Essentially, you don’t. You avoid them as much as you can because in Britain, you must consider police your enemy. They are not on your side. They are on their own side.
(Note: Anything I say on this page won’t stop me from, say, buying donuts for random police officers when they’ve all been called back from leave and are working very long days out on the streets. I do my best to see them as individual people.)
The only good reason for going to a police station in Britain is when you need to do that to be able to make an insurance claim.
Police in Britain stopped investigating crimes against individuals at least 10 years ago because they lack the resources to do so. The only crime against an individual that they are still bound to look into is when that individual has been murdered or if the individual is a supermarket owner or the like they like and someone has stolen a sandwich because he or she was hungry and was, say, caught red-handed or recorded on CCTV.
Other than that, forget it. That does not have to leave you stranded in all cases in which you’d normally expect to be able to get assistance from the police officers whose salaries you pay for through your council tax, after all.
Below are some tips, first for if you are a crime victim and second for if police are targeting you, for instance, because you are a crime victim.
Here is the GOLDEN RULE:
If police officers knock on your door, never ever open the door. Under no circumstances.
(You can still talk with them through the closed door, if you feel that it’s useful or required.)
1. Are you the victim of a crime?
Unless you need to do this for the sake of an insurance claim, do not go to the police. If you go to the police, the officers may tell you that they will use the information you give them as intelligence (though they won’t tell you that they are more likely to use it against you than against the perpetrator of the crime(s) you are reporting).
In almost all cases, they will also tell you to go to your council (civic offices) and to your GP. Don’t take it personally when they do this, even though it may sound like they are suggesting that you need mental health assistance. (After all, how on earth can a GP help solve a burglary, for instance?) They say this to just about everyone all over the country. It’s nothing personal; it‘s merely national policy.
You can investigate and try to stop crimes having been or being perpetrated against you but you have to proceed very carefully.
- What you need to do first of all is print several copies of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. Tuck one away in each of your bags or suit pockets.
- Next, you write a letter to your local MP and any other politicians and/or journalists worth contacting. You explain to them what happened or is happening (the crime), in no more than one or two sentences, such as “My home was broken into” or “My daughter is being stalked. This has been going on for two years and last week the stalker broke into her home”. Then you write that you “will be approaching persons and taking actions for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime, pursuant to and in compliance with the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Section 1, subsection 3, sub a.” and that you are sending this letter to him or her for his or her information. Send this letter or these letters by Special Delivery. Yes, that will cost you a few bucks but it’s worth it.
- If the MP or anyone else you wrote to then asks or tells you to go to the police, ask the person in question to come with you.
- Use Word or any other program to type up the following text: “Pursuant to and in compliance with the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Section 1, subsection 3, sub a, I am approaching you for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime.”
- Print several copies of that text and always have them with you during your crime investigation. Before you say anything else, say this and hand the printout to anyone you want to speak with in relation to the crime in question.
- Also begin all your e-mails with that sentence if the e-mail is sent for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime.
- Remain reasonable at all times. That means, do not behave as if you are a police officer, do not get rude and do not lose your temper. You can certainly be firm. You are standing up for your rights. That is perfectly normal in many other countries and it’s a cry and shame that police in Britain don’t help you protect yours.
- Never undertake any of your crime investigation activities on your own, but always ensure that you have at least two witnesses, not from your family, but perhaps a colleague from work, a fellow member of a sports club you belong to or a neighbour or a client.
- If you do go to police, tell them as little as possible. They will use anything you report to them as “intelligence” and while they may inform you of that, what they won’t do is let you know that they may well use any information you give them against you. Police officers may act very friendly and reassuring, and talk about the action they will take, but when they do, they are usually just lying to you, unfortunately.
- The Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Section 1, subsection 3, sub b also means that it is very good (essential) to know the nature of the crime you are investigating, in legal terms. Look up which law applies to what happened, and why what someone did or does was or is a crime according to the law. You can go to the CAB or any other advice organisation, make some calls, see solicitors for a free half-hour consultation, drop in on a law clinic from your local law school and of course research it online and in books.
2. Are you being targeted by police?
British police officers these days seem to go after just about any person that they perceive as easy prey for their arrest (and prosecution) records and whose name and address they have. This could be someone who is probably poor or lower-class, someone who they suspect has a mental health problem and also someone who lives on his or her own or will likely only have kids in the house. So that there won’t be a partner who says “wait a minute!” and they only have to deal with one adult who police officers think will be intimated. Police officers know very well what effect they have on normal citizens and they exploit it when it serves them.
They also are more likely to go after people they don’t like, such as people who report serious crimes and are inexperienced enough to keep asking police officers what they are doing about it, particularly if the person lives on his or her own or will likely have only kids at home.
The problem with reporting a crime is that in the process, you give police officers a lot of information about yourself. They have your name and address now and know what you look like. By contrast, they very likely do not know the identity of the person who committed the crime or is committing the crimes you are reporting. They do now know also some of your personal circumstances, such as that you just broke off your relationship, got fired, just started a new job, whether you rent or own your home and things like that.
If you become the victim of a crime, no matter what cause of action you take (go to the police and/or investigate yourself), it raises the probability that police will start targeting you.
Under no circumstances report a crime and then keep calling to ask what the police officers are doing about it, even if a police officer has told you to do so. (Don’t investigate and report on your investigations either, not even if they have specifically asked you to do so.) All of this is bound to annoy them so much that you may well find them knocking on your door on Sunday morning at 7 am, when you innocently open the door and then find the door slammed into your face and yourself crushed onto the floor and arrested, your kids watching scared and helpless.
Unfortunately, that is the reality in Britain. It happened to Michael Doherty, for instance.
If you’re a woman, it may be more likely that police officers will call the local mental health hospital behind your back and suggest that you are mentally unwell. They may also pay your employer a visit and anyone else who suggesting to that you are not well in the head may disadvantage you.
That too is the reality of Britain today.
Do not open the door if police officers (are targeting you and) knock on your door. You do not have to open the door if police officers knock on your door, no matter what they tell you (with very few exceptions and in those cases, it makes no difference whether you open the door or not, so, don’t). That’s right.
Police officers can sound very convincing when they tell you all sorts of bullshit. Some of them are genuinely convinced that they know the law because they have this law book specifically for police in which they can look things up. If it says anything that does not suit them but would be to your advantage, they won’t tell you that. It will almost never come back to bite them anyway. In practice, police officers in Britain rarely have to adhere to the law, let alone administer it appropriately.
If you ever get arrested, don’t trust whoever shows up as duty solicitor either. He or she will not be interested in your rights. He or she will either want to get out of the police station as soon as possible or milk the circumstances for whatever reason. Of course, there are exceptions – GOOD and HONEST lawyers do exist; in fact, a few of your personal heroes may be lawyers – but under no circumstances assume that a duty solicitor will look out for you.
If you are investigating crime committed or being committed, someone may still call the police and say that you are harassing him or her. This is more likely if that person is the person who committed or has committed the crimes you are investigating, of course, because he or she knows that your powers are nowhere near those of police officers and may have more experience with police than you. He or she will want to make you go away and complaining about you is a possible approach to that.
That is particularly why you need to know what the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Section 1, subsection 3, sub a says so that you can say that and maybe even show the printout of that law. Do not count on a duty solicitor to do that for you!
The fact that you are investigating crime on your own already indicates that you are not a person in power, after all. It makes you easily dismissible in the eyes of the police and in the eyes of the duty solicitor. Stand your ground. Don’t let them walk all over you. (You were doing what police officers should be doing. It is not your fault that, as a rule, they no longer deal with crimes committed against individuals these days.)
Also, you have informed several persons such as for example your MP about what you were going to do and you have witnesses.
Last but not least, a bit of a warning. Shana Grice, a young woman who reported being stalked to police was accused by police of wasting police time police (and fined, I believe) before her stalker killed her. There are other women in Britain who were killed by their stalkers, and they too were often not taken seriously by police.
I know a woman who was in similar circumstances, in the Netherlands. Her ex-boyfriend started stalking her and strangled her almost to death one day. In stark contrast to British police, Dutch police did not dismiss her but were very helpful. They advised her to relocate to a town in which she did not know anyone so that her ex was least likely to look for her there.
She took the advice, even though it meant breaking off her Master’s. She moved to a town at quite a distance from where she used to be and also from where her family was, enrolled in a lower-level educational program, then enrolled in another Master’s and after that started a PhD track. She got that PhD and she’s also a mother now.
(He eventually tracked her down in her new town too, but it took him a long time, and by then, he was less angry. One of her house mates or neighbors found him on the doorstep one day, and convinced him to go back and leave the woman alone.)
If you are being stalked in a way that seriously worries you, do not investigate or try to stop it by yourself (and certainly don’t bother reporting it to British police, also because they are likely to inform your stalker of everything you told police, whether on purpose of accidentally). Do what Dutch police advised this young Dutchwoman.
Hopefully, you’ll never need to know any of the above.
If you do use any of the above, and you end up killed, stabbed, bullied, hacked, arrested or anything else that you would have preferred to avoid, then note that you cannot hold me liable for any of that. I am not a lawyer, certainly not within this context, and I am not in a position to shield you from all risk.
Like the woman I mentioned above – no, it wasn’t me; it concerns a much younger woman whose acquaintance I made when she was working on her PhD – I too have only very positive experiences with Dutch police, even in sensitive circumstances that could have easily created friction and for which the officers in question had no training. Hats off!
I have worked with Dutch police in a neighbourhood crime prevention initiative. I also have positive experiences with American police, but race riots broke out in the US city where I used to live only shortly after I left. As we all know, American police has its troubles too because there had been too many incidents in which innocent black persons were killed by police officers in that city.
I think such incidents are often the result of irrational fears on the side of the police officers who often work under a lot of tension. I have personally witnessed in the US that when I had to call police in highly suspicious circumstances, they seemed much more scared and nervous than I was (presumably because I was living in a Florida neighbourhood that didn’t have a good reputation at the time). They were also looking out for my safety extremely well and I noticed that with gratitude.
I wish I could be more positive about British police.
I post the following from the work of Dr Lorraine Sheridan, as this can be vital information to have.
Typology 4: Sadistic stalking (12.9%)
· victim is an obsessive target of the offender, and who’s life is seen as quarry and prey (incremental orientation)
· victim selection criteria is primarily rooted in the victim being:
(i) someone worthy of spoiling, i.e. someone who is perceived by the stalker at the commencement as being: – happy – ‘good’ – stable – content and
(ii) lacking in the victim’s perception any just rationale as to why she was targeted
· initial low level acquaintance
· apparently benign initially but unlike infatuation harassment the means of intervention tend to have negative orientation designed to disconcert, unnerve, and ergo take power away from the victim
– notes left in victim’s locked car in order to unsettle target (cf. billet-doux of infatuated harassment)
– subtle evidence being left of having been in contact with the victim’s personal items e.g. rifled underwear drawer, re-ordering/removal of private papers, cigarette ends left in ash trays, toilet having been used etc.
– ‘helping’ mend victims car that stalker had previously disabled · thereafter progressive escalation of control over all aspects (i.e. social, historical, professional, financial, physical) of the victim’s life
· offender gratification is rooted in the desire to extract evidence of the victim’s powerlessness with inverse implications for his power => sadism
· additional implication => self-perpetuating in desire to hone down relentlessly on individual victim(s)
· emotional coldness, deliberateness and psychopathy (cf. the heated nature of ex-partner harassment)
· tended to have a history of stalking behaviour and the controlling of others · stalker tended to broaden out targets to family and friends in a bid to isolate the victim and further enhance his control
· communications tended to be a blend of loving and threatening (not hate) designed to de-stabilise and confuse the victim
· threats were either overt (“We’re going to die together”) or subtle (delivery of dead roses)
· stalker could be highly dangerous
– in particular with psychological violence geared to the controlling of the victim with fear, loss of privacy and the curtailment of her social world
· physical violence was also entirely possible
– especially by means which undermine the victim’s confidence in matters normally taken for granted e.g. disabling brake cables, disarming safety equipment, cutting power off
· sexual content of communications was aimed primarily to intimidate through the victim’s humiliation, disgust and general undermining of self-esteem
· the older the offender, the more likely he would have enacted sadistic stalking before and would not be likely to offend after 40 years of age if not engaged in such stalking before
· victim was likely to be re-visited after a seeming hiatus
Case management implications
· should be taken very seriously
· acknowledge from outset that the stalker activity will be very difficult to eradicate
· acknowledge that there is no point whatsoever in appealing to the offender – indeed will exacerbate the problem
· never believe any assurances, alternative versions of events etc. which are given by the offender
· however, record them for use in legal action later
· the victim should be given as much understanding and support as can be made available
· the victim should not be given false or unrealistic assurance or guarantees that s/he will be protected
· the victim should carefully consider relocation. Geographical emphasis being less on distance per se, and more on where the offender is least able to find the victim
· the police should have in mind that the sadistic stalker will be likely to:
(i) carefully construct and calculate their activity to simultaneously minimise the risk of intervention by authorities while retaining maximum impact on victim,
(ii) be almost impervious to intervention since the overcoming of obstacles provides
(iii) new and potent means of demonstrating the victim’s powerlessness (ergo self-perpetuating) and,
(iiii) if jailed will continue both personally and vicariously with the use of a network.