Stalking is a specific crime that is covered by section 39 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010. Stalking and harassment can be defined as any persistent or unwanted attention that makes you feel distressed or unsafe. This includes being followed, called or sent persistent messages.
Stalking often goes on for a long period of time, making the victim feel constantly anxious and scared for their safety. Like other types of abuse, it can take a while for someone to realise that they are being harassed and that it is not just “normal” behaviour.
Harassment and stalking doesn’t just happen in person – social media and the internet are often used to make people feel intimidated and fearful. Whatever the situation, this is not something you have to put up with, and someone can be prosecuted for stalking if they have behaved in this way twice or more.
It is important to keep a record of everything that’s happening. Police need evidence of the stalking and harassment in order to take the matter further, so although it may be tempting to delete unwanted messages it’s important to save them in case they are needed in court. Here’s what you need to do:
- Make a note of the date, time and location of each incident, along with details of any witnesses.
- Save all messages and keep screenshots of emails or social media contact with the perpetrator.
- Take photographs where possible, but do this subtly and carefully to avoid making the stalker aware.
If you feel you are in immediate danger, call the police straight away on 999.