Harassment and stalking case studies

To supplement inspection findings from the 2017 joint inspection into harassment and stalking, HMIC commissioned the University of Worcester to carry out a qualitative study of the experiences and perceptions of victims.

The inclusion of these experiences in the full report, ‘Living in fear – the police and CPS response to harassment and stalking’, provides a fuller picture of harassment and stalking and the problems facing both victims and the criminal justice system.

Two case studies are included below.

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Case studies

Please note: the names below have been anonymised.

Case study

Sally’s story

Sally was in an abusive relationship for 13 years. When she left her partner, he continued to control her through access to their child. Sally decided to cut all contact with her ex-partner when she was diagnosed with a stress-related health condition. The decision to cut all contact triggered an escalation in her ex-partner’s harassment, with around 60 emails and 20 text messages a day. It was at this point Sally decided to contact the police for advice.

Sally described the first response she received from the police as ‘fantastic’. They took a statement from her and issued her ex-partner with a Police Information Notice (PIN). Unfortunately, this warning did not stop the unwanted contact. She continued to receive emails, text messages and contact via social media. The police spoke to her ex-partner to warn him and remind him of the PIN. Her ex-partner’s behaviour became more insidious, with items being left at her property, which made Sally fearful as she knew he had been to her home address. The situation escalated when Sally’s car was damaged. The police were called and tried to locate her ex-partner.

After this Sally witnessed her ex-partner returning to her address and smashing a glass bottle over her car. Following this, the police arrested and charged him with harassment, and the court issued him with a restraining order not to contact Sally and not to go to her street.

Case study

Elaine’s story

Elaine became aware of the stalking when seven websites were created about her. They contained malicious content about Elaine, including pictures of her, details of her personal life which were then shared with her children and her previous employers.

When Elaine initially contacted the police, she felt that they were not interested and advised Elaine that there was not enough evidence to arrest the person as there was no direct threat. It took 12 months of monitoring the posts before the person was arrested and given a conditional caution.

Elaine was informed that this was because the CPS did not feel there would be enough evidence for a conviction at court. Since the caution was issued, content has continued to be posted. However, the police have advised that an offence is not being committed because Elaine is no longer being named within the content.

Elaine described the impact this has had on both her and her family. She was afraid to go out of the house, she had to change to a lower-paid job where she would have some anonymity, her children had to move schools and she has suffered with anxiety. Elaine became aware of the stalking when seven websites were created about her. They contained malicious content about Elaine, including pictures of her, details of her personal life which were then shared with her children and her previous employers.

When Elaine initially contacted the police, she felt that they were not interested and advised Elaine that there was not enough evidence to arrest the person as there was no direct threat. It took 12 months of monitoring the posts before the person was arrested and given a conditional caution.

Elaine was informed that this was because the CPS did not feel there would be enough evidence for a conviction at court. Since the caution was issued, content has continued to be posted. However, the police have advised that an offence is not being committed because Elaine is no longer being named within the content.

Elaine described the impact this has had on both her and her family. She was afraid to go out of the house, she had to change to a lower-paid job where she would have some anonymity, her children had to move schools and she has suffered with anxiety.

Further information

If you, or someone you know, is affected by any of the issues in this report, help is available.

You will find the website addresses and telephone numbers of organisations that provide help and support for people affected by harassment and stalking below.

National Stalking Helpline 0808 802 0300

The National Stalking Helpline is run by the Suzy Lamplugh Trust. Calls are free from all landline telephones and also from mobiles using the O2, Orange, T Mobile, Three (3), Virgin, and Vodafone networks. Calls will not be shown on BT landline bills.

You can also contact:

If you wish to report incidents of stalking or harassment, please contact your police force directly.