How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Jo C. Your Own Question
Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71042
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
Type Your Law Question Here...
Jo C. is online now

Forcing Police Take Action, Harassment, Private Prosecutions

This answer was rated:

Forcing Police to take action, Harassment, Private Prosecutions

Please do Not answer in Chat mode (compatibility problems)

We have a mentally ill resident who has been targeted with harassment for 8 years. Last Saturday a neighbour pulled out a large kitchen knife and threatened to kill his gardeners who were tending his garden because he is too scared to do it himself. The Council have always failed to take action about lower level Anti-social behaviour targeted at him. The police have failed to take action against the more serious harassment and threats of murder. The latest incident was reported, but the police refused investigate it, take witness statements or even give the incident a crime reference number. They just closed the incident down as "solved". There is a lot more details to this, but no space here for all of it. Complaining to the police or IPCC has so far been a waist of time. "Safeguarding" meetings have rarely been attended by all agencies and never resulted in any action being taken. The police say it is a mental health issue (but there are witnesses, videos, recordings...). The mental health team say it is a police matter. Both point to each other and do nothing.


1) Is pulling a knife out at someone a crime - if yes, what would the possible charges be? Under which laws?

2) Is this a Crime or Harassment? Does action against the perpetrator have to be started within 3 months or, if the police are slow to act, can it be started later?

3) Can we force the Police to issue a Crime Reference Number?

4) Can we force the Police to investigate the matter, take witness statements, refer the matter to the CPS to consider prosecution?

5) How might we go about mounting a private prosecution?

6) What category of solicitor should we seek to approach to address the problems outlined in 1) - 4) above?

The more detailed your answer, the bigger the bonus I will give. Thanks

Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What type of accommodation is this? I presume it didn't happen in a public place?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

No accommodation. It was in a public place.

It was in the street, down a Council controlled/gated alleyway and at the front door of the person being harassed and threatened with murder with a knife

The gardeners were seeking to trim a hedge owned by the victim that the Council have stated is his responsibility to keep cut back. The hedge was on the back alleyway side. The Council gave the victim a key to the alleyway for this purpose (and more)

All 3 gardeners and the victim were and remain willing to give statements. The police claim that they have refused to give statements. The police have refused to take statements from the gardeners when asked to do so by the gardeners. The police have closed down the incident without recording it as a crime.

Sorry for the delay.
If this is a public place then this is at the very least a possession of an offensive weapon.
There are also some public order offences. There may be a threat to kill depending on his state of mind and what they can prove on that point. It is quite unlikely they would charge him with threats to kill. That is very hard to prove and not often used.
The fact he isn't charged at all is a nonsense.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Can you please answer the questions one-by-one


1. Yes as I said.
2. No. One incident is not sufficient to make out harassment. There may have been other incidents but thy weren't reported. They can be reported but they havent been.
3. No. You can complain but they do retain discretion to refuse a crime report. Complaining often does achieve the result you want though.
4. No for the same reason.
5. Anybody can bring a private prosecution. You just lay a complaint to the magistrates court. The risk is costs and that Cps may take it over and drop it. That is not likely though. Even with really controversial stuff they do not do that.
6. I'm not sure what you mean? If you can give me more information I would be able to offer more.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

1) What criminal charges could be made? I need specifics

2) There have been multiple incidents. Is this a crime or harassment? Is there a 3 month limit to taking action on harassment even if the police are slow to act (and only act after a complaint or judicial review)? I need specifics

3) OK

4) OK

5) What type of solicitor (which area of law) should I look for to undertake private prosecutions and force the police to take action in the case of a vulnerable adult?


1. As I have said really, it is a possession of an offensive weapon. It is also a threats to kill or a s4 or s5 public order although the public order would be easier to prove.
2. There isn't a three month limit. If there have been multiple incidents involving the same person then you could argue it is a harassment. If this was a violent incident or a threat of violence then it is a s4 harassment which carries no time limit at all.
5. You really want a criminal practitioner. Normally firms of solicirors don't prosecute by definition. There are some though that are used by private prosecutors like the rspca and at least they have prosecution experience.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

1) Sorry, but we will need to be "armed" with specifics when we complain to the police, take private prosecutions etc. What law or regulations etc makes it an offence to be in possession of an offensive weapon? What law etc defines when a kitchen knife is just a kitchen knife and when it is a weapon? What law etc makes it an offence to threaten to kill and what makes it difficult to prove. What does "S4" and "S5" public order [offence?] mean and where what law, regulation, guidance or whatever does this come from?

2) When seeking an injunction under the Harassment Act there is mention that the Judge will only deal with it, if it is ongoing, which means there must have been incidents in the last 3 months. Are you saying that if we do not seek the injunction, but a criminal prosecution for harassment that then the 3 months time limit does not apply?

5) How would I go about searching for a "Criminal Prosecutor" which does private prosecutions? The Law Society were no use - they needed me to specify "areas of practice" etc

1. I'm not sure what specifics you want to know about this other than the offence and the legislation?
2. If you are seeking an injunction then that is different. You were asking about about a criminal prosecution. The 3 more limit above doesn't apply to s4 harassment. There is a limit upon s2 harassment but that is six months and it runs from te date of last incident so you are in time.
3. The only way to do that is to search at the law society. It will depend on your area. Their records department should keep details of practice areas. Or you could use a barrister under public access and prosecution experience is easy to find because they are garded by cps. the bar standards Board on 0207(###) ###-####would give you details if you ask for records
Jo C. and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you