Taking Stalking Seriously

Yesterday was a BIG day for England & Wales as their legal system introduced the Protection of Freedoms Act, 2012 - the first piece of legislation to recognise stalking as a criminal offence.

The new legislation outlines 2 offences which clearly define stalking & make it clear that stalkers will be prosecuted for their actions. Jeremy Browne, the Crime Prevention Minister says: "...Those convicted of stalking by harassing, following or spying on people face up to six months in prison, while those guilty of stalking with the threat of violence face up to five years in jail..."
(source Telegraph Online)

The Sun Newspaper printed that 120,000 people, mainly women are stalked every year but under previous laws only 53,00 cases were recorded as crimes & only 
50 of those led to an obsessive being jailed. 

According to the Protection of Freedoms Act, the following are examples of acts or omissions which, in particular circumstances, are ones associated with stalking: 

❀ Following a person 
❀ Contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means
❀ Publishing any statement or other material::
          (a) relating or purporting to relate to a person
          (b) purporting to originate from a person
❀ Monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other electronic communication
❀ Loitering in any place (public or private)
❀ Interfering with any property in the possession of a person
❀ Watching or spying on a person

The new legislation recognises the similarities & has made comparisons between offline & online stalking. Prior to this legislation, members of the public would quite easily recognise person A physically following person B from one place to another, on a number of occassions as stalking...This now, can be transposed to that of  person A following via the internet person B from one place to another. Trolls who leave negative & derogatory comments will often use this method to harass & intimidate.

In addition to the behaviours outlined within the legislation, researchers into cyber-stalking have outlined additional behaviours, which include:

False accusations: 
          Many cyber-stalkers try to damage the reputation of their victim & turn other people against them by posting false information & allegations on public & private pages.
Attempts to gather information about the victim: 
          Cyber-stalkers may approach, befriend & follow the victims friends & family in order to obtain information about their victim. 
Monitoring their targets online activities: 
          In order to obtain further information.
Encouraging others to harass the victim: 
          Many cyberstalkers try to involve third parties in the harassment. They may claim the victim has harmed the stalker or his/her family in some way, or may post the victim's name & telephone number in order to encourage others to join the pursuit.
False victimisation: 
          The cyber-stalker may claim that the victim is stalking them. 

As Bloggers it is important to be aware which behaviours are considered to be stalking. 
Interestingly enough, in New South Wales, legislation states that publishing any statement in order to provoke a reaction from the victim is considered to be initiating contact.

I'm not going to go into any more detail, but having investigated cyber stalking & how increased popularity & accessibility of internet networking services has exposed the vulnerability of its users for my university thesis, I could quite easily write about stalking behaviour 
& personality traits for hours... 

The National Stalking Helpline (UK charity) advise that you trust your instinct & keep a record of everything & most importantly keep a log of any strange, unusual & intimidating behaviour which you feel is directed at you. The Network For Surviving Stalking (UK charity) offer an 'at risk' checklist which you can complete before contacting the authorities - this might include the Police, your local MP or a lawyer.

National Stalking Helpline
Network For Surviving Stalking
Protection of Freedoms Act, 2012

1 comment:

  1. Just found this post(quite late I admit)...wish we had a law like this in the U.S.!


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