Mapping out the key stages of cyberstalking investigations in Australia

B. O’Shea1*, R. Julian2, J. Prichard3, S. Kelty4

1 University of Tasmania, Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies TILES, Hobart, Australia
2 University of Tasmania, Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies TILES, Hobart, Australia
3 University of Tasmania, Faculty of Law, Hobart, Australia
4 University of Canberra, Centre for Applied Psychology, Faculty of Health, Bruce, Australia

*corresponding author: Brianna.OShea@utas.edu.au

There has been very little criminological research on the process of investigation and the factors that impact upon it (Innes, 2002), particularly in cases of cyberstalking. Empirical data from interviews with Australian police investigators and prosecutors, identifies critical decision making points in the investigation of cyberstalking. This paper provides a critical discussion of the 7 key stages of a cyberstalking investigation outlined by Casey (2004) which are: interviewing the victim; interviewing others; victimology and risk assessment; additional digital evidence; crime scene characteristics; motivation; and repeating the stages if necessary. A far more complex map is proposed to detail the investigative process from the initial report of the incident to the preparation of the prosecution brief. This paper identifies the members of Police and other organisations and agencies involved in the investigative process of cyberstalking. The tensions surrounding the expectations of prosecutors compared to the realities of investigators will be discussed. Stalking both online and offline is notoriously difficult to prove in Australia and mapping out the key stages of cyberstalking may be used to inform policy and procedures surrounding the process of investigation and the impacting factors.

Biography

Brianna O’Shea has a Bachelor of Behavioural Science majoring in Psychology, Criminology and Behavioural Neuroscience and a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Criminology from the University of Tasmania. Brianna is a PhD Candidate at the Tasmanian Institute of Law Enforcement Studies. She received the Australian Postgraduate Award for her PhD study titled ‘The Investigation and Prosecution of Cyberstalking in Australia’. Brianna also received a Teaching Fellowship in Police Studies and is now an Associate Lecturer at the University of Tasmania. Her current research interests include justice agency responses to cybercrime; crime prevention and child exploitation material.

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