It is a criminal offence to pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another person, which that person knows, or ought to know, amounts to harassment. This can include alarming a person or causing them distress. There must be two separate occasions where it is said someone has carried out conduct which amounts to harassment.
When a single act alone is alleged to have occurred the police can issue a ‘harassment warning’. They will visit the individual and issue this warning to them. The warning is designed to make it known to the individual that their act has caused harassment and is to try and deter the individual from carrying out a further act. If a further act is alleged the police can go on to arrest and charge for the offence of harassment.
Although harassment warnings are not convictions or cautions they do appear on an Enhanced Criminal Records Bureau (ECRB) check.
It appears that sometimes people feel that the police can issue warnings without investigating the matter thoroughly and taking into account that the individual receiving the warning is disputing the matter. If a person was disputing the charge of harassment then they would have the right to a trial and have their story heard in Court, which could in turn result in the matter being dropped altogether. Unfortunately because the warnings are not convictions or cautions there is no current procedure in place to appeal the warnings. If the police receive a complaint of harassment from a victim this will be treated as a form of evidence although it may be their word against the individual’s. The police may then visit the individual concerned to issue a warning. If the individual is disputing the matter, for instance, they are saying that they have not contacted the victim, they should make this known to the police. It may be that the police officer will then look in to this matter further and decide in the end not to issue the official warning.
If you need further advice on harassment warnings or any other matters please contact our criminal team at either our Leicester office on 0116 255 4855 or our Loughborough office 01509 610312