Hampshire Police are lending their support to National Stalking Awareness Week which takes place April 18 – April 24)
The Suzy Lamplugh trust has released the results of the first nationwide in-depth British study on the nature and extent of cyberstalking this week and the study shows that people in the UK are increasingly being targeted using online methods.
Detective Chief Inspector Tim Rowlandson who leads on stalking for the force said: “We are definitely seeing more cases in which stalkers are using social media to access their victims, it appears that contacting a victim online is used in parallel to physical stalking. Stalking using any method can have a devastating effect on those affected, leaving them feeling powerless to stop it.
“While some of the individual actions involved may sometimes seem relatively minor, such as text messages or social media messages, taken together over a period of months or even years they can have a significant impact.
“We would advise everyone to be mindful of their social media settings. We are not saying to people that they should change their way of life, just be aware of how much and what type of information is made available to others.”
Throughout next week we will be using our own social media channels to remind our followers of the steps they can take to protect themselves online:
- What already exists online about you? Google your name to find out – remove anything private or inappropriate
- Ensure security software and apps are up to date, this will prevent someone getting spyware onto your computer.
- Be wary of publishing on social media where you are going and when.
- Avoid putting photos of yourself online which reveal details about your location i.e. school uniform, local bar etc.
- Use privacy settings online to limit who you share with online. Only share information about yourself with those you trust.
- Don’t be afraid to report cyber-stalking to the police it is a crime and will be treated seriously.
Hampshire Constabulary is at the forefront of dealing with stalking. Last year the force was recognised as a centre of excellence as part of the UK consultation on stalking commissioned by Network for Surviving Stalking in partnership with Women’s Aid, End Male Violence Against Women (White Ribbon Campaign), and Action Scotland Against Stalking.
A specific piece of work highlighted in the report was the Hampshire Stalking Clinic. Specialist officers from Hampshire Constabulary lead the clinic involving partner agencies to deal with stalking offences appropriately and support victims.
The agencies involved this year include:
- Hampshire Constabulary
- National Probation Service
- Southern Health NHS Foundation
- IDVA services
- Aurora New Dawn
The stalking clinic has received 749 referrals in the past year and provided in depth advice on around 50 cases.