What is Stalking and Harassment?

Many people think that stalking just happens to celebrities, but they’re wrong. It can happen to anyone.

According to the British Crime Survey, 5 million people experience stalking every year and many victims suffer up to 100 incidents before talking to the police.

Stalking is not something you have to live with, and help is available.

What do we mean by stalking?

Stalking is defined as:

"two or more incidents (causing distress, fear or alarm) of obscene, threatening or unwanted communication, waiting or loitering around a home or workplace, following or watching".

This video from the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, which operates the National Stalking Awareness Hotline helps explain.


What do we mean by Harassment?

Harassment is defined as:

“Repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and contact upon a victim in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person.”

Harassment might include:

  • antisocial behaviour
  • bullying at school or in the workplace
  • frequent, unwanted communications / gifts
  • telephone calls, text messages or other contact such as via the internet e.g. social networking sites
  • damaging the victim’s property
  • harassment of people associated with the victim e.g. family members, partner, work colleagues

Stalking is an aggravated form of harassment and might include:

  • persistently following someone
  • loitering somewhere frequented by the person
  • watching or spying on someone
  • repeatedly going uninvited to their home
  • breaking into victim’s home
  • monitoring someone’s use of the internet, email or other form of electronic communication via software such as spyware or tracking apps
  • interfering with their property
  • identity theft
  • abusing victim’s pets
  • threatening to harm children
  • sending letters or unwanted gifts

What is the difference between Stalking and Harassment?

Whilst some of the behaviours experienced by a victim can be very similar, a key difference between stalking and harassment is that a stalker is more likely to be more obsessively fixated on one specific individual – their victim – and may, for example, do everything they can to locate, follow or track down the victim if they try to move away, change jobs etc.