Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Police Unit to Tackle Threat of Internet Stalking in Region; CRIME CHIEF: DOMESTIC ABUSE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Police Unit to Tackle Threat of Internet Stalking in Region; CRIME CHIEF: DOMESTIC ABUSE WILL NOT BE TOLERATED

Article excerpt

Byline: SOPHIE DOUGHTY Crime Reporter sophie.doughty@ncjmedia.co.uk @Sophie_Doughty

A NORTH East police force has set up a special unit to tackle online stalkers.

Northumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird has secured funding from the Home Office to set-up a specialist domestic abuse cyber stalking and harassment team, to tackle the problem of abusers who use technology to torment their victims. Dame Vera has issued a message to stalkers and their victims during National Stalking Awareness Week.

The commissioner believes technology has made it easier for offenders harass their victims in new ways.

And Dame Vera said police now need to be ready to deal with the equally distressing problem of cyber stalking.

She said: "Let me be clear from the outset, here in Northumbria we take domestic violence and stalking seriously.

"Like traditional stalking, many victims of cyber stalking are in abusive relationships with partners who are monitoring their behaviour. Some of this monitoring may be very obvious - such as when a victim is forced to hand over their mobile to have their texts or social media posts checked.

"But digital technologies can also enhance the controlling behaviour of a partner, or ex-partner, in less obvious ways - such as allowing them to install spyware that will help them to locate a mobile phone, and its user, listen in to its surroundings, access a log of calls made and receive and get copies of any messages or emails that have been sent - all without the victim's knowledge or consent."

Dame Vera put a bid in to the Home Office's VAWG transformation fund to start the new team, which launched in January.

The squad is designed to help both male and female victims of domestic abuse who are being abused and harassed digitally.

Initially operating on an 18-month pilot basis in Sunderland, it will also offer guidance to South Tyneside officers. …

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