On 13th November, I presented a talk at a joint Paladin/Collyer-Bristow event. Paladin, the National Stalking Advocacy Service, assists high risk victims of stalking throughout England and Wales. Collyer Bristow’s Cyber Investigation Unit (CIU), which is headed up by partner Rhory Robertson, comprises a dedicated team of lawyers who advise victims of cyberstalking, cyber harassment, cyber bullying and internet trolls/trolling.
The major discussion of this event surrounded the notion of cyberstalking, how it affects victims, and how to combat this increasingly prevalent crime. My talk covered the research we are currently undertaking on the DOOM project, and how networks of abusive individuals can form online, potentially leading to escalation. Other speakers at the event included:
- Nadine Dorries MP, Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, and a cyberstalking target
- Betsy De Thierry, Founder Director of the Trauma Recovery Centre, and a cyberstalking target
- Laura Richards, CEO of Paladin, the National Stalking Advocacy Service
- Steve Slater, Computer Forensics Manager, Devon & Cornwall Police
- Alison Morgan, Barrister at 6KBW
Several points clearly emerged from this event, including the fact that there is much work to be done around stalking and harassment, that victims need to be taken much more seriously, that the correct legislation needs to be applied when prosecuting, and the recognition that online stalking can be just as damaging – if not more so in some cases – as physical, offline stalking.
On 17th October 2013 I spent the afternoon at the House of Lords, giving a keynote for the British Federation of Women Graduates (BFWG). Founded in 1907, BFWG has been providing scholarships for women in their final year of degree study since 1912, and it regularly makes awards from its charity to women graduates undertaking postgraduate study and research. BFWG is committed to promoting women’s opportunities in education and public life; fostering local, national, and international friendships; and improving the lives of women and girls worldwide. As such, it was a great honour to be asked by this wonderful organisation to give a keynote at their annual House of Lords seminar, sponsored by Baroness Randerson of Roath Park. Each year the seminar has a theme, and this year’s was, “A woman’s right to know”. The three invited speakers were:
Dr Shuruq Naguib (Lancaster University): “Muslim women: Gender and religious authority”. This talk discussed how women are represented in the Qu’ran and in Islamic thought throughout history.
Sian West (University of Kent): “Restorative justice: Does it work?” This talk considered the benefits of restorative justice and the role of women as victims or perpetrators in the social context in which they find themselves.
Dr Claire Hardaker (Lancaster University): “Meaning and meanness: Disconnecting the online threat from the offline reality”. In this talk, I covered four major areas: (1) What does the term trolling mean? (2) What motivations seem to prompt individuals to troll? (3) How is trolling carried out? And (4) How do those who troll “rationalise” their behaviour? (The slides for this talk can be accessed here.)
My many thanks to BFWG President Jenny Morley, to Vice-President Gabrielle Suff, to The Baroness Randerson, and to all the guests and attendees who made my visit especially warm, friendly, and hospitable. (Pictures of the seminar and lunch can be found here.)