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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 48196
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Please could I get a legal definition of harassment. 5

Customer Question

Hi, please could I get a legal definition of harassment.
5 years ago I went through a messy divorce and unfortunately my two children got caught in the middle. The ages of my children at the time were 16 and 11. For reasons that I have no idea, my children want no contact (perhaps influenced by their mother?). Anyway, I sent a very pleasant letter to my daughter just after the divorce and she reported me for harassment and I had informal visit from the police. Now after 5 years, I have sent my daughter 2 text messages over the past couple of months and this morning I have had another visit from the police request my attendance to the police station to formally questioned.
Is messaging my daughter twice this year and a Facebook message the back end of last year deemed has harassment? The messages were in no way threatening, they were just asking how she was and it would be great to hear from her. I've also been sending the christmas cards and birthdays.
Hope someone could answer this!
Regards
Ian
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a solicitor on this site and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.
The relevant legislation that deals with harassment is The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 in civil cases and The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 in criminal cases. The law states that a person must not pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another and which he or she knows or ought to know amounts to harassment. Although there is no definition of what specifically amounts to harassment, it would usually include alarming a person or causing them distress and must have occurred on at least two occasions. It could include just about anything as long as it is unwelcome to the other party. So for example if they have asked you not to contact them but you keep doing so that can amount to harassment, regardless of the nature of the messages. It is the simple act of contact that would be the harassing behaviour even if it was meant in a nice way.
Under criminal law, and if this is reported to the police who then take action, the punishment for harassment can be imprisonment and/or a fine. A court may also impose a restraining order for the purpose of protecting the victim.
In addition to criminal action, a civil claim can also be brought against a person who is alleged to be guilty of causing harassment. The courts would award compensation to the victim, something that is unlikely to happen if this is pursued as a criminal issue.
So if you have been explicitly asked not to contact them and you continue doing so, your actions could amount to harassment and you should consider carefully your future actions knowing that they could lead to legal issues between you and them.
I trust this has answered your query. I would be grateful if you could please take a second to leave a positive rating (selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts at the top of the page). If for any reason you are unhappy with my response or if you need me to clarify anything before you go - please get back to me on here and I will assist further as best as I can. Thank you
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Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hi Ben, thanks for the information.

I was question by the police on Sunday and am awaiting an outcome. There were things mention by my daughter in her statement which were not true - this has obviously come from my ex-wife.

One further question, when this blows over, would sending a letter to my daughter explaining my side of the situation, supplying her with evidence that she has got her facts wrong be classed as further harassment?

Many thanks

Ian

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
OK thank you please leave this with me I have meeting to attend this afternoon and will get back to you ASAP
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Hello again, if she has asked that you do not contact her at all, then sending this letter could also amount to harassment. Try not to go down the road of 'getting the last word in' or proving a point - it may be best just to let it go instead of risking further complaints against you