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Harassment by Email or Texts

Harassment could occur by posting online and by sending a text or an email

Harassment by email or texts happens when sending threatening, sexually explicit, indecent or grossly offensive messages.

The sending of the email or text does not need to be directed at the intended victim. Sending harassing emails or texts to a third party could constitute the criminal offence and civil wrongdoings of harassment .

What criminal offences might be committed by sending emails or texts

What to do if you are harassed by email or texts

What is electronic communication harassment

Are you likely to get help from the police for harassment by email or text

What to do if the police do not help you

What criminal offences might be committed by sending emails or texts

The first criminal offence to consider following the sending of harassing emails or texts is harassment under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

If the nature of the harassment by email and text is explicit, the sender could be committing the additional criminal offence of sending a message which is indecent or grossly offensive and this could result in a criminal offence under the Malicious Communications Act 1988.

What to do if you are harassed by email or texts

If you are continuing to receive emails and texts from someone after you have asked them to stop, you should report their action to the police.

If you are being bombarded by unwanted emails and texts from someone, it may be making you feel anxious, irritated and frustrated. You may have pleaded with the harasser to stop initially and even if they didn't, you may have felt that eventually they will stop because if you don't respond to a harasser, the person would get bored but that was days, weeks, even months ago.

You may have already gone to the police about the harassment by email or texts, only to be fobbed off, as many police forces do not know how to specifically deal with any crime that occurs via emails or anything online, as they believe that the internet is not their ‘jurisdiction’.

The internet does not have a specific jurisdiction but if you live physically in that police force’s area, it is an issue that they must deal with, so do not give up. If you are feeling alarmed, distressed and harassed by texts, emails and anything else that you are being bombarded with, via public electronic communication, it is a criminal offence. Take the evidence to the police station and leave it with them and insist on registering a formal complaint. The police will have to open an investigation if you leave the files at the front desk of the police station, so don't leave without doing this.

What is electronic communication harassment

Electronic harassment is harassment of an individual where the harasser uses electronic means of communications to effect the harassment. Electronic harassment could be done by using mobile phone communications, including text messages, emails, social media and blogs.

Are you likely to get help from the police for harassment by email or text

If the police decide to investigate your complaint, a police officer should visit the harasser (if you know who the harasser is) and issue the harasser with a formal harassment notice. In the context of emails and texts, a course of conduct in harassment must involve at least two emails or two texts being sent to the same person, as is sending the same email to two people. It doesn't need to be the same on both occasions but they need to be related and not two isolated incidents.

So, sending somebody a threatening email and later sending them a threatening text message would satisfy the requirements of harassment. Sending an harassing email to you, and a second one to your mother or to your wife, would also do. The harassment doesn't have to be threatening, either - just consistent and causing you anxiety. 

The fear of retaliation and further harassment can sometimes impede someone that is a target of online harassment, (who may know their online abuser), from taking it further. How harassment offenders react when they have been tracked down, depends on their psychological makeup and characteristics, but it may only take one letter from us, to make the harassment stop. If it requires more, then we will pursue it. We do not what needs to be done to give you back your life.

What to do if the police does not help you 

If you find the police unhelpful, you should seek legal advice from an harassment lawyer. The harassment lawyer may ask you to go back to the police with certain information that could help you convince the police to take your matter more seriously. If the police are having issues with obtaining evidence or proving who your harasser is, your specialist harassment lawyer should be able to help you in advising you on various disclosures to enable you to prove who your harasser is. The lawyer will then either pass the information on to the police, or pursue on your behalf civil harassment injunctions where you will also be able to claim damages to compensate you for the distress, as well as some of your legal costs in having to pursue your harasser through the courts.  

For more advice, specific to harassment by email or by text, get in touch today with our friendly team of internet law experts, fee call on 0800 612 7211.

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