Posted Tuesday, 6 May 2014 at 09:22
This morning I shall lead a debate on cyberstalking in Westminster Hall. Cyberstalking occurs when someone becomes obsessively fixated with another and pursues them using electronic means that cause distress or fear in the victim.
As we have moved into an age of electronic information and communication, stalkers have found new, more effective and efficient means to perpetrate their malicious acts. A report last year of victims that had contacted the National Stalking Helpline found that some form of technology was used by their stalker in over 70% of cases.
Perceived anonymity is one factor that can lead to toxic disinhibition, by removing a capable guardian, accountability and shame. Threats conducted under the shroud of anonymity can lead to increased fear in the victim.
We need to ensure that there are sufficient education and training programmes around the issue of cyberstalking. People at all levels and all areas of the justice system must be aware about just how skilful these cyberstalkers can be, and how far and significant the impact can be. This is not a simple undertaking, but it is very important.
It is also important people become aware that, due to legislative changes that received royal ascent last year, there is help available to the victims of cyberstalking in the form of legal action and prosecution. The only way cyberstalking can be reduced is if victims make use of the legislative changes available and effective prosecutions occur. Only then will we see bullies, faced with a deterrent, think twice about their pervasive behaviour.
Nadine Dorries MP
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
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