Senior Police Officer Urges Cyber-Stalking Laws Review

A senior police officer has called on the government to review the laws on cyber-stalking in the UK.  He believes they are not fit for purpose.

Gary Shewan, Greater Manchester Assistant Chief Constable wants police to be given more powers to seize computers believed to be used to harass victims online.

Although it is difficult to prove who carries out online stalking despite the ease of which it is to recognise which computer is used.

Mr Shewan met ministers at the Home Office last week.  The Home Office says it will investigate this issue.

Currently cyber-stalkers can be charged either under the Protection from Harassment Act (PHA), or by the Malicious Communications Act (MCA).

With the increase in the number of people using computers, so has the ability to collect personal information online.  Mr Shewan wants it to be easier to seize computer equipment from a suspect and to get providers to hand over the IP address of each computer.

Prosecutions under the MCA have soared to all-time high and increased by almost 300% in five years, up to 899 in 2010.

In the past five years, charges under the PHA have risen from just below 12,000 up to 12,549.

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