One cyber stalking case a month reported to police in Northamptonshire

DI Louise Fleckney of Northamptonshire Police's cyber crime unit
DI Louise Fleckney of Northamptonshire Police's cyber crime unit

Thirteen cyber stalking offences were reported to Northamptonshire Police in the past year.

Between April 2015 and March 2016, of the 31 stalking offences reported to police, 13 of these were cyber stalking offences. In 10 of these offences the victims were female. Three offences related to male victims.

Det Supt Steve Lingley, head of crime and safeguarding, said: “The risk of becoming a victim of online crime is now greater than ever and online stalking is one of those risks. We are committed to safeguarding victims whether that is on the streets or online.”

Last year, Northamptonshire Police launched a pioneering approach to tackle cyber stalking and online abuse.

Believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, specialist detectives within the force’s Cyber Crime Unit began working with support services to flag up domestic abuse victims at risk of cyber stalking and online abuse.

Since the launch of the project, Northamptonshire Police says, a number of high risk victims of domestic abuse have been protected.

Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA) working in the Sunflower Centre, who have had training from the cyber crime specialists, said they have found the collaboration beneficial.

One advisor commented: “The victims I have used this on have all commented on how this has made them feel more confident, so thank you for creating a process that helps me make those victims feel safer.”

DC Steve Watkins, digital media investigator, who spearheaded the new approach, said: “Within 21st Century policing we need new methods of protection and detection. Approaches like these go a long way in safeguarding vulnerable victims and identifying and prosecuting offenders.”

Cyber stalking or adult digital abuse can take the form of identity theft, tracking software, vandalism, harassment, solicitation for sex, threats, defamation/slander and using the internet to commit fraud.

For help and advice call the National Stalking Awareness Line on 0808 802 0300