Technology, cyberstalking and domestic homicide: informing prevention and response strategies

Todd, Chris, Bryce, Joanne orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-9144-2899 and Franqueira, Virginia N. L. (2021) Technology, cyberstalking and domestic homicide: informing prevention and response strategies. Policing and Society, 31 (1). pp. 82-99. ISSN 1043-9463

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An emerging concern in relation to the importance of technology and social media in everyday life relates to their ability to facilitate online and offline stalking, domestic violence and escalation to homicide. However, there has been little empirical research or policing and policy attention to this domain. This study examined the extent to which there was evidence of the role of technology and cyberstalking in domestic homicide cases based on the analysis of 41 Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) documents, made available by the Home Office (UK). Three interviews were also conducted with victims or family members of domestic homicide in the UK. It aimed to develop a deeper understanding of the role of technology in facilitating these forms of victimisation to inform further development of investigative practice, risk assessment and safeguarding procedures. Key themes identified by the thematic analysis undertaken related to behavioural and psychological indicators of cyberstalking, evidence of the role of technology in escalation to homicide and the digital capabilities of law enforcement. Overall, the results indicated that: (1) there was evidence of technology and social media playing a facilitating role in these behaviours, (2) the digital footprints of victims and perpetrators were often overlooked in police investigations and the DHR process and (3) determining the involvement of technology in such cases is important for risk assessment and earlier intervention to prevent escalation of behaviour to domestic homicide. It also indicates the importance of further developing evidence-based approaches to preventing and responding for victims, the police and other practitioners.

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