Stalking is not legally defined but section 2A (3) of the PHA 1997 lists a number of examples of behaviours associated with stalking. The list is not an exhaustive one but gives an indication of the types of behaviour that may be displayed in a stalking offence. The listed behaviours are:
(a) following a person,
(b) contacting, or attempting to contact, a person by any means,
(c) publishing any statement or other material relating or purporting to relate to a person, or purporting to originate from a person,
(d) monitoring the use by a person of the internet, email or any other form of electronic communication,
(e) loitering in any place (whether public or private),
(f) interfering with any property in the possession of a person,
(g) watching or spying on a person.
Harassment that includes one or more of the above features is not automatically stalking. The course of conduct, assessed in the round, must fit the generally received interpretation of the word 'stalking'.
Prosecutors should note that the list in s.2A(3) is not exhaustive and it will be open to courts to consider other acts by a defendant and conclude that those acts constitute stalking even if they are not on the s.2A(3) list. It is likely that the defence may argue particular acts "associated with stalking" should not be classed as stalking but harassment and that their client is guilty of harassment, not stalking. Where such an argument is raised, prosecutors should state that this should be a decision of fact for the magistrates to decide on. It is therefore imperative that the correct charge is laid from the outset. Section 2A is a summary offence and a person guilty of the offence of stalking is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine.
As a summary only offence, the section 2A offence requires an information or complaint to be laid within 6 months from the time when the offence was committed, or the matter of complaint arose. The 6 months' limitation should run from the last date of the course of conduct alleged.
Prosecutors should note that an integral part of the stalking offence is establishing that harassment has taken place. In determining whether the defendant ought to know that the course of conduct amounts to harassment, the question to be considered is whether a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think the course of conduct amounted to harassment of the other.
(Source: Crown Prosecution Service)