A non-molestation order in the UK offers legal protection from harassment, violence, or intimidation, often sought by victims of domestic abuse or stalking. To get this order, you need to show the court strong evidence that you've experienced or are likely to face such behavior.
Molestation includes physical, sexual, or psychological harassment that significantly affects your well-being.
There are no court fees for applying for this order. It tells the other person what they're not allowed to do, like being violent or threatening towards you or your children, contacting you or your children, or harassing you by visiting certain places.
If they break the order, it's a criminal offense, and they can be arrested. This article discusses the evidence needed for a non-molestation order in the UK.
What evidence do you need for a non-molestation order in the UK?
Getting a non-molestation order from the court isn’t based on just one piece of evidence.
For a strong case, you need to show a clear and immediate risk of harm. Here are some examples of evidence you may wish to use if you apply for a non-molestation order.
Supporting witness statements
When applying for a non-molestation order, you need to provide a detailed witness statement describing the mistreatment you've endured. In this, you should include specific events, police involvement, and any necessary medical treatment, along with dates times, and details of any witnesses present.
You can either use the provided template or write your own statement. If you opt for your own, make sure to include the proscribed "statement of truth" at the end, confirming the accuracy of your statement, and sign and date the statement to validate it.
It’s important to make sure the information you provide is accurate and can be backed up with evidence. Lying to get a non-molestation order could result in penalties.
Statements from witnesses who've seen the perpetrator's actions are also compelling. They should describe the other person’s behavior, violence, threats, or intimidation, and mention any efforts you’ve made to avoid them or seek help. The more detailed these accounts are the better.
Police reports are detailed documents created by law enforcement officers after an incident. They are valuable in legal proceedings, like supporting a non-molestation order, as they include facts, witness statements, and officer observations. Additionally, they can validate claims made in your witness statement by providing details like dates, times, and locations.
Medical records are valuable legal documents that can support your non-molestation order application. They contain details of any medical treatment you've received related to the incident, which can strengthen your case.
To access your medical records, reach out to your GP practice, optician, dentist, or hospital. For hospital records, contact the records manager or patient services manager at the hospital trust.
You might also access your GP health record online via the NHS App, but it may not include all relevant information.
CCTV footage can be valuable evidence for a non-molestation order application if it captures acts of violence, threats, intimidation, or stalking behaviour.
Under the Data Protection Act, you're entitled to request access to CCTV footage if you're identifiable in it. You can usually find the email address on the organization's website or check the ICO Data Protection Register. While some organizations may demand specific information, you have the right to request the footage.
Text messages and emails
A lot of real life is played out online these days. As such, evidence such as text messages and emails can be used as evidence to support a non-molestation order.
Text messages, emails, and other electronically stored information (ESI) must be legally obtained and properly preserved as evidence to be accepted in court. This includes showing more than just the sender or receiver's name and including relevant details like phone numbers. If someone doesn't willingly provide their phone, a court order can be obtained to access the messages.
Social media posts
As social media becomes more prevalent, many are surprised to learn that their online posts can be used as evidence in legal cases. Even with strict privacy settings, posts can be shared publicly by friends and used in court proceedings. Therefore, social media activity, including posts, photos, and comments, can be considered as evidence when seeking a non-molestation order in the form of screenshots.
Can you get a non-molestation order without evidence?
Without sufficient evidence, it's unlikely that you'll be granted a non-molestation order. The court needs to be convinced of a genuine threat before issuing the order.
When applying, you'll need to specify the behaviors you want the order to stop and provide supporting statements from yourself and witnesses. Without these, the order may not be granted.
How long does a non-molestation order last?
Non-molestation orders typically last between 6 and 12 months, but this can vary based on your situation and the court's decision.
If you need to change or extend the order, you can apply for a variation or extension. You'll need to explain your reasons on the form, but you won't need additional witness statements or evidence.
What is the process for getting a non-molestation order?
During the court process, your application for a non-molestation order will be reviewed by a judge in a private family court hearing. Both you and the person you're seeking the order against have the right to attend. While it's not required to have a family solicitor or legal representative, it can be beneficial.
At the hearing, the judge will consider all the evidence provided, including witness statements, police reports, medical records, and any other relevant information. Based on this evidence, the judge will decide whether to grant the non-molestation order. If granted, the order will specify prohibited behaviors, any geographical restrictions, and the consequences for breaching the order.
How does the court decide whether or not to issue a non-molestation order?
Non-molestation applications are treated seriously in family court, with the safety of the applicant and any children being the top concern. Judges assess whether there's genuine fear of harm, evidence of real risk, and if the order is the best protection. They also consider past violence or coercive control in the relationship and how the order might impact both parties.
For this reason, presenting strong, compelling evidence in support of a non-molestation order in the UK is crucial.