Steps to stop harassment
If you, or someone you know, is being stalked or harassed it can be very distressing and frightening. You do not have to put up with being harassed or stalked at your home, in public, or at work and there are steps you can take to put a stop to the behaviour. There are steps you can take if you are being harassed or stalked.
If your stalker is a relative, expartner or someone you have had a domestic relationship with and you are concerned that they will be violent towards you, contact the police. The police may issue a temporary Police Safety Order (PSO) if they have reasonable grounds to believe that domestic violence either has, or may, occur.
The person bound by the PSO must leave your address, and:
Must not assault, threaten, intimidate or harass you, or encourage others to do so;
Must not follow, stop or contact you;
Must surrender all firearms and their firearms licence to the Police. A PSO can be issued for up to five days. The PSO also protects any children living with you. You can also apply to the Court for a Protection Order. You must show that there has been domestic violence (which includes physical, sexual and psychological abuse) and that the order is needed to protect you.
The person bound by the Protection Order:
Must not abuse or threaten you or your children, or encourage others to do so;
Must not damage, or threaten to damage, your property;
Must surrender all firearms, and their firearms licence will also be suspended. You can also ask for non-contact conditions, for example, that they not come on to your property, loiter in your neighbourhood, impede your travel, or contact you.
If there is a risk of harm to you or your children the court may make an order almost immediately.
If your stalker is a stranger or neighbour, then the Harassment Act may apply to you. There must be at least two acts of harassment within a 12 month period.
Harassment includes following you, entering your property without permission, unwanted phone calls or letters, loitering outside your home or work, or anything that makes you fear for your safety. You may then apply to the Court for a Restraining Order preventing all contact between the stalker and you. If you do not know the person’s
‘‘You do not have to put up with inappropriate behaviour.’’
name, you can ask the Police to verify the person’s identity.
The Court must be satisfied that your circumstances would cause distress to a reasonable person and that an order is necessary to protect you from further harassment.
Unlike a Protection Order it is not possible to obtain a Restraining Order at short notice. If your harasser is your employer, a representative of your employer, one of your employer’s customers or clients, or a colleague, and you are encountering sexual or racial harassment, the Employment Relations Act may apply to you.
You may be able to pursue a personal grievance against your employer if they harass you, or someone else does and your employer does not take the necessary action. These situations can be extremely upsetting and stressful but you do not have to put up with inappropriate behaviour.
Column courtesy of Rainey Collins Lawyers phone 0800 733 484.
If you have a legal inquiry you would like discussed in this column please email Alan on email@example.com