In light of a recent news story in which Office for National Statistics data shows that in Sunderland alone, 3,203 cases of stalking, harassment or malicious communications were reported between October 2017 and September 2018, we have decided to re-up one of our most acclaimed guidance posts from the last eighteen months.
After all, it remains the case that more and more individuals around Tyne and Wear are coming to professional private investigation companies such as ours to help them try to evidence and deal with harassment as a civil matter in order to bring about an end to the distress it is causing in their lives.
Incidents of harassment, more so in the age of growing social media platforms, are increasing and police services are now de-prioritising dealing with it due to an ongoing staffing and funding crisis.
So what follows is a handy step-by-step guide as to how to most effectively deal with any harassment you are victim of and to best engage us for service in order to put an end to the nightmare once and for all:
Make your stance very clear very early.
Send a text or email (and keep a copy of it) with the date and time visible that shows you stating clearly and concisely to the person that you do not wish to hear from them again and you are asking them to please stop getting in touch because it is making you feel uncomfortable. Keep it short, to the point and most important of all keep it civil. Don’t use any contentious, threatening or abusive language.
Record and keep everything.
Screenshot texts and emails and keep them in a separate file somewhere safe and record phone conversations where possible should communication from them continue after you’ve made your stance clear. If you’re walking home from somewhere and they’re following you, try and snatch a photo or video but most importantly make sure you log the date, time and location of where the ‘stalking’ occurred.
Report to the police.
This is important. You know that the likelihood is that the police are not going to do anything, ultimately. But it is imperative that all formalities are carried out and you never truly know whether early initial police interaction might actually be enough to put an end to this behaviour. Statistically, quite a high number of harassment cases DO end after a warning from the police. So, once you have two or three more incidents of unwelcome contact:
a) go to the police with copies of your evidence and explain how unsafe and distressed it is making you feel.
b) ask for the police to record your complaint and request that a Police Information Notice (PIN) is issued to the person harassing you.
c) request a copy of the PIN, the relating crime reference number and the reporting officer’s name, rank and shoulder number.
Stay committed to challenging the unwelcome behaviour.
If the harassment continues even still, you must re-contact the police to inform that the PIN has been ignored and provide them with further recorded evidence of dates and times in which the harassment has continued AFTER the date of the PIN being issued. The police must be given the opportunity to escalate the PIN to the next stage if the behaviour continues.
Should the police not take action, post-PIN, or suggest to you that the behaviour(s) “don’t amount to harassment” (victims of harassment get told this a lot by the police lately!) then contact Surmount Investigations. We will then work with you to collate a comprehensive report of the full history of harassment and distress. From there we will work with you to design a support plan involving surveillance, interviewing and evidence-gathering.
Once a full evidential file has been put together, we will discuss with you what you would like the next stage to be. In most cases our clients ask us to re-present our evidence alongside them back to the police and give them the opportunity to tackle this once and for all with a formal charge. In other cases, clients engage solicitors or law firms for representation and bring a civil case against their harasser using our files and support.
We hope this week’s post has been of use to you and if you think it could be of use to someone you know please do share it with them. If you would like further advice or guidance, or would like to take up our Harassment & Distress Service, please contact us now to arrange a FREE consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.