The Equality Act 2010, states that: 
A person harasses another if they engage in unwanted behaviour related to a protected characteristic, and the behaviour has the purpose or effect of
  • violating another person's dignity, or
  • creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the other.
Other forms of harassment outlined in the Equality Act 2010 include:
Engaging in unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature with the purpose or effect is as outlined above. This is called sexual harassment.

Engaging in unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature or that is related to gender reassignment or sex, with the purpose or effect as above, and because of a person's rejection of or submission to the behaviour, they are treated less favourably.
Harassing behaviour can happen once or over a period of time. 

Any behaviour that harasses another is never OK and harassment relating to a protected characteristic is unlawful.

So, what are the related protected characteristics?

The following are identified as protected characteristics. This means that harassment, discrimination and victimisation based on any of the following is unlawful:
Gender reassignment
Marriage and civil partnership
Pregnancy or maternity
Religion or belief (including a lack of)
Sexual orientation 

What is meant by purpose or effect?

Purpose: Sometimes a person's purpose or intention, the reason why they have done something, may be clear in the words they used or stated aim at the time. However, this is often not the case, and therefore the 'effect' of any behaviour must also considered.

Effect: Behaviour does not need to be intentional to be considered as harassment. A person may be harassed even if they were not the intended 'target'. In determining whether someone's behaviour has the stated effect, the following must be taken into account:
  • the perception of the person who has experienced or witnessed the conduct,
  • the other circumstances of the case,
  • whether it is reasonable for the conduct to have that effect.

When is harassment a criminal offence?

There are different forms of harassment and these are defined by the Protection from Harassment Act 1997. 

Harassment is:
  • behaviour that has happened more than once, 
  • which causes harassment (alarm or distress) to another, and
  • which the person carrying out the behaviour knows, or ought to know, amounts to harassment.
Harassment can also involve:
  • a fear of violence, 
  • the harassment of two or more persons and 
  • behaviour that amounts to stalking. See What is stalking? for further information. 

It can also be racially or religiously aggravated, and if the harassment is motivated by hostility or prejudice, could be a hate crime or incident.  See What is a hate crime or incident? for further information.

If you have experienced harassment and feel scared, distress or threatened, report this to the police as soon as possible.

Harassment can happen in a number of different ways, it may:
  • involve physical actions
  • occur verbally or non-verbally
  • happen in person or online
  • via email, social media, phone or other forms of messaging
Harassment may include, for example:
  • offensive or intimidating comments or gestures, or insensitive jokes or pranks
  • mocking, mimicking or belittling a person’s disability
  • making racist, sexist, homophobic or ageist jokes, or derogatory or stereotypical remarks about a particular ethnic or religious group or gender
  • outing or threatening to out someone as gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans
  • ignoring or shunning someone by,  for example, deliberately excluding them from a conversation or a social activity
  • isolating someone for speaking out about unwanted behaviour
Harassment also violates the Academy Student Charter and CUKSN Respect Policy.

Internal support

Please note this route should not be used in an emergency. If you think that a crime has been committed or is taking place, please report this to the police as soon as possible so that you can get the support that you need.

If you would like specialist support in relation to bullying, harassment or stalking or information about accessing the right services please request here with your details. In doing so, an advisor will contact you within 3 days to arrange an appointment to discuss how best to support you.

The counselling team are also available and can be contacted on 020 7873 7303 (9am to 5pm) or by email

External support

Metropolitan Police guidance for victims of stalking and harassment
Victim Support - 24/7 victim support including stalking and harassment advice
Help Musicians - Bullying and Harassment support 24/7 helpline 0800 088 2045

There are two ways you can tell us what happened