It is a criminal offence in England and Wales for someone to harass you or put you in fear of violence. This legal guide is designed to give information about the ways in which the law can protect you.
What is harassment?
The law states that harassment is when a person behaves in a way which is intended to cause you distress or alarm. The behaviour must happen on more than one occasion. It can be the same type of behaviour or different types of behaviour on each occasion. For example, one text message intended to distress you is not harassment. Two text messages may be harassment. One text message and one phone call may also
Harassment can include things your abuser has said or done. The incidents could have happened recently or they could have happened months apart.
When deciding whether your abuser’s behaviour is harassment, the court will consider whether a reasonable person, who had the same information your abuser had, would think that it is harassment. An incident of harassment could be a range of things, for example:
- a text, answer-phone message, letter or email
- a comment or threat
- standing outside someone’s house or driving past it
- an act of violence
- damage to someone else’s property
- maliciously and falsely reporting you to the police when you have done nothing wrong