Trespass legislation means that a property owner, or someone acting for him or her, can stop someone from coming onto that property. People can then be charged with trespassing when they enter a building or go onto a property where they have been told not to go.
Sometimes trespass legislation can help, especially if you work or study in a large institution such as a university. You can ask that trespass legislation be used to stop the harasser from being in your work, or study environment. Or someone’s access can be limited. The person may be allowed only at certain hours or on certain days. Sometimes a person will only be allowed onto a property if the Department of Security has been contacted, and an appointment set. Trespass legislation can be used to ban someone for a short or long period of time depending on the need.
To use trespass legislation, the property owner, the University through one of its administrators, is the one who has to give the trespass notice to the harasser. The University needs to make it clear that the harasser is not welcome on the property. This can be done verbally or in writing.
If the harasser returns, the police can be called. The police may then give the harasser a warning or a ticket. Some tickets can be settled out of court and some mean going to court to settle. If the harasser goes to court on a trespass charge, this may result in a fine or probation.
Trespass legislation can be useful when the harasser is a student, a service user, a client or a contractor. It can also work well when the harasser is someone in another part of the institution. It does not work well when you are being harassed by a co-worker, or a peer who attends the same classes, unless the person is fired or suspended. The University is not likely to ban a person from their own workplace or classroom because this would mean that the person cannot fulfill academic or employment obligations.
If the incident is serious enough however, trespass legislation may still be useful. The threat of losing employment, or the privilege or education may stop the harassment. If it does not, and the incident is very serious, then the harasser has made a choice to have that privilege withdrawn and the University may act on it.