In 1997, the United Kingdom (UK) voted by an act of Parliament to place into law the Protection from Harassment Act (c40). In honor of the most polite British traditions, this harassment law prohibits stalking, harassment at work, harassment based on race, or any attack-like behavior from neighbors.
The acting Lord Chancellor for England at that time was Lord Mackay of Clashfern. He said the act addresses the problem of stalking, but is more comprehensive than that. Criminal offenses under the act include any type of continued behavior directed at any person(s) that cause stress and worry. One of the determining factors that define stalking behavior is its repetitive nature. In the most simple terms, this act means that those who live in the UK now have a means to address the behavior of others intended to torment them.
The harassment act UK is one of the first of its kind in the world. Other countries have well-established policies against this type of behavior at work that match the parts of the harassment at work act in England, but few have extended this legal support for the general members of the public who experience stalking.
What is Stalking?
The UK harassment act 1997 specifically addresses the problem of stalking. According to Gov.UK, stalking includes the repeated attempted of a person to watch, harass, intimidate, follow, and place telephone calls or even the sending of unwanted emails. Stalking becomes a crime when the person being stalked tells the other person directly and clearly to stop the behavior and the stalker does not stop.
The UK police request all persons being stalked to contact them. If there is an immediate danger in the UK dial 999 to get immediate assistance. If the behavior is less serious, there is a national hotline in the UK to make a report. Here is the telephone number and the times of operation:
UK National Stalking Helpline
Telephone Number: 0808 802 0300
Operators answer this telephone number weekly from Mondays to Fridays during the hours of 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. except on Wednesday when the phone lines are answered only in the afternoons from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
More information is available at the stalkinghelpine.org
Positive Initiation of Stalking that Turns Violent
The harassment act England, covers both positive and negative stalking. Anyone who has not experienced stalking by another person, may not realize how dangerous the situation is. The trouble with stalking behavior is normally it escalates. There is some kind of fixation or obsession that the stalker has for the person whether it is racial, sexual, or another reason. The stalker feels compelled to follow the person.
The stalker could be an ex-partner, ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, or divorced spouse. Alternatively, the stalker may be a complete stranger. Both positive and negative influences affect stalking behavior. If one person thinks another is very attractive, or perhaps has failed to gain or has lost attention from that person, the stalking starts with a positive attraction. These positive feelings of the stalker motivate the desire to be with the person being stalked. At first, this may appear to be simply expressions of love or desire, such as, by giving excessive attention, flowers, showing up unexpectedly, leaving notes, sending emails, or giving gifts.
This becomes a serious problem when the person being stalked does not desire such attention from the stalker. When attentions are met with dislike or disdain by the person being stalked, the stalker gets frustrated. This changes the dynamic and the stalker may act out violently against the person previously desired.
Infatuation can rapidly turn to violent hatred. In the psychosis of the stalker’s mind, there is the tendency to form incorrect rationalizations, which include such things as, if I cannot have that person, then nobody else can have them either. This psychosis allows the stalker to attack and even kill the person they desired so much. The stalker has a fantasy about the person they are stalking, and violence occurs when the fantasy is challenged.
Negative stalking starts out badly and gets worse. It can be racially motivated, ego-based, comes from intolerance, or may happen by circumstance. In negative stalking, the person doing the stalking starts out with the intent to intimidate and harm the other person. There is no desire by the stalker to be with them, only to destroy them.
One of the saddest effects of negative stalking is that the person being stalked in this way may resort to suicide in order to escape the torment. Few people can live with constant fear mixed with hopelessness, so in such intense situations suicide becomes a viable option in the minds of those being stalked. This is a very unfortunate escape, and those left behind have the big question in their minds of “Why this person did not reach out for help?” There is help available. It is very good to let other people know about the resources that may help them if they are being stalked.
Protection Against Stalking
In order to get police and other participants in the Criminal Justice system of the UK to understand the dynamics of stalking behavior and why reports of stalking should be taken very seriously, the Protection Against Stalking initiative was started.
This organization formed in the memory of three young women who lost their lives from a stalker attack. They are Tania Moore, Rana Faruqui, and Clare Bernal. According to the website, effort to reduce stalking “saves the lives of our daughters.” They give courses in collaboration with CAADA to teach about stalking behavior, prevention measures, assessment of risk, and actions that can be taken to provide more safety for the potential victims.
Victim Support for Stalking in the UK
If you have been a victim of stalking in the UK, a great group that offers help is Victim Support. They provide the necessary emotional support and give practical help for victims of stalking. The services are at no cost. It does not matter if the crime was reported to police or when it happened.
Many gain a benefit from simply talking with a person who understands the trauma of being stalked. Most of the volunteers have experienced this type of negative behavior directly. Even when stalking incidents happened many years ago, before the UK law was passed, the victims may get some relief from the horrible memories by talking with experienced counselors.
One of the long-lasting symptoms of being a victim of stalking is an inability to trust others, especially if the stalking behavior started with excessive attention and only later turned to negative violence. The damage to the emotional psyche remains long after the stalking behavior has stopped if the victim remains alive.
How Bad is Stalking?
We will finish our discussion by telling the stories of three UK victims of stalking who were killed, so you can decide for yourself. These are all young women, but stalking is not gender based and any person may become a victim of stalking or harassment:
- Clare Bernal – Clare was a lovely young woman who was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend when she was only twenty-two years old. She worked in an upscale shopping area, which is where she met Harvey Nichols, who worked in the same store as a security guard. Their relationship was not going well, so Clare decided to break it off. They had only dated for a short time, and Nichols refuse to accept the relationship was over. He began stalking her and she went to the police for help. Nichols was released on bail, even though he was potentially dangerous to Clare, and after he already entered a plea of being guilty of stalking her. When he was out of jail, Nichols got high on cocaine, entered the store where Clare worked, shot her in the head four times, and turned his gun on himself committing suicide in front of all the customers. Clare’s mother asks the simple question, “Why was Nichols allowed to go free from jail to kill her daughter?”
- Rana Faruqui – Rana was a charming, intelligent, businesswoman who was killed by her ex-boyfriend, Stephen Griffiths, while she was on the phone requesting emergency help from the police. Prior to her death, she had reported to the police that Griffiths has cut the brake lines for her car, TWICE. It was very clear he was trying to kill her. He succeeded because the police were not able to give her adequate protection from this monster.
- Tania Moore – The ex-boyfriend, Mark Dyche, of Tania’s stalked her for months before driving her off the road and shooting her dead. She reported the stalking behavior to the police, but they did nothing to help her. After her death, an inquiry was launched to determine if the police took appropriate actions and the results were that a detective was fired because he failed to perform his duties.
The Daily Mail gave a clear expose’ on why Clare, Rana, and Tania did not need to die. In all of these cases, the killers of these women had stalked them repeatedly, and the women went to the police for help. The record of violence and stalking against these women by their former boyfriends or partners was very clear. Because these men were not stopped, they all succeeded in killing these beautiful women.
The solution in ongoing and clearly the UK needs to improve how it deals with stalkers. Many centres for stalking victims are proposed to be established in the UK according to the success attributed to over 40 centres that were established in the United States to deal with this problem. Intervention is important before the stalkers have a chance to kill their victims.