By: Sarah Clark (ILEX) (26 Aug 15)
Stalking by neighbours – or anyone, in fact – is one of those crimes that is often joked about, but can be very unnerving and at times even frightening. If you suspect that you are a victim of stalking, whether it’s a stranger or a neighbour, one of the main things to do is to try and keep calm. Stalkers and people who are out to harass others are often just looking for a reaction, and if you try to stay aloof and appear unconcerned, even if you are feeling anything but, they may lose interest and leave you alone.
Harassment covers pretty much all forms of unwanted behaviour, from mildly irritating to actual physical violence. Harassment can be a criminal offence and Laws Exist To Protect You. If the neighbour concerned is also watching or following you, making constant attempts to contact you or even sending you unwanted gifts, harassment becomes 'stalking'.
It may seem innocent at first – a neighbour seems to be a bit over friendly perhaps, and in all honesty, it could be a misunderstanding or a one-off. But if the strange or unwanted behaviour happens repeatedly (and repeatedly just means more than once) or you’re feeling distressed or frightened by the behaviour, trust your instincts. Stalking is a criminal offence so don’t blame yourself and don’t think that you have to put up with it, whether it’s a neighbour or a stranger.
Keep Hold of the Evidence
If things escalate, make sure that you keep a note of all incidents that you consider to be harassment or stalking and tell people, other neighbours, or your friends and relatives, what’s going on. You can enlist the help of willing neighbours who might be able to keep an eye out for the perpetrator – if they deliver anything, or are hanging around your property, for example.
If the person who is stalking you also uses text, email, or the post to get
to you, you should keep evidence of these as they can be used if you need to take the matter up formally. Don’t be tempted to respond – that’s what the stalker wants you to do.
In addition to hard evidence, Keep A Diary Of Events. making sure that you note down anything suspicious, times, dates and events. Write down anything that your neighbour says or does that could be construed as stalking as soon as it happens, as only evidence that’s recorded ‘contemporaneously’ – that is, immediately – can be used in any future court proceedings if they become necessary.
Being Stalked on the Telephone
If part of your stalker’s campaign involves telephone calls, you should keep a record of dates and times of the calls and anything that was said. If the caller hasn’t disguised their number, make a note of that too, or if being stalked via a land line, try 1471 to see if they slip up and reveal their number.
BT may be able to help if the stalker has your landline number. Call the BT Nuisance Calls Bureau on 0800 661 441 if you are a BT customer. On your mobile, save any malicious text messages for evidence.
If You Feel in Danger
If you ever feel as if you are in imminent danger, call 999 straight away and don’t worry about feeling foolish if the threat later dissipates – it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Try to stay calm and not show any fear or emotion. Don’t lose your temper or attempt to confront your stalker, again, the bully is looking for a reaction, so you should try not to let them have what they are looking for, even if you’re angry or frightened. If you notice your stalker, try to get away from them and into a public area or into your or a friendly neighbour’s home.
If the harassment carries on, your only option is to Contact The Local Police .