The stalking phenomenon: trends in European and international stalking and harassment legislation

Ursula Smartt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The popstar Madonna experienced it and so did the tennis player Martina Hingis. The most recent serious case of stalking in Britain led to the brutally calculated murder of a popular TV presenter, 38 year-old Jill Dando in April 1999. The film director Steven Spielberg eventually took his obsessive stalker to the criminal courts. The Beatle John Lennon was an early victim of what would be described as criminal stalking action today, haunted and brutally killed by the ‘fan’ Mark Chapman. Ex-Beatle George Harrison has also recently been a stalking victim; the intruder, who described himself in court as a ‘Beatles-Fan’, was stopped by Harrison’s wife in early 2000 in their home. She hit the stalker over the head with a table-lamp in self-defence. Over the past decade, ‘stalking’ has emerged as a new socio-legal problem. One definition of the stalking phenomenon is repeated harassing behaviour which is threatening and purposefully directed at a specific person (the victim), and would cause a reasonable person to fear bodily injury or death for themselves or members of the family. Criminal offences related to stalking range from assault (be it physical or mental) to non-fatal offences against the person to grievous bodily harm with intent, rape, indecent assault or even murder in the various legislations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-232
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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