Stalking with technology

Whilst on a break from a sweep tasking over the weekend the team were discussing privacy and stalking. Simon Lincoln mentioned that during his police career he regularly dealt with cases of this type and it was a serious problem. All cases of stalking are serious and have a detrimental effect on the victim but Simon went on to say that some incidents are far more sinister than others. What’s aided the perpetrator and added to the sinister side of these crimes is easily available technology, it is becoming increasing apparent that technology is being used more and more for the wrong reasons.

Simon gave a recent example of an incident (incident in 2019/trial Nov 22) that he had read in the press where a 45 yr. old man was utilising a hidden camera to capture images and stream live video of a teenage girl to his mobile phone, the camera, sent moving images of the girl to his mobile phone. When the individual was arrested Upon being arrested his phone was searched and a link to the camera feed was found, as well as images of the girl in various stages of undress. At trial the individual admitted to setting up the camera after being caught but denied it was for sexual gratification, initially pleading not guilty to the offences before changing his plea. However, in sentencing, the Judge told the perpetrator – “you installed a secret camera” and “did it for your own sexual gratification”.

We often write and post articles providing advice and good practices on various topics including privacy (7/3/22, 29/3/22 8/4/22 & 10/11/22) but we don’t often highlight the impact on the victims, which is significant. Often when interviewing suspects, their response is “I didn’t know it was illegal” or “I was doing it for fun”. The suspects don’t realise or claim not to realise that as well as a privacy impact on the individual, there is a significant mental health impact as well. Most victims are left traumatised by these crimes and although the suspects claims it was harmless, it never is.

To highlight this issue further, in the example case an impact statement was read out to the court from the victim, which described how the perpetrators actions had ‘traumatised’ her, and that she had been ‘constantly on edge’ after the incident, even attempting to end her own life as a result of the depression she had suffered since the events. The statement went on to say: “I don’t think I’ll ever recover from the problems that the perpetrators actions have caused me. I never wanted to be a victim but he made me one.”

Advise, training and awareness are key elements to staying safe and can benefit us all. But where crimes of this type are committed its vitally important that the victims are prioritised (considered) and given the assistance they need, this is something we have become more and more conscious of when conducting or involved in tasks (of all types) especially when interacting directly with someone who has fallen foul of the type of activity. We have a good blend of experience here at Valkyrie which we can draw on to deal with most situations but as with all things we continue to enhance and evolve our service offering, as we all should.

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