Harassment from unknown suspect

17 May 2021

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question: 

I have an investigation where someone has had her window on her vehicle smashed by an unknown suspect. A week later another window has been smashed again by an unknown person.

Aside from the criminal damage I've been asked to record harassment, how would this be harassment if we have no idea who the suspect is?

Answer:

For recording purposes, the perception of the victim is the defining factor in determining how the incident is to be recorded. The victim does not have to justify or provide evidence of their belief, and police officers or staff should not directly challenge such perceptions.

Therefore, being victim led, if the victim in the circumstances you provide has informed the police that she believes that the same offender is responsible for this course of conduct i.e. the criminal damage, then a harassment offence would be recorded, but if she states that she does not know, then it would not.

When investigations progress the form of the crime initially recorded may change. For example, if in relation to your incident, the harassment may not be progressed, then the criminal damage offences would still be advanced. If that was the case, then upon 'closing' the incident on the system, the crime record would be amended at the point of closing to reflect the difference in outcome.

The Crime Recording General Rules provide further information in regards to properly recording crime.

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