Skip to the main content

**Content note: discussion of stalking, mention of sexual assault

What is Stalking?

The Law

Advice and Support

Support at UCL

What is Stalking?

Stalking can be very difficult to define precisely: perpetrators can use many different methods to harass and intimidate their targets. Stalking can involve: sending regular gifts, making unwanted or malicious communication (in person or online), damage to property, and physical or sexual assault. The perpetrator does not have to act violently for their behaviour for it to be classed as stalking. Stalking can be any such persistent and unwanted behaviour which causes fear and/or anxiety.

Anyone can be a target of stalking and it can occur over any time frame. Perpetrators are not always strangers; many perpetrators are friends, relatives, and ex-partners of their targets.

The Law

Stalking is a crime. In England and Wales stalking is listed as a specific offense under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

Under the law, it is not specifically defined, but the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 lists a series of behaviours associated with stalking, which include: following a person; loitering in public and private places; interfering with the property of a person; watching or spying on a person; contacting and attempting to contact a person by any means; and publishing material relating or claiming to relate to a person.

Stalking is defined as a ‘course of conduct’ which must involve at least two incidents of harassment. It is important to note that this list is not exhaustive, and courts are open to interpret other behaviours not listed above as stalking.

In Scotland, stalking was made a criminal offense under the Criminal Justice and Licensing Act 2010.

In Northern Ireland, stalkers can be prosecuted under the Protection from Harassment Order 1997.

Advice and Support

For support and advice about stalking, you can call the National Stalking Helpline  on 0808 802 0300. This number is free to call from both landlines and mobile phones.

If you think that you are being stalked, Paladin offers this advice:

Report action as early as possible to police, if you feel comfortable doing so. Inform others of what is happening.

          Ensure you get good practical advice – from dedicated helplines and charities.

          Proactive evidence collection – keep any evidence of stalking you may have.

          Overview of what is happening – keep a diary of incidents of harassment.

          Trust your instincts.

The Network for Surviving Stalking runs a website called ‘Scared of Someone?’  which has lots of advice about your options if you are experiencing stalking.

The National Stalking Helpline  has an extensive list of other charities which can offer advice and support here .

Support at UCL

You may also wish to speak to the UCL Women’s Officer ( or the UCL Student Mediator, Ruth Siddall, (  ) for advice and support about stalking.