Help my family get protection from an unwell, potentially violent woman.
February 28, 2012 1:55 PM   Subscribe

How can I arrange action to be taken against a mentally ill woman who is harassing my family?

Technically this is a UK specific question, however any advice would be appreciated.

My family, and my mother in particular have for the last eighteen to twenty-four months been subjected to low-level verbal abuse and stalking behaviour from a woman, let's call her "Jenny", who lives in their neighbourhood. This has recently begun to escalate in terms of frequency and severity.

My family have reported this to the police on numerous ocassions and there has been a distinct lack of any kind of response. My family have tried to avoid seeing her, but it has got to the point where my mother has to try to take varying routes to work, which for my mother, a woman with impaired mobility, this is a huge challenge.

Initally my family were able to deal with verbal abuse by avoiding her, and by withdrawing from the situation, walking away, going into shops, asking security guards for assistance, but this is becoming ineffectual as the woman persists.

What I have only just discovered, and what has made me very unhappy, is that on one occassion towards the end of last year, my sister was physically attacked by this woman. My sister then went to the police station to make a complaint, at which point it became apparent "Jenny" was known to the police. While my sister was attempting to make a complaint, Jenny made several counter-allegations against my sister.

In addition to this there have been threats of violence against my family and a threat to "burn down" the family home. 3am Saturday morning, my sister was being driven home by her boyfriend, who was attempting to park on the drive. Jenny stood in the way of the car and would not move. My sister and her boyfriend called the police, but we are still waiting for any kind of response.

What has prompted me to ask this question is that this evening, my mother was verbally abused outside her home, physically barged off of the pavement, followed to a shop, verbally abused in the shop to the point where she had to seek help from security guards and to ask them to call the police who did not respond.

When my family have been able to get a response from the police, it has become apparent that "Jenny" is known to them, and they are familiar with her anti-social behaviour. Jenny's husband is known to my family but seems to be unable, or unwilling to help with controlling her anti-social behaviour. I am sympathetic to a point for this obviously unwell woman, however as far as I am concerned, physical contact, verbal abuse and threats against my family are serious problems which need to be dealt with.

I live several hundred miles away from my family so the only support I can provide is by advising them of what their options are and helping to pursue them.

How can my family protect themselves from this woman? How can they get some kind of resolution? Are there any kind of restraining orders or court enforced orders which might be an option? This woman clearly needs some kind of help herself, how can this be arranged? What can I do?

Thanks in advance for any information.
posted by v.barboni to Law & Government (6 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
The Citizen's Advice Bureau may help escalate the issue with the Police. Your family may want to contact their local one.

There is some general advice here:

Anti-social behaviour in housing

You may also consider having your a member of your family go to the local police station and ask to talk to the duty office about why your complaints are not being dealt with. If that doesn't work, escalate to the IPCC.
posted by IanMorr at 2:10 PM on February 28, 2012

Contact your local MP or council. The police are making a decision to not follow up on your family's complaints. They're not going to change their minds on their own.

Document everything, copies of email, police reports etc then go over the locals heads.
posted by fshgrl at 2:20 PM on February 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Strange, this is the sort of thing that the dreaded ASBO was made to address. The police round my way in London actively canvas for this sort of low level crime. Keep pushing and see if your MP has an active surgery. Good luck!
posted by fingerbang at 2:29 PM on February 28, 2012

Further to the documentation, try and get as much footage of Jenny's hostile behavior as possible. Like your description of her 3am car stopping episode, that would have been a very good thing to have recorded. Be as obvious as possible about it as well. Maybe Jenny won't like being on tape every time your family's around her in a public place and may decide to harass other pastures.
posted by barc0001 at 2:37 PM on February 28, 2012

Contact your MP and ask for some help, and if the response is unsatisfactory, talk to your MP's office and/or police liaison officer about the lack of response, and gently mention the possibility of approaching the paper with a story of police and civil blind-eye turning. Don't be rude or histrionic about it, just use it as leverage to highlight the issue.
posted by smoke at 3:01 PM on February 28, 2012

I think you and your family would really get a lot out of the book The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker. link to Amazon.

He appears to be the go-to guy for all things stalker. I had to deal with a really unwell father at LittleTaff's school last week.... one of other the mums is a trauma psychologist and when I spoke about it to her, she agreed that it's a very good book.

It's the metafilter favourite how-to guide for stalkers.

I've just ordered two copies for about six australian dollars each from The Book Depository ( I'm giving one to the mum with the unwell ex after we both got very shaken up by his stalking at school.

Good luck, it's scary stuff. But he's a pretty practical guy. Google his advice in the mean time... yeah, Oprah loved him... but not everything she liked was shite.

Best of luck to your family. And hugs all round.
posted by taff at 12:15 AM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

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