In today’s technological era it seems that we no longer have privacy; we are contactable 24 hours a day, be it via text message, social media or even email. Whilst most contact we receive is welcomed there are instances where the contact received is unwanted and distressing. With the use of social media apps such as; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Messenger, to name but a few you do not need to be aware of a person’s telephone number to contact them. Most people who hold social media accounts will have received a direct message that was unwanted. There also appears to be a breed of ‘keyboard warriors’ who enjoy continually posting comments on stranger’s social media accounts that are intended to cause alarm or distress.
It is not just harassment from strangers that occurs, people who were once in a committed relationship, that has sadly failed, can find themselves on the receiving end of distressing messages from their ex – partner. So, at what point does unwanted contact transcend to harassment or stalking?
The Law provides, by virtue of, The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, that the offence of harassment is made out when a person pursues a course of conduct in a way which is intended to cause distress or alarm to another, which amounts to harassment of another; and which the person knows, or ought to know amounts to it. The conduct must have occurred on more than one occasion, the conduct may cause distress or alarm to another by things said or done by the perpetrator. A course of conduct could encompass a wide range of behaviour, for example:
a direct text, answer-phone message, letter or email.
posting a comment or threat on social media.
committing an act of violence.
damaging someone else’s property.
The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 straddles both criminal and civil law. Offences committed pursuant to the Act are prosecuted in the criminal courts whilst civil remedies are also available in the county court.
Our specialist solicitors and paralegals hold extensive expertise in the remedies available to both the criminal and civil courts, we are therefore able to offer our client’s a full and comprehensive service when advising on such matters.
We also offer full advice as to the remedies available to protect from future harassment, such as Restraining Orders, Injunctions and Non – Molestation Orders. We will guide you through the process to ensure that you receive the full protection of the law and advice as to the sanctions that would be imposed by the criminal court if such orders were to be breached by the offender.
Harassment is not contained to one specific area or gender; many people have experienced it in the work place or merely because of their ethnicity.
If you find yourself accused of an offence of harassment, then our specialist team of lawyers can act on your behalf to vigorously defend your position. Our specialised team of solicitors, and paralegals will advise you of the defences available which include:
That the course of conduct was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime;
That the course of conduct was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment; or
That in the particular circumstances the pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable.
To be accused of committing an offence of harassment can be a daunting and stressful experience, we remain mindful as to the sensitivity of such matters and as such every step of the process is fully explained to our clients.
Each allegation of harassment is individual to the specifics of the matter, whilst we have covered the basic points of the elements of the offence, and the defence’s available, there may be other matters that arise due to the circumstances of the case. It could be the case that other legislation, such as the police powers, pursuant to The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, which provides the power of the police to direct a person to leave a designated area, are evoked as a consequence of an alleged offence.
If you believe that you have been the victim of harassment or stalking, or have been accused of such an offence, contact please contact us to see how we can help.
Please contact us on 0800 567 7595 or by email at [email protected]
Alternatively, you can contact each of our offices on 020 3292 1306 (London); 0121 259 0005 (Birmingham); 01223 420252 (Cambridge); 01865 784098 (Oxford); 01858 414284 (Market Harborough); 0116 208 1495 (Leicester).
OFFICES AND GEOGRAPHIC AREAS SERVICED BY US
We have offices in London, Birmingham, Cambridge, Oxford (all by appointment only), Leicester and our administrative office is in Market Harborough, Leicestershire.
All correspondence and post should be sent to our Administrative office in Market Harborough and we shall not be liable in the event that correspondence is sent elsewhere.
We provide legal services all over England and Wales.