Street harassment is vastly under-reported, despite the increasing rates of incidents. The 2021 YouGov survey shows that over 95% of all women did not report their experiences of sexual harassment. By reporting an incident, even anonymously, you will help to raise awareness of harassment and help improve the response of the police and other agencies to tackle and prevent it.
Reporting to the police
Call 999 in an emergency or if:
- the offender is still present
- you feel like the situation could get heated or violent very soon
- you or anyone else is seriously hurt or in danger
- you think the offender may return
In a non-emergency, dial 101 or report it online on your local police force's website.
Some victims of harassment may worry about the police contacting them at home, especially if they have been repeatedly targeted at or near their home. If this is the case, the police can be asked to contact them through someone they trust and who has agreed to provide their details, such as a friend, a relative or their local Neighbourhood Watch Coordinator.
If the harassment appears to be motivated by hostility because of a person’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or gender reassignment it can be reported as a hate crime to the police through True Vision. The police will record any crime as a hate crime where the victim or any other person perceives it was motivated by hostility based on these protected characteristics.
Stop Hate Line is an independent and confidential service funded in certain areas of the country for people who want to report a hate crime or get support. If an incident happens in an area where we are funded, you can use the service. In addition to this, if you live in any of these areas, you can report any incident which happens in the UK.
There are many reasons why people do not want to report harassment. We encourage you to always report it. If you prefer, report it anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Reporting unsafe streets
If you feel unsafe in some areas of your local community, you can report this through StreetSafe. It is designed for the public to anonymously tell the police about public places where they've felt unsafe.
Dealing with non-criminal harassment
If the harassment is not a hate crime or does not amount to another criminal offence, it may be appropriate to take the case to the civil court if:
- the perpetrator has harassed you more than once - this includes stalking
- the harassment made you feel distressed or alarmed
The court can order the person harassing you to stay away from you - this is called getting an ‘injunction’. The court can also award you compensation.
Support for victims
Support for victims of harassment is available from Victim Support whether the harassment has been reported to the police or not. Victim Support is a charity that is independent of the police and offers specialist support any time of the day or night. They help victims to:
- deal with the immediate emotional impact of crime
- report the incident to the police
- find a counsellor to help cope with what's happened
- understand the criminal justice system
- make a compensation claim
- talk to other agencies, such as employers or housing officers
- find someone to repair locks or remove graffiti
Victim Support can be contacted free 24 hours a day on 0333 271 0094 or online or by text relay.
There are many other support agencies out there, tailored to specific groups of people or needs. If you have been a victim of street harassment have a look at Our Streets Now’s support page for a comprehensive list of other support agencies.