Bedfordshire Police is seeking support for an innovative, collaborative project which aims to transform the investigation of cyberharassment and stalking in Bedfordshire and further afield.
The Cyberharassment Project is the result of a successful bid to the Police Innovation Fund which will be jointly led by the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research (NCCR) at the University of Bedfordshire and the Office of the PCC.
Stalking and harassment currently makes up 36 per cent of all online crime. In Bedfordshire, almost a fifth (19%) of stalking and harassment cases are cyber-related, and cyberharassment cases in Bedfordshire are showing a distinct increasing trend as the availability of social media and internet devices grows, along with awareness of this highly distressing crime type.
The scheme, which will see a team of academic researchers working alongside digitally-trained officers in the heart of the Cyber Hub, aims to provide a technological solution to cyberharassment and will explore the development of a series of investigative, prevention and restorative tools which will risk-assess cases and ensure they are appropriately dealt with.
The project is jointly funded by partners as well as match-funding from the Police Innovation Fund and is scheduled over two years.
It is hoped that an effective cyber risk-assessment tool, an evidence-gathering app and a restorative educational awareness scheme will be developed as a result of the work, in order to raise positive case outcomes, increased reporting and an improvement in the victim experience.
Detective Superintendent Jon Gilbert said: “We simply cannot underestimate the sheer scale and impact of technology on crime. Nowadays we all live part of our lives online, and as we well know this provide an additional arena for criminals to exploit.
“By involving academia and taking learnings from elsewhere in the country we can identify an evidence-base with which to better tackle harassment in the cybersphere, and in doing so see a more effective and efficient way of triaging and investigating such offences.
“We are hoping to use collective intelligence of all staff and partners in designing our best responses to this growing crime type moving forward. If anyone feels they have something to contribute then please get in touch by replying to this blog, or contacting our communications officer firstname.lastname@example.org.”