5.1 What to do if you are a victim

5.1.1 Police

If you have been assaulted you may press criminal charges. You should telephone the Police and an Officer should attend to take details. If the person responsible is arrested and charged they will have to go to Court. Pending the final hearing you may be afforded some protection by the criminal Court imposing what are known as “Bail Conditions”. This means that in return for that person being at liberty (pending their trial) conditions may be imposed – and these may include them being ordered to stay away from you.

The Police also have extended powers to help under the Protection from Harassment Legislation. This gives them power e.g. to help when stalkers become a problem.

5.1.2. British Telecom

If the form of harassment is by telephone, BT can offer a tracer service in certain cases. Alternatively, they can help by offering a change of number.

5.1.3 Housing Refuges and Woman’s Aid

If you are fleeing violence and chose to leave your residence to escape someone who is subjecting you to violence, then help and support are available from the Woman’s Aid. You should be offered some temporary accommodation at a refuge or other emergency accommodation particularly if you have fled with children.

If you do leave your previous accommodation with your children to escape from violence then you should be granted housing priority as a homeless person.

If you have fled to avoid the further risk of violence or harassment you should also consider obtaining protection from the Court. Solicitors authorised by the Legal Services Commission can grant you the funding (subject to your eligibility) to make an application to the Court for emergency protection – the emergency Order may assist in making you feel safe.

5.1.4 Solicitors

You can get help from a Solicitor concerning a problem of violence by or harassment from another person. Initially for example the Solicitor might write a warning letter requiring the aggressor to stop the behaviour and making it clear that an application will be made to the Court for an Order if the behaviour is repeated.

If this does not cure the problem, the Solicitor will be able to make an application for a Court Order.

You may be eligible for assistance with payment of the Solicitor’s costs from the Legal Services Commission. The availability of that help will depend on your financial situation. The Legal Help Scheme would cover advice and assistance in the office. If an application needed to be made to the Court, the Legal Services Commission would have to consider granting you a Certificate which would provide cover for the legal costs of getting a Court Order. This would be considered both on the basis of your financial eligibility and whether there was a good legal case to bring. The Legal Services Commission will look at a number of factors, including whether the police have been involved, whether bail conditions are in place and whether a letter of warning has been sent, before considering whether the Court application is necessary and appropriate