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Every day, seemingly lawful actions such as sending text or email, making phone calls, posting messages on social media sites or sending private messages can become a stalking offence if they occur twice or more and if the perpetrator knew, or ought to have known, that their actions would cause fear and alarm.  

What is stalking?

The following are some examples of stalking behaviours:

  • Sending unwanted letters or cards
  • Sending unwanted emails, texts of social media posts
  • Making unwanted phone calls
  • Delivering unwanted gifts to a workplace or home
  • Waiting outside someone’s home or workplace
  • Following someone or spying on them
  • Sharing intimate pictures of someone, without their consent e.g. via text, on a web/social media site
  • Posting information, publicly about someone on web/social media sites
  • Making public accusations
  • Making threats.

Stalking can also be a form of domestic abuse. Those experiencing stalking, may also be exposed to other forms of domestic abuse too. Please see our Protection from Abuse resources for more support and guidance. 

Despite its prevelance and the harm it can cause, stalking is a crime that is often not reported to the police. It is believed that people don’t report for 3 reasons:

  • People who experience stalking are unaware that they can get help
  • People who experience stalking do not have the confidence to come forward to the police
  • When it is reported, historically, authority figures, have not realised they are dealing with a stalking crime and have dismissed the report.

Physical, Psychological and Social Effects of Stalking

It is estimated that stalking affects approximately 1.5 million people each year. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 12 men will be affected at some point in their lifetime. It can have a very profound physical, psychological, emotional and socially traumatic effect.

Effects can include:

  • Sleep disturbance
  • Panic attacks
  • Increased risk of being physical attacked by stalker (Women are more at risk)
  • Increased risk or being killed by stalker (Women are more at risk).
Psychological and emotional
  • Intense feelings of fear and anxiety
  • Feelings of guilt and shame
  • Feelings of terror
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Agoraphobia
  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Thoughts of hopelessness and suicide.
  • Reluctance to leave the house
  • Difficulty in forming new friendships and relationships
  • Damaged relations with families and friends
  • Loss or change of Job
  • Having to move home
  • Financial ramifications and hardship.

Online and cyber-stalking

Cyber-stalking can have a very serious impacts on those who experience it. It can become a constant presence in the person’s life.

What is cyber-stalking?

Cyberstalking can include the following:

  • Sending unwanted messages on a social media account
  • Sending unwanted texts and emails
  • Making malicious claims about a person online
  • Gaining unauthorised access to online accounts – including social media, email and online bank accounts
  • Gaining unauthorised access to someone’s mobile phone/mobile devices so that they can track phone calls, texts and location at any given time.

This can become extremely invasive of someone’s life and they may need to make significant changes to their day to day routines and online security measures.

Where to get help

If you believe you are being cyber-stalked, it is essential that you contact Police Scotland to report this. You will also need to get expert help as quickly as possible too. The following link can help you get this support: The Cyber Helpline. Further support organisations are listed at the bottom of the page.

NHSGGC strategy for managing stalking – guidance

NHSGGC uses the following strategy to help support staff who are being stalked:

  • Promote the law and people’s lawful rights in relation to stalking
  • Identify, record and report incidents of stalking
  • Implement best practice in managing/reducing cyber/online stalking 
  • Promote and adopt safety strategies
  • Provide signposting to NHSGGC services to support those exposed to stalking
  • Provide signposting to Police Scotland and third sector organisations who specialise in supporting those who are exposed to stalking.
1. Promote the law and people lawful rights in relation to stalking

The Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010 makes any form or stalking a criminal offence. This can include, seemingly, harmless and subtle behaviours.

For example, a text message saying ‘you looked nice when I saw you earlier’ seems trivial, but if it is intended to cause fear and alarm (or the perpetrator should have known that it would) and it happens, at least, twice, then it can be classified as stalking and becomes a criminal offence.

(Please note – if this only happens once, it would not be counted as a stalking offence, at that stage. Instead, it would be counted as an incident of abuse and harassment under the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010) and you wold still be within your rights to report it to the police).

You always have a lawful right to report incidents of stalking (and abuse and harassment) to the Police. This is always the case, irrespective of the alleged perpetrators, personal circumstances, or other people’s opinions.

You can report any incident of stalking to the police, online, or you can contact them on 101, or 999, in the case of an emergency.

The following links can provide you with more information about your lawful rights:

NHSGGC’s Staff Witness Support Service can also provide support and information to any member of staff who may need to go to court.

2. Identify, record and report incidents of stalking

This is also called ‘building a case’. In order to do this, it is essential that you record any and all incidents where you believe a stalking incident has occurred – no matter how, seemingly, insignificant the incident may be. To do this you should keep a safe record of the following details:

  • When did it happen?
  • Where did it happen?
  • What happened?
  • Who was it?
  • What details do you have about the person?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • Were there any witnesses?
  • What did they see?
  • What did you do after?
  • Do you have any video, photo, screenshot evidence?

FollowIt App

If you are a woman aged 18 years or above, the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre have developed the following app: ‘FollowItApp’.

This app can be used to help you record any relevant details, safely and securely. It has been designed in collaboration with The Crown Prosecution Service, Police Scotland and other stakeholders including Rape Crisis Scotland and Scottish Women’s Aid, to ensure that it meets the needs of women who are being stalked and that it is compliant with Scot’s Law.   

In addition the Suzy Lampugh Trust, also provides guidance, resources and apps that can help anyone record any relevant details of stalking incidents. Information about personal safety apps can be found in their ‘Help and Advice’ section

It is then essential that you report these incidents to the Police either online, via 101 or 999 (in the case if an emergency).

If incidents occur within NHS property, or is associated with your work, you should also complete a Datix incident report.

3. Implement best practice in managing/reduce cyber/online Stalking 

Cyberstalking can be very traumatic and can has severe repercussions on those who experience it. It is essential that you take, immediate steps to secure your online identity and accounts. As a well as taking the steps outlined here, you should also refer to our Online and Cyber Stalking Resources page for advice.

4. Promote and adopt safety strategies

If you are being stalked, it is vital that you take steps to promote your safety. Unfortunately, these can sometimes can significant effects on your daily life and routines, but they may be needed to ensure your safety. As well as the measures already outlined here e.g. recording & reporting incidents, contacting the police and protecting your online identity you may need to consider the following: Change your daily routine Inform people you trust of your concerns Record and report incidents to the Police Change your online passwords and use a password manager to protect them Take advice from specialist services

Additionally, line managers may need to adopt flexible work patterns and arrangements for any staff member(s) who are being stalked this could include, altering the staff members start and finish times, moving them a more secure work base & giving them access to additional technology (mobile phones, alarms, Reliance devices)

This must always involve the person who is being stalked and they must be central to the decision making process.

5. Provide signposting to NHSGGC services that support those exposed to stalking

NHSGGC has a number of different services who can offer support to you if you believe you are being stalked. These are:

6. Provide signposting to Police Scotland and third sector organisations who specialise in supporting those who are exposed to stalking

As a part of NHSGGC’s commitment to supporting our staff who are being stalked, we want to establish better relationships with Police Scotland and other Third Sector organisations that specialise in supporting those affected by stalking. Part of that includes providing you with a route to access to those services. The list below are public and voluntary bodies that can provide you with expert support and guidance:

Specialist support and advice

NHSGGC want all our employees to know that we take safety and well-being of our staff extremely seriously and will offer all relevant support to staff who are being, or believe they are being, stalked.

Contact the police

Wherever an employee is being stalked, or believes that they are being stalked, we want to support them to report this to the police as soon as possible.

  • Report online to Police Scotland
  • Call the Police on 101 (or 999, in the event of an emergency)
  • Visit your local Police station to speak to an officer in person.
NHSGGC support

Any member of staff, who believes they are being stalked should contact the Occupational Health Service and the Health and Safety Service for advice, guidance and support.

Specialist support

Additional Information