Stalking is a crime. It is an offence under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007. Stalking is defined under this law and includes:
‘the following of a person about or the watching or frequenting of the vicinity of, or an approach to a person’s place of residence, business or work or any place that a person frequents for the purposes of any social or leisure activity’.
Stalking involves a persistent course of conduct or actions by a person which are intended to maintain contact with or exercise power and control over another person. These actions cause distress, loss of control, fear or harassment to another person and occur more than once.
Stalking can involve threats or sexual innuendo and the stalker generally tries to intimidate or induce fear in the person they are stalking. The person being stalked may only realise they are being stalked once they identify a pattern of strange or suspicious incidents occurring, such as:
- phone calls
- text messages
- messages left on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter etc.
- notes left on the their car
- strange or unwanted gifts left at their home
- an awareness that they are being followed
- being continually stared at or gestured to by another person.
The person being stalked can often develop a sense of loss of control over their lives and can be forced into changing their routine and behaviours.
The criminal offence of stalking is contained under section 13 Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007. To prove an offence of stalking the police must be able to produce evidence to a court. The police evidence must prove that the accused person stalked another person with the intention of causing another person to fear physical or mental harm.
Victims of Stalking
Anyone can be a victim of stalking. People who engage in stalking behaviour do not necessarily need to be related to the victim.
If you are a victim of stalking, you need to understand that you are not responsible for the behaviour of the stalker and that you should not be blamed in any way. If you are a victim of stalking, you should report it to the police so that there can be an investigation.
If you have recently left an abusive relationship, you may be at risk of being stalked and you need to make sure you are aware of what to do if this occurs.
You may be a victim of stalking if someone is:
- Repeatedly following or spying on you
- Repeatedly calling your home and/or work
- Repeatedly sending you unwanted or offensive emails, letters, text messages etc.
- Leaving unwanted gifts or items for you
- Vandalising or damaging your property
- Threatening you or someone close to you
- Repeated showing up for no legitimate reason at places you go to. For example, the gym, dinner with friends, shopping, movies etc
Stalking is a crime. It needs to be reported to the police to prevent the offender from committing a more serious crime.
Making a Record of the Stalking
It is important that you document all incidents that you believe may be stalking and report them all to the police. Any police officer at a police station can take a report of stalking from you.
If you believe that you are being stalked it is important that you keep a diary of the specific incidents. You should keep information on the date, time, what happened, any names of any witnesses. If somebody is using technology to stalk you, you need to keep copies of any emails, text messages or anything else they sent you.
Do not delete emails and text messages, as these may be used as evidence. Keep copies of everything so that you can provide police with full details about what has been happening to you.
If you receive and packages or gifts that you believe are from the stalker, do not handle them as they can be used to obtain forensic evidence.
Documenting every incident will assist the police in forming a strong case.
Stalking often involves a long term pattern of events which is why each and every incident and experience should be recorded and reported to the police.
Just be aware that one incident on its own may not be considered stalking, so it’s important that each incident you experience should be recorded and reported to the police so that it can be identified that there is a pattern occurring. Make a record of every incident of stalking no matter how insignificant you may think it is or how many incidences there are.
A good way to document incidents of stalking would be to keep a stalking incident log. This could include the following information:
STALKING INCIDENT LOG
Date of Birth:
Telephone numbers including home, work and mobile:
Aboriginality or Ethnicity:
Do you have a current Apprehended Domestic Violence Order?: Yes or No
Offender Information (if possible provide police with a photo of the offender)
Name of offender:
Nicknames, aliases, street names:
Gender of Offender:
Date of Birth:
Other addresses where the offender might be located:
Telephone numbers including home, work and mobile if known:
Email address if known:
Aboriginality or Ethnicity:
Employer’s telephone number:
Car details if known (including registration number, colour, model, type):
Does he or she have a weapon, and if so what type? Yes or No
Is the person licensed to carry a firearm? Yes or No
Do you know if the person is subject to an Apprehended Violence Order? Yes or No
Do you know if he or she has been arrested in the past? Yes or No
If yes, what was he or she arrested for?
Record each individual incident of stalking as follows:
INCIDENT No. 1:
Witnesses if any:
Witnesses contact details if known (including phone numbers):
Description of the incident (what happened):
Messages, emails, faxes, letters, items left for you (keep all of these – the police may be able to use them as evidence):
Reported to police at (name of police station):
Name of police officer reported to:
Date reported to police:
Police event number (if known):
Record each separate stalking incident using the above format (i.e. Incident No 2:, Incident No 3: etc)
Keeping Yourself Safer
Inform people you know that you are being stalked and ask them not to give out any information about you to other people. This is so the stalker cannot get more information about you or your movements from them. Let others know what is going on in your life, as an effective measure against stalking is to involve others in what is happening to you.
Apprehended Violence Order (AVOs)
Police have an obligation to protect people from violence and can apply for an AVO on your behalf. Before an AVO can be applied for by a police officer, a number of requirements must be met. A police officer investigating your matter must make an application for an AVO if they have suspicion or belief that you have been a victim of stalking or that it is likely to occur.
If you do not want the police to make an application for an AVO, the police officer may still be obligated to apply for an AVO on your behalf. If you have any concerns or questions in relation to an AVO application that has been applied for on behalf, you can contact the Domestic Violence Liaison Officer (DVLO) at your local police station.