Who is it issued by and how can I contact them?
Harassment Warnings are issued by the Police – contact the administering force.
Does it involve guilt?
No. Acknowledging receipt of the notice does not mean that you are admitting any wrongdoing. You are simply accepting information about the Protection from Harassment Act and the police position on investigating allegations of harassment.
Is it recorded on the Police National Computer (PNC)?
Yes. A facility is available on the PNC which allows an entry to be recorded which does not constitute a ‘criminal record’ but is accessible for police use.
Is it classed as a conviction?
No, but it is kept on the PNC and can be taken into consideration by the Police if there are any further allegations of harassment.
How long will it be on my record?
Information is retained on the PNC and can be used in future criminal proceedings as evidence of character.
When does it become spent?
It isn’t a caution or conviction, so isn’t formally covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.
When do I have to declare it?
You very rarely get asked about Harassment Warnings, so you don’t have to declare it.
However, it is not covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act and so, when asked, it must be disclosed. It is rare for employers to ask about Harassment Warnings.
Is it disclosed on DBS Checks?
Not on a standard check.
It might be disclosed as part of an enhanced check in the ‘other relevant information’ section, i.e. if the offence has a bearing on the kind of work you are applying for. However, in our experience it is rare for Harassment Warnings to be disclosed in the ‘other relevant information’ section.
Do I have the right to appeal and what is the process?
There is no formal process for appealing a Harassment Warning. If you wish to complain about the decision or how the case was handled, you need to make a complaint to the Chief Constable or Commissioner of the administering force.
Each police force should be willing to receive requests for Harassment Warnings to be ‘expunged’ as part of their ownership as Data Controllers of the PNC. However, this is only done in exceptional circumstances, particularly where a significant amount of time has passed since receiving the warning. If you did decide to try and have the warning expunged, then there is a risk that your earlier admission of guilt could be used as evidence if you decided to proceed with charge in lieu.
The Protection from Harassment Act makes it a criminal offence to pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another person, where that person knows (or ought to know) that the act amounts to harassment (which can include alarming a person or causing them distress).
There needs to be at least 2 separate occasions of conduct which, together, can be said to amount to harassment. This is where the apparent need for a Harassment Warning comes in – a single act on its own cannot amount to a ‘course of conduct’ but it can be enough for a Warning to be given.
A Warning can be given by police following an allegation which, if true and repeated, would amount to an offence under the Protection from Harassment Act. Until or unless further similar allegations are made, there is not enough evidence to charge a person with harassment, hence the Warning. The Warning lets the individual know that a complaint has been received and that a charge may follow if the conduct complained of is repeated.
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