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Articles regarding Family Law

Guidance about Harassment and Stalking

An increasing number of the people who come to us for help and support are telling us that they are being threatened with allegations of Harrassment or Stalking. 

To help people to have a better understanding of the issues we've compiled the following brief guide from the Crown Prosecution Service website.

Anyone faced with allegations against them MUST seek professional legal advice and in the first instance look at the CPS guidance in full which is available here:

 

 

THE CHARITY CONDEMNS ALL FORMS OF VIOLENCE INCLUDING HARASSMENT AND STALKING

 

Harassment

The term harassment is used to cover the 'causing alarm or distress' offences under section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 as amended (PHA), and 'putting people in fear of violence' offences under section 4 of the PHA. The term can also include harassment by two or more defendants against an individual or harassment against more than one victim.

Although harassment is not specifically defined it can include repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and contacts upon a victim in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person.

The elements of the section 2 offence are:

  • a course of conduct;
  • which amounts to harassment of another; and
  • which the defendant knows, or ought to know amounts to harassment of another.

Three defences are available to the section 2 offence:

  • that the course of conduct was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime;
  • that it was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment; (*see below) or
  • that in the particular circumstances the pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable.

(*) AN EXAMPLE OF A 'CONDITION' COULD BE WHEN ATTENDING AT A PROPERTY TO COLLECT A CHILD FOR CONTACT UNDER THE TERMS OF AN ORDER FROM A FAMILY COURT.

The elements of the section 4 offence are:

  • a course of conduct;
  • which causes another to fear that violence will be used against him; and
  • which the defendant knows or ought to know will cause another to fear that violence will be used against him; and
  • the defendant ought to know that his course of conduct will cause another to fear that violence will be used against them if a reasonable person in possession of the same information would think that the course of conduct would cause the other so to fear on that occasion.

Section 4 also includes the following statutory defences. It is for the defendant to show that:

  • the course of conduct was pursued for the purpose of preventing or detecting crime;
  • the course of conduct was pursued under any enactment or rule of law or to comply with any condition or requirement imposed by any person under any enactment; or
  • pursuit of the course of conduct was reasonable for the protection of him or herself or another or for the protection of her, his or another's property.

 

Stalking

The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 created two new offences of stalking by inserting new sections 2A and 4A into the PHA 1997. The two offences are in force from 25 November 2012 and provide further options for prosecutors to consider when selecting charges. The Home Office have issued guidelines and this can be accessed by clicking here.

 

Whilst there is no strict legal definition of 'stalking', section 2A (3) of the PHA 1997 sets out examples of acts or omissions which, in particular circumstances, are ones associated with stalking. These include: physical following; contacting, or attempting to contact a person by any means (this may be through friends, work colleagues, family or technology); or, other intrusions into the victim's privacy such as loitering in a particular place or watching or spying on a person.

The effect of such behaviour is to curtail a victim's freedom, leaving them feeling that they constantly have to be careful. In many cases, the conduct might appear innocent (if it were to be taken in isolation), but when carried out repeatedly so as to amount to a course of conduct, it may then cause significant alarm, harassment or distress to the victim.

Paul Apreda, National Manager, FNF Both Parents Matter Cymru - July 2013

 

 

 

Lammy Report Doing Family: Encouraging Active Fatherhood

David Lammy MP - who chairs the All Party Parliamentary Group on fathers has launched his submission to the Labour Party policy review on the role of fathers in modern society to coincide with Fathers Day June 2013
Lammy’s report, Doing Family: Encouraging Active Fatherhood, reveals how quickly attitudes to fatherhood have changed and highlights the gap between the way that families want to live their lives and the way that they are allowed to by government policies.
 
In Wales FNF Both Parents Matter Cymru is seeking to influence the development of a new parenting strategy by the Welsh Government to ensure that support for fathers is explicitly covered. Unlike the UK Govt there is a legal duty on Welsh Ministers to use their 'best efforts' to support BOTH parents in their child raising duties under Article 18 of the UNCRC.
 
'The experience of people across Wales who come to us for support has shown that there is still a very strong presumption that mothers are the only parent they need to engage with irrespective of whether the father lives with the children all the time or is only seeing them occassionally.' said Paul Apreda, National Manager of the charity.  'We recently undertook some research with schools in Cardiff on their engagement with fathers. One school we followed up said - 'Well not many of our children have fathers' which is evidently not biologically correct but is symptomatic of the malaise permeating work with parents across many areas. We hope that the new Parenting Strategy will address this issue.'   
 
But the problem is not simply confined to statutory services. In submissions to the Assembly's Children's committee in 2011 Barnardos Cymru stated:
‘I think that it would be the case for all organisations – not just speaking on behalf of Barnardo’s, but having heard what Action for Children and other organisations say – that we are still focused on Mothers predominantly.’
 
The Assembly's Childrens Committee recommended in its report to Welsh Government that engagement with fathers should be part of the core business of parenting support. So far nothing has been done to take up that recommendation.
 
 
FNF Both Parents Matter Cymru is launching an initiative this month to capture a picture of the engagement of fathers in parenting support programmes across Wales to establish a 'baseline' of participation. We are seeking to support the Welsh Government in their duty under the Children's Rights Measure 2011 to use their 'best efforts' to support BOTH parents. We are also working to establish a Cross Party Assembly Group on fathers and fatherhood to mirror the UK Parliament group chaired by David Lammy MP.
 
Details of David Lammy's initiative can be read on his website here: http://www.davidlammy.co.uk/Doing_Family_Encouraging_Active_Fatherhood
 
 

New Children Act guidance from Welsh Government

The Welsh Government issued new guidance under The Children Act 1989 relating to both Private and Public Law and including the flowchart for Public Law outline on 27th June 2013. The document is meant for practitioners and other professionals in the Family Justice and related areas but may be useful to others in understanding some of the more complex areas - including procedural points.

The Guidance can be accessed here: http://wales.gov.uk/docs/dhss/legislation/130627childrenact89courtordersen.pdf

 

CHARTER FOR ACTION

CHARTER FOR ACTION
We've developed a simple 6 point action plan for Welsh Government which we'd like them to adopt for Fathers Day this year. Please let us know what you think - and whether you want any more information

• All WG funded programmes to record gender of parents / carers they work with
• Targets to increase participation of fathers and all other NRPs with WG services ...
• First Minister to make annual statement on the importance of fathers AND what the WG has done to help them in the past 12 months
• Encourage improved shared care of children to allow more parents (particularly single parents) to take up training or employment programmes
• Recognition of Parental Alienation as a form of emotional abuse of children
• Establish a work group under the Family Justice Network for Wales to co-ordinate improved collaboration for those organisations who have the DWP's Help & Support for Separated Families Mark in Wales

Any queries? Click here to contact us

 

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