Devon Police Warn of Cyber-Stalking

Devon police are warning people to be more cautious about the information they add to social networking sites...or run the risk of being cyber-stalked.

It's Domestic Abuse Awareness Week when we're looking at the tell-tale signs of abuse.

Stalking is a key factor in many domestic abuse cases, most often committed by a former partner after a relationship has ended. 
One in five women and one in 10 men report being stalked at some point in their lives (British Crime Survey 2009/10).  Cyber-stalking has increased with the growth of internet use and the popularity of social networking sites. 

Elizabeth, a victim from Devon, experienced cyber-stalking from a previously abusive partner who found information and her whereabouts many years later and stalked her on line. 
 “It was very easy for my stalker to track my movements and harass me through Facebook and similar social media sites."
To  hear more of Elizabeth's experiences CLICK HERE 

Steven Slater, Computer Forensic Manager for Devon and Cornwall Police,  says we all must be more careful  about the information we add on line.  CLICK HERE  Do we really want everyone to see what we were getting up to in the past?

Alexis Bowater, Chief Executive of Stalking UK, said: “Social networking sites are a great way to keep in touch with friends and family but the information added, however inconsequential, can be used by an ex-partner for cyber-stalking.

“Cyber-stalking and stalking are misunderstood crimes and we know people still don’t recognise stalking behaviour when it’s happening to them. Even though they may feel uncomfortable with someone’s obsessive behaviour all too often people put up with it.”  

Police advise the following useful tips to help stay safe on line:
1. Before signing up to a website or a social network read the privacy policy plus terms and conditions so that you are aware of how they will use your information. 
2. Review your privacy settings on social network(s) and make sure they are set to the level most appropriate to protect your privacy.
3. Be very careful about the information you post on line and never reveal personal information, e.g. home address, date of birth and phone number.
4. Choose a strong password for your account to prevent someone else from accessing it. Do not share passwords. 
5. Log out of your account when you have finished using the site.  Do not allow people to access your profile. 
6. Don't post what you don't want others to know.
7. Never click on links or install applications that are sent to you via unexpected messages. 
8. Get your friends and family to have a look at your profiles to check that you aren’t giving out too much personal information or posting inappropriate photos/films - they might see something you’ve missed.
9. Respect yourself and others on line.
10. If you are unlucky enough to have a bad online experience, report it to the service provider or to the police.
For help and support call the National Stalking Helpline on 0808 802 0300 or visit Devon and Cornwall Police on