COMPLAINTS concerning online harassment cases in Staffordshire have increased by 100 per cent in the past three years.
Staffordshire Police revealed that complaints regarding online hate campaigns, stalking and death threats between 2010 and 2013 had doubled.
Forces bucking the national trend and witnessing a reduction in social media crime included Derbyshire Police.
Chief superintendent Juliet Prince said: “Facebook has opened up a new area for harassment. People can become obsessed with people they don’t know or have never met.
“It’s a problem that’s not going to go away.”
Police are offering the following advice to members of the public to help them spot and identify signs of cyber stalking.
When someone starts stalking:
• They become demanding or controlling;
• They are contacting people multiple times a day;
• They start sending aggressive, abusive or threatening text messages;
• They start to spread rumours or put abusive and embarrassing comments online via social networks;
• Money starts going missing from online bank accounts; and
• Information is deleted, such as friends’ contact details and emails.
Chief Constable Andy Trotter, of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said legal guidance made it difficult to prosecute.
He said: “Every force has specialist investigators who look into crimes with a link to social media. As the threshold for prosecution in relation to crimes using social media has been set very high, this means that only the most serious offences will be prosecuted.”
Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of online harassment is urged to visit www.thinkyouknow.co.uk/