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Apps including Snapchat and Find my iPhone blamed for huge rise in Norfolk stalking

PUBLISHED: 11:52 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 11:52 31 July 2019

Mandy Proctor, chief executive of Leeway, the charity providing support to those experiencing domestic abuse.  Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Mandy Proctor, chief executive of Leeway, the charity providing support to those experiencing domestic abuse. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

The head of a Norfolk domestic violence charity has said the rise in location tracking technology including Snapchat and Find My iPhone could be behind an increase in reports of stalking offences.

Police saw more than a 1000pc rise in reports of stalking offences between 2013 and 2018 in Norfolk.

Just two offences of stalking involving fear of violence were recorded in 2013, but this rose to 23 in 2018 - a rise of 1050pc.

And the figures, revealed by a freedom of information request to the force, also showed stalking involving serious alarm or distress had risen by 1700pc - from three to 54 - in the same period.

READ MORE: Police take the positives from huge rise in Norfolk stalking offences

While police bosses welcomed the figures and described the rise as proof of "increased awareness both locally and nationally" of the crime, campaigners have linked the rise in reporting to changes in technology and called for the introduction of a stalking register.

Mandy Proctor, chief executive of Leeway, a charity offering support to those experiencing domestic violence or abuse in Norfolk and Suffolk, said: "The increase in the number of stalking cases is positive and shows that people are now more aware of stalking and the types of behaviour this involves than they were a few years ago.

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"The increased use of technology such a smart phones and social media sites may have also had an impact on the rise in offences.

"Victims will often be bombarded with unwanted messages, whilst some perpetrators may take advantage of location tracking features that can be found in popular apps like Snapchat or Find My iPhone.

READ MORE: Police take the positives from huge rise in Norfolk stalking offences

"Technology has become a lot more readily available in the last decade and is being abused by perpetrators to monitor victims.

"Despite the increase in reporting, it is important to continue to raise awareness of stalking and challenge this behaviour, while empowering others to access support.

"It is great that so many people felt confident enough to report offences to the police, but there will be many experiencing stalking that have not reported.

"We feel that the introduction of a stalking register would be enable the police to monitor repeat offenders and hope that this is something that the government will consider when debating the Domestic Abuse Bill in the coming months."

For free, confidential advice call the Leeway domestic abuse helpline on 0300 561 0077.

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