Cop’s new app will help fight cyber crime in Bedford

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A Kempston cop has gone back to uni to develop a phone app that will protect millions of people from cyber crime.

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Beresford has been seconded to the University of Bedfordshire, where the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research is based.

Together with the experts Dr Emma Short and Professor James Barnes, he is perfecting cutting edge plans that will revolutionise the way police deal with the fast-growing crimes of cyberstalking and cyber harassment.

The three-point plan, due to be rolled out next year, starts with an app for smart phone users to download for free from major sites such as Google Play.

This will enable victims of cyber crimes to capture vital evidence, whether it is a text, photo, visual or audio file, at the click of a button.

All the evidence and associated data can be fed by police directly into the second stage of the uni’s system – an assessment tool called ‘Drash.’

“This will allow us to assess the true risk posed to the victim and formulate the right response to make sure they are safeguarded,” said DCI Beresford.

Once the perpetrator is identified, police will pounce. Offenders could face a hefty fine or a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

Or, to save strain on the judicial system, less serious offenders could be offered a chance to take up the third strand of the uni’s project – a cyber awareness course.

“It’s similar to a speed awareness course in that it gives offenders a chance to realise the seriousness of what they have done and the consequences it can have upon people’s lives,” said DCI Beresford.

“People often think that because they commit these offences by a cyber means, they have an anonymity. That is not the case at all and we will do all we possibly can to bring them to justice,” he added.

The research centre is looking for victims of unreported cyber stalking or cyber harassment to join a focus group to help develop the project to the final stages.

Anybody who is interested should email nccr@beds.ac.uk.