What is criminal harassment (stalking)?
Section 264 of the Criminal Code of Canada describes it as engaging in conduct that causes another person reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them. Prohibited conduct includes:
- repeatedly following from place to place the other person or anyone known to them;
- repeatedly communicating with, either directly or indirectly, the other person or anyone known to them;
- besetting or watching the dwelling-house, or place where the other person, or anyone known to them, resides, works, carries on business or happens to be; or
- engaging in threatening conduct directed at the other person or any member of their family.
According to the Canadian Department of Justice:
Criminal harassment, which includes “stalking,” is a crime. While many crimes are defined by conduct that results in a very clear physical outcome (for example, murder), the offence of criminal harassment prohibits deliberate conduct that is psychologically harmful to others. Criminal harassment often consists of repeated conduct that is carried out over a period of time and that causes its targets to reasonably fear for their safety but does not necessarily result in physical injury. It may be a precursor to subsequent violent and/or lethal acts.
How should I prepare before I contact the police?
If possible, bring a written statement with you and include a detailed description or a photo of the individual that is harassing or stalking you. Bring any notes regarding past incidents or any threatening letters, emails, texts, pictures, social media messages or voicemails. It is important to try and keep detailed notes about the harassment and to keep any text messages, emails, gifts, letters or copies of communications that have been sent by the individual that is harassing or stalking you.
For more information about creating a stalking logbook, reducing risks, and reporting to the police, please refer to the following documents:
Government of Canada. Criminal Code of Canada, R.S.C. 1985, c.46, s.264(1-2). http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-46/section-264.html.
Government of Canada. Department of Justice. A Handbook for Police and Crown Prosecutors on Criminal Harassment. 2017. http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/rp-pr/cj-jp/fv-vf/har/part1.html.