Northants Police Deal With Cyber Stalking

Northamptonshire Police have launched an innovative approach to tackling cyber stalking and online abuse which will mean better protection for domestic abuse victims.

The purpose of the new approach is the prevention of online offences and to bring offenders to justice in a unique collaboration believed to be the first of its kind in the UK. Specialist detectives within the force’s Cyber Crime Unit will work with partner agencies and domestic abuse support services to help safeguard vulnerable victims.

The aim is to create an integrated response to the identification and risk management of domestic abuse victims who are at risk of cyber stalking and online abuse.

Detective Superintendent Steve Lingley, Head of Crime for Northamptonshire Police, said:

“Today marks the launch of what is an innovative project to help the force improve its most important objective of protecting vulnerable people and improving the trust and confidence of the community.

“This initiative is a joint partnership between our Cyber Crime Unit and Independent Domestic Violence Advisors working in the Sunflower Centre, and will help to identify victims who are at risk of cyber stalking and help to keep them safe.

“According to research conducted by the University of Bedford, people are more likely to become victims of cyber stalking than face to face harassment. Most people have access to the internet and so the risk of becoming a victim of online crime has never been greater. The British Crime Survey estimates that there are over five million victims of cyber stalking in the UK every year, with that figure set to increase in the future.

“Northamptonshire Police is committed to safeguarding the community, whether that is on the street, or online. In late 2014 we created our own Cyber Crime Unit to help improve our digital capability and to pursue online offenders.

"Through the delivery of this new cyber stalking project, we will help to protect those who are most at risk of harm by preventing them from becoming victims of this crime in the first place, and to bring offenders to justice.

“We have a clear message to anyone committing offences online. There is no safe place for you to hide, and you will be made to account for your actions. Northamptonshire Police, along with its partners, will do everything they can to protect and support the vulnerable and prosecute online cyber stalkers.”

Detective Constable Steve Watkins is a digital media investigator in the force’s Cyber Crime unit, and has been instrumental in introducing this new approach.   

He said:

“This new approach will mean fewer victims subjected to this type of crime and allow partners in other agencies to receive training around cyber stalking and online offending, allowing them to better identify potential victims and provide specialist advice and support.

“My belief is that the tackling of issues within a 21st century police service requires a multi-departmental and multi-agency approach. The Independent Domestic Violence Advisors would take the lead for victim management, but with the addition of a Digital Media Investigator from the Cyber Crime Unit who would be allocated to produce a bespoke cyber risk-management plan with the victim.”

Linda Lee, chair of Voice, Northamptonshire’s victim and witness service, said:

“Recent years have seen technology expand and develop at an unprecedented rate of change. Although that advance in technology has given us many benefits we have also seen the use of technology to commit crime.

“Technology has been so fast moving that it has often outpaced methods of detection.  This development is good news for the people of Northamptonshire who can be assured that the collaboration of the Cyber Crime Unit and domestic abuse support services will protect those most in need.”

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