In 2012 we highlighted something that was going on around estrangement and alienation, grandparents being accused of harassment for sending birthday cards and birthday presents to their grandchildren.
It was picked up by the media and many papers published the article, it had an extraordinary response.
It was an issue that was being conveyed to me, over and over again.
I listened to many grandparents who were in shock because Police were arriving at their door accusing them of harassment, these grandparents had never been visited by the Police before were also being issued with a PIN (Police Information Notice), although they were just a warning, and did not mean that the grandparents had a criminal record, it left them feeling totally devastated, many saying they felt intimidated by individual officers.
Some never got over it.
At the time, it appeared that there was no consistency on how the Police Authorities were dealing with this.
Some reportedly saying officers being quite heavy handed.
Grandparents were telling me that the Police arrived with blue lights.
So that was in 2012, unfortunately things have not changed and grandparents are still being accused of harassment.
I say nothing has changed, that is not strictly true, PIN’s should no longer be handed out according to the College of Policing:
Police Information Notices (PINs) will no longer be used in stalking or harassment cases. Officers may encounter scenarios in which a full and thorough investigation into an alleged offence identifies no course of conduct (eg where there is clear evidence presented that this is a single act and a course of conduct of two or more occasions is not made out). It may be appropriate in those rare circumstances to advise a person that their behaviour is unwanted and should cease with immediate effect.
This announcement was made:
In July 2017 a joint report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Her Majesty’s Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate (HMIC/HMPSI) recommended that “chief constables should stop the use of Police Information Notices and their equivalents immediately”.
Here are just a few case studies that I have been permission in sharing with you.
In legal documents it stated I had harassed my son and daughter-in-law by taking presents for my grandchild’s birthday a few days before their birthday in 2018. My son didn’t answer the door. I text him to say I had come with presents, he answered they had gone away. This is the only times he would communicate with me. It wasn’t possible to arrange to take presents. It was clear someone was at home with windows open and washing out. I asked a neighbour who was passing if they could give the bag of presents to them on their return as I had apparently made a mistake and come when they were away. She was happy to do that. I was accused of harassment for leaving the presents with a neighbour saying I had gone knocking on the neighbours door which I hadn’t.
A police van with 2 police officers called at my house to issue me with a PIN. I had asked my lawyer to offer mediation to my ex step child and this action with the police came about as a direct result of this. However, the reasons on the PIN (I was told there had to be 2) were an e mail I had sent some time before which they had responded to and a time 18 months before when I had seen (and spoken) to my grandchildren in town whilst going to the pantomime with school. I fought hard to have the PIN removed with a written apology from the police.
I was issued with a PIN for sitting in my car about 100 metres from my grandchild’s school. The police officers were really embarrassed. I phoned the issuing officer who said my adult child had come to the police station with a list of dates when I phoned or emailed. I have no idea whether those dates were genuine but I had not contacted her for about a year and prior to that only to arrange the limited contact we had. I was informed that a list of dates was sufficient to issue a PIN. No supporting evidence was required. An investigation would only be started on a complaint after the PIN was issued. Strangely enough my other adult child, who was with me in the car, was also issued with a PIN, despite having not had any contact with their sibling for years.
I was staggered when two Policeman arrived very early one morning, saying I had been accused of harassment by my son.He accused me of sending him messages on FaceBook. Since we were estranged I sent him one message and that was about three years before PIN. He said I harassed him on Instagram and I only installed Instagram a few months before PIN and didn’t send him any messages – not one. Said I had harassed him with letters. I sent him two in the same week asking for reconciliation and one note the following year inviting him to my birthday party, again about three years before PIN issued. Eventually I got a written apology from the Police and the PIN removed.The first encounter with Police my son was arrested for no reason and zero evidence I was with him at time and pleaded with the police to provide evidence I was threatened also with arrest, this led to the ex getting a order from the court meaning we did not see our gorgeous little girl for almost a year
The police harassed us for that year the cost to see her again was £15,000 in legal fees the cost to the family has scared us for life
The end verdict the judge slammed the ex for lying throughout and slammed the police for the initial arrest that started this nightmare
Reading about other grandparents who have been subject to this unbelievable situation brought those horrible moments flooding back, my son and his girlfriend split, that was the start of the worst year of our families lives.
The first encounter with Police was when my son was arrested for no reason and zero evidence, I was with him at the time and pleaded with the police to provide evidence, I was threatened also with arrest, this led to the ex getting an order from the court meaning we did not see our gorgeous grandchild for almost a year
The police harassed us for that year, the cost to regain contact was £15,000 in legal fees, but the cost to the family was and still is unmeasurable.
Eventually, the judge slammed the ex for lying throughout and slammed the police for the initial arrest that started this nightmare.
We are all professional people but having the Police coming to the door made people start to talk and rumours abound.
It appears that anyone can site harassment and family members can end up in a Police cell overnight.
I had one visit, because allegedly I was seen grinning as I past the ex’s house, I was told if I continued going down that main road I would be arrested, I was also told that I wasn’t to shop at a certain store as the ex’s mother shopped there, if I did I would be arrested, another incident with sending a mother’s day card, on behalf of my son, he was told he would be arrested for sending cards.
We have challenged the Police Commissioner, who of course denies this, however the officers who arrest say it is police policy.
It appears they can arrest without evidence in the case of harassment accusations.
As a family this tore us apart, my wife cried every single day, I was angry, my son who was always happy and easy going now is withdrawn, suffers from depression and mood swings, we live every week for our contact days, taking our grandchild on holiday to Egypt this month for ten days will be wonderful.
The money it has cost us was worth every penny but has left all of us struggling for money and taking out loans it’s £15,000 that could be better spent of our grandchild’s up bringing.
6 years ago, my wife and I were caught up in a very bitter family dispute and as a consequence 3 of our grandchildren were denied contact with us. The dispute also involved my elderly mother who also became alienated from me, and it was also used as a reason to prevent our grandchildren from having contact with us.
3 years ago, it was suggested that I should send her a birthday card This I did, but got a very unpleasant reply back. (allegedly typed by her) Other serious matters came to light the following year and I raised safeguarding concerns with Social Services.
24 hours later a Harassment Complaint was made about me, by a family member, to the Police. Initially the Police considered arresting me, however a decision was made to send a uniformed constable to my home to give me a verbal warning about sending “malicious letters to my elderly mother”. His demeanour was not good, and my denials of any wrongdoing were totally ignored.
I sought legal advice, and obtained my police files through the Freedom of Information Act, and then requested a meeting with a higher ranked Police officer. The Inspector who met me was thankfully more emphatic. He did state however that any complaint was “victim led” and they are not “duty bound to have to investigate the actual complaint” The Police job as far he was concerned was merely to issue the “warning about Harrassment” an that they were following Home Office Guidlenes
Thankfully though he did eventually concede that the complaint made was vexatious and the victim was not actually a victim. My Police files were amended to show that I had not written any malicious letters nor made any malicious phone calls as alleged and that I had good reason to raise safeguarding issues with Social Services.
In my opinion the person(s) making the false allegations should have been cautioned/charged about wasting valuable Police time. At the very least the Police should ensure that any complaint made should be ‘checked out’ first before issuing a warning. (on my paperwork I was listed as THE OFFENDER)
I was informed that a Family Court could request access to these files which would have had a direct bearing on a decision about me being a suitable grandparent for allowing me contact with my grandchildren. Clearly not a satisfactory state of affairs and one that caused my wife much stress and anxiety.
In is now abundantly clear to me that as in most of things in this life, common sense does not prevail any longer.
The Harassment Act was never brought in for the reasons given above. If someone is genuinely harassing another person it must be dealt with in the appropriate way, but for a grandparent to be sending birthday cards or presents is absolutely ridiculous. Not only is it a complete waste of Police time it has life long damaging consequences for innocent people.
In a court of law we hear the word, vexatious used, when a grandparent is asking for ‘leave’ in obtaining a Child Arrangement Order, the definition being – denoting an action or the bringer of an action that is brought without sufficient grounds for winning, purely to cause annoyance to the defendant- I would suggest that accusations of grandparents harassing is also vexatious?
When we campaign constantly for the rights of grandchildren, it is their right to receive cards and presents from family members, this sort of behaviour is and always be Emotional Abuse towards children.
It is not putting children first.
As with denying them a loving and caring relationship with all extended family, unless there is a proven reason to do so, will and does cause life long damage.
As children grow up they realise that the very adults who should be putting them first have in fact lied to them, they then turn against those parents.
The trust is broken beyond repair.
There is a desperate need for a change in the Harassment Act to prevent this continuing.