutors should ensure that a copy of the risk assessment tool (and not just the risk assessment rating) is available within the file. The original impetus to introduce the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 was to deal with the problem of stalking. - Protection against Stalking (formerly The CRT Trust) works jointly with relevant agencies to increase awareness of Stalking and Harassment to ensure victims receive all the protection and help they need to rebuild their lives and live free of fear. The purpose of the VPS statement is to: Further information can be found in Victim Personal Statements, elsewhere in the Legal Guidance. The phenomenon of cyber-stalking and on-line harassment looks set to be the focus of the next Internet-related moral panic. (b) the victim arranging for friends or family to pick up children from school (to avoid contact with the stalker); What reasons are the defence giving for suggesting that a plea to harassment should be accepted? The third defence to section 2 is that the defendant was acting reasonably in the particular circumstances. Section 1(1A) of the PHA would potentially cover a campaign against a particular organisation, which involved actions relating to different members on different occasions. It may often not be immediately apparent that separate incidents are connected as a course of conduct. When she still refused to have anything to do with him, his tone shifted and he wrote to her, stating that, if he could not have her, no-one would. It is important that the CPS work closely with the police and other agencies to ensure that the best evidence is gathered and presented to the court, to this end prosecutors should be aware of the Protocol on the appropriate handling of stalking offences between the Crown Prosecution Service & NPCC. the presence of the defendant amounts to the harassment of, or causes alarm or distress to the resident, a person in the resident's dwelling, or a person in another dwelling in the vicinity of the resident's dwelling; or is likely to result in the harassment of, or cause alarm or distress of any such person. Whilst prosecutors are not expected to be experts in civil proceedings, they should be aware of the options open to victims or other agencies under civil procedures so that an all encompassing approach can be taken in safeguarding and supporting victims. It is crucial that the police or other agencies involved with the victim or suspect identify all risks to the victim and others (which may also include risks to the suspect), and where possible take appropriate action to reduce or remove such risks. The order can be granted for a specified or indeterminate period of time, therefore, leaving the onus on the defendant to satisfy the court that they no longer present a risk to the victim. In such circumstances, where victims and witnesses are held to be vulnerable or intimidated, special measures can improve the quality of their experience by allowing them to give the 'best evidence' they are capable of. A senior police officer is calling on the government to review whether laws governing cyber-stalking in the UK are fit for purpose. It is imperative that we are supplied with relevant information such as a Victim Personal Statement or MG6 form by the police in good time for the sentencing hearing. A young woman had had a brief relationship with a man some years her senior who she had met through a dating agency. Orders available include non-molestation and occupation orders. The order can be especially useful in preventing continued stalking and harassment by defendants, including those who are given sentences of imprisonment. This should provide professional support to all those at risk, reducing the risk of harm and repeat victimisation. So the absence of factors such as those listed above does not necessarily mean that stalking is not taking place. L.R. In particular, the victim's work, home, personal lifestyle and movements (for example, due to the relationship with the victim or access to information as a result of the defendant's profession or expertise); an occupation/interests which are a source of concern (for example, access to weapons, firearms licence holder or access to confidential information); a history of misuse of drugs (prescription or other) or alcohol; and. Where the drafting of the order is incorrect, we may not be able to deal with breaches appropriately. It also flagged its intention to consider new offences of causing economic damage to the suppliers of firms or research groups engaged in the legitimate and licensed use of animals. previous convictions (or alternatively there may be relevant police intelligence) for violence or other offending (for example, domestic abuse, sexual violence, other violence, theft, and criminal damage); engaged in harassment on previous occasions against the victim or someone else; harmed the victim or anyone else (including family, or anyone else the victim may have had a relationship with, or stranger), physically or sexually; harmed animals - in particular harmed pets belonging to the victim or those close to the victim; breached an injunction, non-molestation order, other court order or bail conditions; encouraged other people to assist in the stalking or harassment (whether they are conscious of their involvement or not); considerable knowledge about the victim. The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 created two new offences of stalking by inserting new sections 2A and 4A into the PHA 1997. (d) the victim moving home; The court  held that in order to rely on the defence under section 1 (3)(a) of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, which exempts liability for a course of conduct "pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime", the alleged harasser would have to show that he had acted rationally. Section 1 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 (DVCVA) came into force on 1 July 2007. She feels very intimidated by Rex's behaviour and is starting to feel trapped in her home. Identifying quickly and accurately the risks posed by a defendant toward a victim, group of victims or indeed a victim's family is a crucial step in increasing the safety of a victim. Laws governing stalking, harassment, and slander, as well as specific “cyberstalking” laws, vary by state, and might include a series of acts that might not be considered illegal under other circumstances. Get in touch today for more information, advice and support. Fax: 020 8721 5273. Closely connected groups may also be subjected to 'collective' harassment. Read more. The prison can be informed of the existence of an order by the police. Cyberstalking involves both a criminal offence and a civil wrongdoing. where the victim(s) is/are a target of a campaign involving domestic extremism (for example, animal rights extremists). Stalking 111 Offences in relation to stalking (1) After section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (offence of harassment) insert— “ 2A Offence of stalking (1) A person is guilty of an offence if— (a) the person pursues a course of conduct in breach of section 1(1), and (b) the course of conduct amounts to stalking. Where possible other agencies should be involved to ensure effective management of risk and generic risk assessment tools which are capable of being used by a multitude of agencies that maybe involved with a victim should be employed. The phrase "substantial adverse effect on ... usual day-to-day activities" is not defined in section 4A and thus its construction will be a matter for the courts. The police are also encouraged to seek early consultation in cases which may be complex or involve challenging issues. Related topics: National Stalking Helpline; Get Stalking Advice and Help Read more. In order to protect the activities of the security forces, and those investigating serious crime, under section 12, the Secretary of State may issue a certificate to the effect that the behaviour complained of was done in relation to: Such a certificate is conclusive evidence that the PHA does not apply to the conduct of a person on a specified occasion. Victim Support (c) the victim putting in place additional security measures in their home; Has the defendant been convicted of a stalking offence? information from family proceedings that may be shared with other relevant authorities such as the police. Likewise, some cases will need more than one flag to ensure that the correct case handling procedures are followed and the volume and outcomes of such cases can be accurately monitored. It is possible that it could be raised as by individuals such as investigative journalists or Neighbourhood Watch members who claim that their activities are for the purpose of detecting or preventing crime. The standard of proof, which it is for the defendant to put forward, is the balance of probabilities. when a course of conduct fell short of causing a victim to feel fear of violence but nevertheless caused a victim serious alarm or distress. to ensure members of the public are aware of the requirements of the criminal law, in particular the PHA; as part of an early police intervention to contribute to preventing the escalation of disputes between individuals and/or further incidents of behaviour which could amount to harassment; to assist any future prosecution by proving that the offender knew their conduct could amount to harassment under the PHA; to provide a response when a complainant does not wish to support a prosecution. For example, a bail condition may be imposed by the criminal court that prohibits any contact between the defendant and the victim. The measures are collectively known as 'special measures'. Also, a victim may be reporting a single act and no offence has occurred. United Kingdom – In the United Kingdom, the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 contains an offence of stalking covering cyber-stalking, which was introduced into the act through the Protection of … It is helpful for victims of cyberstalking to discuss their situation with an impartial third party. applications in respect to witnesses; and. (g) the victim stopping /or changing the way they socialise. However, under section 4A, the additional element will allow prosecutors to consider an either way offence. The effect of such behaviour is to curtail a victim's freedom, leaving them feeling that they constantly have to be careful. In some cases, where there are considerable overlaps between proceedings and strong grounds for maintaining liaison between the criminal and civil jurisdictions, joint case management hearings may be required. She is scared that if she reports Rex to the police, his family will make more trouble for her. where the defendant has obtained accommodation near the victim, the investigating officer should identify the address and interview neighbours about the defendant's movements. A person will commit an offence under section 42A(1) if: The purpose of this offence is to give the police the ability to deal with harassing or intimidatory behaviour by individuals towards a person in his home even after an incident has taken place. The woman has become nervous and anxious and begins resorting to locking up all the windows and doors and keeps on checking a number of times. Under section 32(1)of the CDA 1998, a person is guilty of an offence under this section if he commits-, a) an offence under s2 or s2A of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (offences of harassment and stalking); or. In general, we should proceed on the basis that if the behaviour is clearly indicative of stalking, then that is the appropriate charge and should not accept a plea to harassment simply out of expediency. The purpose of the order is to protect the victim (or other named person) from any future harassment or fear of violence, rather than to punish the defendant. In the UK there are various laws in place to tackle the growing problems of stalking and cyberstalking. This may be because actions complained of are reasonable and lawful and were adequately explained by the suspect. the course of conduct amounts to stalking. However, no power of arrest can be attached to this civil order and, in order to enforce it though the civil courts, the victim will need to return to court to apply for a warrant of arrest. A power to search for and seize computers or other electronic equipment that may have been used to commit the offence would potentially strengthen the prosecution case. The Code for Crown Prosecutors also states that charges should be selected which enable clear presentation of the case. The 6 months' limitation should run from the last date of the course of conduct alleged. It is unlikely that the courts will allow incidents that have already been dealt with to form part of a subsequent offence, given the doctrines of autrefois acquit and convict. Such assessments are only likely to be available if ordered by the court. In many circumstances, cases of stalking and harassment will come within the definition of 'domestic violence' and as such the CPS Domestic Violence Policy and legal guidance will also be relevant. The complainant can either call the police to have the breach dealt with within the criminal jurisdiction, or they can make an application to have the person committed to custody for contempt application in the civil jurisdiction. It is not thought likely that such certificates will be issued in relation to the activities of specialist police units. These could include: revenge; retribution; loneliness; resentment; a desire for reconciliation; response to a perceived insult or humiliation; or a desire for control. Wales Domestic Abuse Helpline Therefore the range of behaviour that is capable of constituting an offence under the Act is potentially very wide. Recording all of this information enables us to monitor our performance. If cyberstalking lasts for longer than several months, the victim should seek legal advice to help him or her understand their legal position and to install confidence in them to take the appropriate steps to bring the cyberstalking to an end. There is no concept of official 'warnings' under the PHA. This is an important aspect of the new offence and prosecutors should consider the cumulative effect of stalking on the victim and the effect and nature of individual incidents, rather than looking at specific incidents in isolation. Adults & Children take note.. This limb recognises the overall emotional and psychological harm that stalking may cause to victims, even where an explicit fear of violence is not created by each incident of stalking behaviour. 2020 It is confirmed as including speech. The nature of stalking and harassment, particularly where the victim has been followed or subjected to periods of observation, will usually mean that the defendant has spent significant periods of time in the vicinity of the victim's home, place of work or other places that the victim habitually visits. He sent hundreds of e-mails at her work and personal email accounts. As the receipt of a police notice could be used as evidence in subsequent proceedings, it should be given personally so that there is clarity about the defendant's identity and that they received the notice. Upon receipt of an expedited report or evidential file, a prosecutor should: It is important to note that matters said to constitute the course of conduct amounting to harassment must be properly particularised in the information laid or in the indictment (C v CPS 2008 EWHC 148). This can include the use of social networking sites, chat rooms and other forums facilitated by technology. What can the victim do about cyberstalking. The definition of harassment was considered in Plavelil v Director of Public Prosecutions [2014] EWHC 736 (Admin), in which it was held that the repeated making of false and malicious assertions against a doctor in connection with an investigation by the GMC could amount to a course of harassment. In such a case, it maybe relevant to remind the police that they should inform victims that they maybe able to seek additional recourse via the civil court by making application for a non-molestation order or other injunctive relief. If the victim is reluctant to attend court, would it be in the public interest to witness summons him or her? the transcript of the judgment (where findings have been made or not made). When a police notice has been issued, the officer should record that fact and the nature of the notice (for example, allegations made), and offer it to the recipient to sign, indicating receipt and understanding. Does the evidence show a targeted campaign or fixated behaviour which can be best described as stalking? The maximum penalty for contempt is two years' imprisonment. This guidance provides a summary of the main types of cybercrime offending and highlights where further guidance is available. 580 and R v Patel [2005] 1 Cr. Victims who experience harassment can seek a restraining order, the breach of which maybe a criminal offence. Social media and the internet are often used for stalking and harassment, and ‘cyber-stalking’ or online threats can be just as intimidating. This is particularly relevant where historically it has been more difficult to achieve a successful outcome for victims. Prosecutors should consider Section 32 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 ( CDA 1998) which provides for two racially or religiously aggravated harassment offences, provided the racial or religious aggravation test in section 28 of the CDA 1998 Acts met. Our online tool can offer information on services local to you, the law, as well as tips on how to gather evidence. to do something that he is not under any obligation to do. the victim's views on his or her own and the safety of others if a restraining order is or is not made. It is an aggravating factor under Section 146 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, allowing a heavier tariff to be used in sentencing than the crime might draw without the hate elements. The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (SOCPA) made several amendments to the PHA to enable organisations and their employees to be better protected: Section 125(2) of the SOCPA added a new subsection 1(1A) to the PHA making it an offence for a person (or persons) to pursue a course of conduct involving the harassment of two or more persons on separate occasions which the defendant knows or ought to know involves harassment, the purpose of which is to persuade any person (not necessarily one of the persons being harassed) not to do something that he is entitled to do or to do something he is not under any obligation to do. Stalking - section 4A(1)(b)(i), the wording must contain "at least on two occasions", as specified in the required elements of this offence. Links to other relevant policies and legal guidance: Cases of stalking and harassment that fall within the Government definition of domestic violence should be identified both on the file jacket (for example, through a readily identifiable sticker, marking it with the letters 'DV' or using a different colour file jacket) and flagged on CMS as domestic violence. It includes practical guidance to assist those members of staff who are victims of stalking and harassment either in a domestic or non-domestic environment. Section 2A is a summary offence and a person guilty of the offence of stalking is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine. the course of conduct was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime; the course of conduct was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment; or. If person does return within the period specified in the direction, beginning with the date on which the direction is given, and does so for the purposes of representing to or persuading a person not to do something he is entitled to do or to do something he is not obliged to do, he commits an offence. Even if further harassment has not been prevented, the delivery of the notice could be relevant evidence in the future to prove that an individual knew their conduct amounted to harassment. - the new National Stalking Advocacy Service was established in the spring of 2013. Information about the motivation of the suspect is crucial in informing the investigation, the approach to risk and ensuring that suspects are subject to an appropriate multi-agency response. - The charity Network for Surviving Stalking represents UK stalking victims and their families. 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