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Police plea for vigilance in bid to thwart stalkers

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 19, 2013

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DERBYSHIRE Police are raising awareness of digital stalking and improper use of the internet as part of a national campaign.

The force wants to remind people in South Derbyshire that stalking is now a criminal offence.

Officers are concerned that although the legislation came into effect four months ago, victims are still not coming forward to get the help and advice available.

Detective Inspector Hayley Barnett, from the force’s public protection department, said: “People often assume that stalkers follow their victims to their place of work, or send them presents. But with the development of technology, cyber stalking is becoming more common.

“We want to make people aware of this and encourage them to come forward to speak to the police if they believe they’re being targeted. Stalking is illegal and is unacceptable in any form.”

Stalking is defined as unwanted contact with a person, but this is not just limited to physical stalking.

As technology has advanced, so too has the means by which people can target and stalk their victims. It can take the form of unwanted texts, letters, emails and phone calls.

People who stalk their victims online often monitor their posts on social networking sites to see where they go and who they are with.

They can hack into their victim’s online accounts, send hurtful or threatening messages via the internet or even put spyware software on phones or computers to monitor their victim.

Police are urging people to tell friends, family and colleagues about what is happening and gather evidence against stalkers.

The force is also urging people to be careful of how they use the internet, in particular social networking sites.

This comes after the Mail reported earlier this month about the dangers of spreading rumours and making threats on sites such as Facebook and Twitter following an alleged serious sexual assault in High Street, Swadlincote.

Section inspector Paul Cannon spoke out after an alleged attack which saw a 19-year-old charged with a sexual offence.

He said: “When people head online and post untruths it is of no help to anyone.”

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