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What is harassment?

Harassment is defined as physical, verbal and non-verbal actions directed at or towards a person by another, which causes that person alarm, distress, fear and/or a fear of violence. It is both a criminal offence and a civil action under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

Offenders will behave in a way which makes you feel distressed, humiliated or threatened. It could be someone you know, like a neighbour or people from your local area or it could be a stranger – for example, someone on the bus.

Examples of harassment can include:

  • Unwanted phone calls, texts, letters, emails or visits
  • Abuse and bullying online
  • Stalking
  • Verbal abuse and threats
  • Smashing windows or using dogs to frighten you.

Harassment is different to someone causing a general nuisance or a feeling of annoyance, irritation or resentment. Under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, it is an offence for a person to pursue a course of conduct that amounts to harassment of another individual, and that they know (or ought to know) amounts to harassment.

What can you do?

The most important thing to do is to not reply or retaliate. If you can, try and keep a diary of incidents, including what happened and how it made you feel.

If you think you’re being harassed because of your disability, race, religion, transgender identity or sexual orientation, you can report the harassment to the police as a hate incident or crime. More details here.

For help & support

If you, or someone you know, is affected by any of the issues on this page, 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 on this page.

Report stalking or harassment

If you wish to report incidents of stalking or harassment, please contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 or if it’s an emergency, always call 999.

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