Northamptonshire Police is supporting National Stalking Awareness Week by revealing case studies that demonstrate the horrors victims endure as a result of cyber stalking.
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.
Case study one
Amy’s ex-partner had access to all her social media and email accounts. He had used sites that he was familiar with, to post pictures of Amy. Pictures that had been taken without her consent, some while she was sleeping and some of a sexual nature. John would frequently check Amy’s phone and access her Facebook page. Amy believed that he had also accessed websites using her email account, as she had received emails from unknown sources and sites that she would not have been on.
John would also delete text message from her phone and social media, so that she remained unaware that someone was contacting her. Unknown to Amy, he had set up a Google profile of her with pictures, which received 2000 views within two weeks of it being set up. John used the profile to map her movements by checking where she had accessed Wi-Fi
A support package was placed around Amy, including multi-agency working with Police and housing. DC Steve Watkins, met with Amy and completed Cyber Target Hardening on her devices and email accounts, which protected the victim from further abuse and gave her reassurance that she was being taken seriously.
John was later convicted of harassment and assault. He was sentenced to 20 months for harassment and 20 months consecutive for assault and issued with a restraining order.
Case study two
Jane was living with her domestic abuse perpetrator and was planning to leave the relationship, however he always knew what she was doing and seemed to be able to anticipate all of her actions and plans. This resulted in an attempted suicide by the victim.
The Independent Domestic Violence Advisors (IDVA) responsible for managing her completed an assessment and determined that she was high risk. The Digital Media Investigator allocated to examine her devices and provide specific safety advice found that there was software on her devices designed to track her movements. As a result the victim was safeguarded and placed into safe accommodation, confident that the methods used to track her were now not applicable and therefore the victim could have a clean and safe exit from her perpetrator.
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.
Last year, Northamptonshire Police launched a pioneering approach to tackle cyber stalking and online abuse.
For help and advice call the National Stalking Awareness Line on 0808 802 0300