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Criminal Harassment

Criminal harassment - sometimes called "stalking" - is any form of harassment which causes the person being harassed to have a reasonable fear for their safety.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, the following behaviours are defined as harassment:

Repeatedly following from place to place another person or anyone known to that other person;
Repeatedly communicating, directly or indirectly, with another person or anyone known to them;
Besetting or watching the dwelling-house, or place where another person, or anyone known to that person, resides, works, carries on business, or happens to be; or
Engaging in threatening conduct directed at another person or any member of their family.
Where someone knowingly or recklessly harasses another person and causes that person reasonably to fear for their safety or the safety or anyone known to them, the conduct constitutes a criminal offence, and is punishable by a range of sanctions up to and including imprisonment.

What are examples of criminal harassment?

Criminal harassment is usually committed by someone whom you know; often it is someone whom you have been close to. It frequently occurs during a breakup or divorce. It often goes unreported because the person at whom it is directed hopes that it will die down or that s/he can deal with it alone.

Sometimes romantic behaviour which at first seems acceptable changes, or starts to feel inappropriate, strange, or unacceptable. If someone repeatedly contacts you, follows you, lies in wait for you, will not take "no" for an answer, and behaves in ways that you find unsettling, you should seek assistance. The unwanted behaviour may escalate; it may become threatening or frightening.

The following are examples of harassment that can escalate into criminal behaviour. You should seek assistance in a situation of this kind:

Unwanted gifts

You receive a weekly present - flowers and other gifts - from a colleague in another department. This colleague has asked you out on dates. You have indicated that you are not interested and do not want any more gifts; however, your colleague continues to send presents. You are feeling uncomfortable and are concerned about the gift bearer’s intentions.

Repeated contact (phone calls, messages, emails, letters)

You are being inundated with e-mails from an ex-partner that have left you feeling unsettled and confused. The messages are sometimes friendly, and ask if you can work things out; at other times they are hostile and insulting. Some of your friends and family have also started getting voice mail from the same individual attempting to contact you through them.

These are examples of behaviour you should report immediately:


You and two of your classmates are receiving threatening e-mails from a former lover of one of you. You no longer feel safe either on campus or at home. You are also concerned that the individual knows where your classes are, and will approach you.

Following, Watching

You are being harassed by a former student. The student is approaching other members of your department, asking questions about you and tryinging to gain personal information about you, has joined your fitness club, and has been seen near your home.

Contacting your family, friends, professors, colleagues, students

Your ex-partner is outraged by the fact that you are not returning any phone calls. Now your ex is repeatedly calling your family, telling them very personal things about your relationship, and implying that if they don't help the two of you to reunite they will be "at risk".

Where to go for help

If you believe that you are in immediate danger, or in case of an emergency, contact

University of Toronto Police St George
416-978-2222 emergencies
416-978-2323 other calls

905-569-4333 emergencies
905-828-5200 other calls

416-287-7333 emergencies
416-287-7398 other calls

City Police 911

Community Safety Office: 416-978-1485

For confidential advice and assistance about threatening or intimidating emails, contact the Community Safety Co-coordinator. Contact with the Community Safety Office does not commit you to taking any formal action.

For more information click METRAC site.