Thursday September 23, 2010
Carole Erskine, Sky News Online
New guidelines on dealing with stalking will be published by the Crown Prosecution Service later, aimed at people who use the internet to target others.
Experts say a code of conduct about how to behave online is badly needed
More than a million women and 900,000 men are stalked every year, but that does not include any so called cyber-stalking or on-line harassment.
Police say cyber-stalking is unwanted communication that causes fear, alarm or distress and can be sent by email, social networking sites or text messages.
A leading psychologist says many people harass by accident because they don't know how to behave on-line, so more guidelines and a code of conduct need to be introduced.
Dr Emma Short from the University of Bedfordshire told Sky News: "It's not just about legislation to protect others, it's about becoming personally aware about our security online.
"We are very careful about how we behave off-line, we keep safe and we avoid the dangerous parts of town.
"But online people are much less certain of who is watching them, who can see what they are putting our there and how vulnerable that might make them."
Alongside the CPS's new legal guidance, a new research project is being launched to discover the full extent of the cyber-stalking problem.
But those involved with the project say it is also up to individuals to ensure they are adequately protected online.
Ihave enlarged the headline so muratfan doesn't miss it
- Posts : 2150
Reputation : 33
Join date : 2009-12-01
Location : Emirates Stadium
Prosecutors announce new guidelines to tackle stalkers, including those who use the internet to target victims
Thursday 23 September 2010 19.03 BST
Stalkers, including those who use the internet to target victims, will face tougher action, it was announced today, as prosecutors admitted they have failed to take the problem seriously in the past.
Suspected online and face-to-face stalkers will face court orders banning them from contacting victims, the Crown Prosecution Service pledged, even when they have been acquitted by the courts.
"Stalkers steal lives," said Nazir Afzal, CPS community liaison director. "We as police and prosecutors haven't taken it seriously in the past. Now we do."
The announcement came as prosecutors were given new guidance on how to deal with cases of stalking, including conducting risk assessments of victims and working with other agencies.
Online stalking, including via social networking sites such as Facebook, will also lead to criminal prosecutions as experts believe the number of cases is rising sharply.
In the most recent British Crime Survey, published this year, 18.7% of women and 9.3% of men said they had been stalked at some point in their lives. Experts say that half of all stalkers now use the internet to contact or target their victims.
Prosecutors estimate that around 1 million people in the UK have experienced stalking. Although no figures are collated on the number of cases dealt with through the courts, there are thought to have only been a few hundred prosecutions.
"People have not been reporting stalking cases," said Afzal. "We believe that if people realise we are talking it seriously, that will encourage them to come forward."
But the measures are likely to provoke controversy, as an increased use of "restraining orders" will target even those who have been acquitted by courts.
"There may be cases where a victim has given evidence about stalking but the court does not convict the suspect. Restraining orders will be a vital tool … for the ongoing need for the protection of the victim," said Arwel Jones, CPS policy unit head for law and procedure.
"In cases of cyber-stalking, restraining orders can prevent the individual from communicating via a social networking site. A breach of a restraining order carries criminal liability."
Critics have long called for reform of a law that still does not recognise stalking as a distinct criminal offence. The existing guidelines instruct prosecutors to use the existing Protection from Harassment Act, which was passed in 1997 before the widespread use of the internet.
Prosecutors have said they will proceed in cases where there is sufficient evidence, even if the victim is against the action being taken. "We hope that charity organisations will provide the necessary support," Jones said.
Victims' groups welcomed the new guidelines. "This new guidance will go a long way to improving the lives of victims and to make sure that perpetrators are treated appropriately by the courts. Recognising in particular new forms of stalking such as cyber-stalking is ground-breaking," said Alexis Bowater, chief executive for the Network for Surviving Stalking.
"We hope the inclusion of cyber-stalking for the first time will encourage everyone involved to take this crime more seriously."
The new guidelines on prosecuting stalking come amidst continuing high-profile celebrity stalking cases, with actress Keira Knightly among those whose stalkers have been arrested by police.
What gives them the right have to ask children to complete forms, telling them when and where they are going on holiday?
ways you can help
poster display map
Students for Madeleine
Support: Students for Madeleine
Reaching out to all students……………………Can you help?
We are launching a new initiative for students to help us in our search for Madeleine. To increase our chances of finding Madeleine, it is vital that we maintain awareness of her in as many places as possible worldwide. 1 in 6 children are found and returned to their families, simply because a member of the general public has recognised them after seeing their face on a poster!
We know that many students travel over the summer, often to places off the beaten path. Others may decide to take a ‘gap-year’ before continuing on to university.
If you are a student and would be willing to help with this initiative, we would be very grateful if you would fill-out the form below. Our ‘Students for Madeleine’ Program Manager will then make contact with you to suggest ways in which you can help.
If you have any questions regarding this aspect of the Find Madeleine Campaign, please send an Email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Member of Student Union: Yes No
Member of social networking sites (check all that apply)?:
Are you travelling this year?: Yes No
If yes, where are you going? (example: Country1, Country2, Country 3):
Type the two words:
- Posts : 2603
Reputation : 1
Join date : 2009-11-25
never tell anyone you dont know in the real world your address and your name when online, use your nickname or initials instead of your real name - you dont want just anyone knowing who you are - never tell people you dont know where you are going.
There is much suspicion about the Fund, there is much suspicion about the Mccanns who were made suspects in the disappearance of Madeleine, and have not been cleared from that suspicion, therefore there could quite rightly be suspicion about the supporters of the Mccanns and anyone associated with their websites etc. They are not a registered charity and some would say therefore not a bona fide recognisable body, also taking into account allegations made before about some of their backers - e.g. Kennedy and his companies. Therefore I would have thought that any responsible parent would not encourage in any way their children to fill in any forms or be involved in this project at all. However some students may give this information without the knowledge of their parents - extremely worrying also as has been mentioned in light of the Gaspar statements which many parents will not be aware of due to the coverup going on and the Press not printing the true facts of the case.
The fact is the students dont know who they are really dealing with and who they are really giving this information to and for what purpose. imo If the PJ believe that Madeleine died in the appartment then it is very disturbing that students are being encouraged to look for Madeleine. Why are young people being used in this way?
- Posts : 2150
Reputation : 33
Join date : 2009-12-01
Location : Emirates Stadium
24 September 2010
A new survey has been launched in an effort to find out the true level of cyberstalking in the UK.
It comes a day after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) unveiled new guidance to prosecutors and promised to get tough on cyberstalkers.
More than one million women and 900,000 men are stalked in the UK every year, according to the British Crime Survey.
But until now no research has been done to find out how many people are stalked or harassed online.
On Friday the Electronic Communication Harassment Observation (Echo) survey, commissioned by the charity Network for Surviving Stalking, was launched by researchers at the University of Bedfordshire.
They are hoping to find people who have been stalked, harassed or threatened through e-mail, on internet chatrooms or on social networking sites like Facebook.
Project leader Dr Emma Short said: "There are stalkers for whom the internet and mobile phones are just convenient 'tools of their trade'.
"But we think there are also vast numbers of internet users who are engaged in harassing behaviours simply because they don't know the rules of appropriate online communication.
"At the moment there are very few widely agreed guidelines or rules about how to behave online - we hope Echo will define behaviours that are generally experienced as anti-social or likely to cause distress in online communication."
On Thursday the CPS's community liaison director, Nazir Afzal, said the new guidance to prosecutors was the first time stalking - and cyberstalking in particular - had been officially recognised.
'Fear and trepidation'
Mr Afzal said: "Stalkers steal lives, that was the message I picked up from speaking to victims. Victims stop trusting those they know and every stranger is seen as a threat.
"People often can't answer the phone, receive texts or go to a familiar place without fear and trepidation. We want to give people their lives back."
Alexis Bowater, chief executive for the Network for Surviving Stalking, welcomed the new CPS guidelines.
She said: "This will go a long way to improving the lives of victims and to making sure that perpetrators are treated appropriately by the courts. Recognising, in particular, new forms of stalking such as cyberstalking is groundbreaking."
Liz Lynne, Lib Dem MEP for the West Midlands, said: "The crime of cyberstalking has exploded across Europe with the growth of the internet and social networking sites.
"It is not just celebrities who attract stalkers, nor is it just something that affects teenagers."
Below is a selection of your comments
I have just had to leave Twitter due to an exceptional amount of harassment from somebody on there, who was warned by the police not to contact me or any third party about me. He contacted most men I spoke to on Twitter even via their blogs and gave a very inaccurate portrayal of what I am like in real life. He has given me three years of hell where I am now at a point where I find it difficult to go out and socialise because I'm scared what he will do next.
I am still being stalked and widely bullied across a number of websites. Unfortunately my opponents are laughing - I sued them in a libel suit and they won the cases. Yet their lawyers seek to get me declared as a vexatious litigant, barring me from taking any legal action against them. So much for getting protection online. Maybe I should report them for stalking instead.
I was stalked by an ex-girlfriend. The stalking consisted of endless abusive texts and e-mails. When I eventually managed to block her she then turned her attention to my ex-wife, girlfriend, ex-girlfriends. Usually she'd contact them by text telling them to keep away from me. Then she'd create false profiles on Facebook to contact friends, or she'd create Hotmail accounts using names of people I knew to contact me, with the usual tirade of abuse in the e-mail. I reported her to the police on three occasions but she was let off with a warning. The woman turned out to be bi-polar and had a history of this behaviour.
I have been cyberstalked - I had my photos taken from my profile and used to make up fake profile. I've been called everything under the sun on the profile I have on a social networking site; my e-mail address posted on a site offering cam sex; my mobile phone number posted; and not only on the one social networking site - they followed me to another site and made up fake profiles to try to speak to me. It's not nice for the victim, especially as I am agoraphobic and use networking sites as a link to the outside world.
People who have been or are being harassed online should be helped, but not by a criminal investigation towards the harassers. These people need to learn the consequences of posting personal information on the internet. You should even be wary of giving out your e-mail address. Nowadays many people will just give it out. Most of this information gathering is for corporate purposes, but any lunatic can make use of this free info as well. A hacker has a better chance than someone who isn't, but they can get pretty far too.
The Electronic Communication Harassment Observation (Echo) survey, commissioned by the charity Network for Surviving Stalking