Calls For New Laws On Cyber Stalking

30 March 2011, 15:33 | Updated: 30 March 2011, 15:49

Heart's being told it could be tough to bring in a new law to stop cyber stalking

It's as more than 80 MPs are calling for an overhaul of stalking laws which could see cyber-stalking become a crime.

The MPs, from all parties, also want police to prioritise complaints of stalking and say the crime needs to be defined in law.

Cyberstalking includes things like being bombarded with online messages or people becoming demanding or controlling and asking you why you haven't been on the internet.

Statistics released by probation union Napo today, ahead of a seminar at the Houses of Parliament, show that just 2.2% of all incidences of harassment recorded by police ended in a jail sentence.

Napo said that in 2009 there were 53,000 offences of harassment recorded by police, leading to 6,581 convictions. Out of those convicted, 18.5% were jailed, the union said.

The latest figures from the British Crime Survey showed that up to five million people experienced stalking or harassment every year, however.

A leaflet offering advice to MPs on the subject of stalking, both in person and over the internet, will be offered at the event.

However, Hugh Rowland from Gotelee Solicitors in Ipswich says it might be hard to find out who is actually stalking you on the internet, "The difficulty is going to be trying to prove who is responsible for what's being known as cyber stalking and getting the internet service providers on board in doing their bit to police the internet. You can't prosecute an e-mail address from which cyberstalking is originating. You've got to find a particular individual to identify it."

He added if people do think they are being cyberstalked they should contact the police. For more advice on what to do if you're worried, follow the link to the Network For Surviving Stalking.