Stalking

If you think you are being stalked, please report to Police Scotland at your local police station, via 101, online or via 999 if it is an emergency.  

You can access the online Stalking Form to report incidents of stalking that have occurred within Scotland.

What is stalking?

Stalking is a serious criminal offence under Section 39  of the Criminal Justice and Licensing Act (Scotland) 2010. There is a wide range of behaviours that can be classed as stalking under the Act.

The legislation states that: 

“An offence occurs when a person engages in a course of conduct on at least two separate occasions, which causes another person to feel fear or alarm, where the accused person intended, or knew or ought to have known, that their conduct would cause fear and alarm.”

In other words, if someone targets another person in a way that is repeated and unwanted – regardless of whether their actions are threatening or not – but where the intention or outcome is to cause distress then they could be guilty of stalking.

In the absence of explicit threats, individual incidents on their own, may appear harmless. But police and courts will assess them together and may conclude they form a ‘course of conduct’ that intended to cause, or resulted in, fear and alarm.

Stalking

Recognising the behaviour

Stalking behaviours can often be identified by certain characteristics. A key question to ask is, are the actions of the person:

  • Fixated
  • Obsessive
  • Unwanted
  • Repeated?

Common stalking behaviours:

Stalkers seek to intimidate their targets through one or more of the following:

  • Sending unwanted letters or cards
  • Sending unwanted emails or text messages or posts on social media sites 
  • Making unwanted phone calls
  • Delivering unwanted gifts to a workplace or home
  • Waiting outside someone’s home or workplace 
  • Following someone or spying on them
  • Sharing intimate pictures of them without their consent, for example by text, on a website, or on a social media site
  • Posting information publicly about someone, making public accusations or contacting someone’s employer
  • Making threats.

However, stalking is highly individual and certain actions may appear innocuous to others, but hold significance to both the stalker and the person they are targeting.

Some stalkers will recruit other people to target their victim. Sometimes these third parties don’t understand the potential consequences, sometimes they’re manipulated into fulfilling the stalker’s wishes, sometimes they’re willing participants.

This is by no means an exhaustive list and each instance of stalking may present unique circumstances that are not listed above.

Watch the below video by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust for more information on what stalking is.

Practical Safety Advice

Practical safety advice for people being stalked includes:

  • Report it to the police.
  • Do not interact with the person stalking you.
  • Take a mobile telephone with you when you go out.
  • Have your keys ready for when you reach your front door
  • Consider fitting a home alarm system or carrying a personal attack alarm.
  • Make your online life more secure by changing your passwords regularly, heighten your privacy settings and do not share personal information with a stranger.  
  • Activate a pin or password on your mobile devices.
  • Turn off GPS and locating tagging on your mobile devices. 
  • If you become aware that you are being followed, make your way to a public place, commercial premises (such as a retail shop) or your nearest police station.
  • Download the FollowIt App and record stalking incidents.

Please help Police Scotland to help you

The Truth about Stalking from Rape Crisis Scotland.

  • Keep a diary of incidents and save evidence like text messages, emails and screenshots of any online activity. 
  • If you are receiving non-threatening letters or gifts, keep them as evidence of unwanted contact. If any of these items contain frightening or upsetting messages, again do not throw them away and handle them as little as possible. It is important that you pass these items to the police.
  • If you have a smart phone or other suitable device, record unwanted telephone conversations.
  • Do not allow the person to emotionally isolate you. Tell your trusted family and friends about what you are experiencing.

Dealing with unwanted calls

  • Contact your service provider who can put in place additional measures to prevent calls from withheld or unknown numbers.
  • If you choose to answer the phone, answer by saying 'hello', not your name or number.
  • Make use of answer machines and caller identifications to screen calls. Only talk to people you want to.
  • Try to keep calm and don’t show emotion. Certain categories of anonymous caller will give up if they don't get a reaction from you.
  • Do not respond in any way to unwanted calls, letters, or conversations.

If you know or find out who is stalking you

  • Contact Police Scotland and report the circumstances.
  • Do not confront your stalker or engage them in conversation.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, agree to a meeting.

How to contact Police Scotland

  • Phone 101;
  • Phone 999 (in an emergency);
  • Attend in person at any police office;
  • Submit an online form via the Police Scotland website.

stalking-postcard-1

stalking-postcard-2

Further support and information

National Stalking Helpline
0300 636 0300
www.stalkinghelpline.org
advice@stalkinghelpline.org

Scottish Women’s Rights Centre (free legal advice)
08088 010 789

The Centre is a unique collaborative project that provides free legal information, advice, representation, and advocacy support for self-identifying women over 16 years of age affected by violence and abuse.

Our helplines are a first point of contact where women can speak to our solicitors or advocacy workers for advice and information. Our helpline number and opening times are as follows:

Legal information

Monday 2 - 5 pm

Tuesday 6 - 8 pm

Wednesday 11 am - 2 pm

Friday 10 am - 1 pm

Advocacy support

Tuesday 11 am - 2 pm

Sexual harassment

Thursday 5 - 8 pm

Protection Against Stalking (PAS)
www.protectionagainststalking.org
info@protectionagainststalking.org

Network for Surviving Stalking (NSS)
www.nss.org.uk

Suzy Lamplugh Trust
020 7091 0014
www.suzylamplugh.org

National Stalking Advocacy Service
www.paladinservice.co.uk

Digital Stalking advice
www.digital-stalking.com

Action Against Stalking (AAS)
www.actionagainststalking.org/

Restoring the Balance campaign

The ‘Restoring the Balance’ campaign aims to stop stalkers being able to use the civil courts system to abuse their victims.

As part of this, the Suzy Lamplugh Trust, who run the National Stalking Helpline, are currently carrying out research on the experience of stalking victims who have been subjected to vexatious complaints (false accusations) by their stalker. Is this something that you think you could help with? If so, we would appreciate if you could spend 3 minutes completing this short survey.

Your responses will remain anonymous and will assist us in bringing about a change to help victims of stalking in the UK.

The Suzy Lamplugh Trust will also be holding focus groups as part of this research, to find out more about the experiences faced by stalking victims who are subjected to vexatious complaints. 

If you would be willing to attend a focus group, please complete the contact details at the end of the survey. Expenses will be covered and participants will be offered a £20 gift voucher as a gesture of appreciation.

Stalking is a serious crime and, the sooner you report, the sooner the police can intervene. Police Scotland’s priority will also be to keep you safe.

We will need as much information as you can provide to carry out an investigation. Sometimes, what appears to be ordinary, everyday actions actually demonstrate a course of conduct by the stalker. Therefore, it’s important to keep a log or diary of all incidents to show the police.

This will include, date, time, place and what the incident was. You may be asked at some point to provide the police with a victim impact statement, therefore keep a note of how the behaviours made you feel, what your concerns are and what you fear will happen.

We will also need evidence to support your complaint and, if your case goes to court, you must gather as much evidence as possible. This might include:

  • Emails, text and social media messages, phone numbers
  • Gifts or other items left by your stalker
  • If there’s been damage to your belongings or property, take as many photographs as you can 
  • If you know who your stalker is, give the police as much information about them as you can 
  • If you have already gone to the trouble to get a civil protection order, you must show this to the police 
  • Keep a log of names, addresses and contact details of witnesses 
  • Keep any letters or notes you receive, even if your natural reaction is to destroy them – the police may need these for fingerprint testing, so try not to handle them, if possible (it’s wise to wear disposable gloves, available in most supermarkets, and where possible place the items in a polythene bag). 

Dealing with unwanted calls

  • Contact your service provider who can put in place additional measures to prevent calls from withheld or unknown numbers.
  • If you choose to answer the phone, answer by saying 'hello', not your name or number.
  • Make use of answer machines and caller identifications to screen calls. Only talk to people you want to.
  • Try to keep calm and don’t show emotion. Certain categories of anonymous caller will give up if they don't get a reaction from you.
  • Do not respond in any way to unwanted calls, letters, or conversations.

If you know or find out who is stalking you

  • Contact Police Scotland and report the circumstances.
  • Do not confront your stalker or engage them in conversation.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, agree to a meeting.

How to report stalking to Police Scotland

You can report stalking to Police Scotland:

  • By calling 101
  • Online 
  • At your local police station
  • Or via 999 if it is an emergency
  • Through a third party reporting centre, including Victim Support Scotland.

To report an incident of stalking that has occurred within Scotland, you can access Police Scotland’s online Stalking Reporting Form

Action Against Stalking also has an online reporting form

Further support and information

National Stalking Helpline
0300 636 0300

Suzy Lamplugh Trust
www.suzylamplugh.org

Action Against Stalking (AAS)
www.actionagainststalking.org/

Victim Support Scotland
0800 160 1985 (Monday-Friday, 8am-8pm)
www.victimsupport.scot

Scottish Women’s Rights Centre
08088 010 789 (Open every Wednesday 1330 – 1630)
www.scottishwomensrightscentre.org.uk

Rape Crisis Scotland
08088 01 03 02 (6pm – midnight, 7 days)
www.rapecrisisscotland.org.uk

Scottish Women’s Aid
www.womensaid.scot