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Innovative app launched in Scotland to help women report stalking to the police

Image of phone showing FollowIt App

The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre (SWRC) today launched FollowIt App, a mobile app designed to help women in Scotland record stalking incidents and assist them if they want to report this crime to the police.

The app was developed by SWRC in partnership with media co-op as a response to the challenges many women face in trying to demonstrate the pattern of behaviour they experience.

Earlier this year, the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey 2017-2018 revealed that women aged 16-24 are the most affected by stalking and harassment (27%) and only 1 in 10 victims (both male and female) reported these incidents to the police.

Though there are many reasons why survivors of gender-based violence choose not to report their experience to the police, a particular challenge when it comes to stalking is that it can be incredibly difficult to recognise that this is what is taking place. The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre say that this is because stalking is a crime of escalation and ‘it often starts slowly, with small actions that make it difficult to pinpoint.’

FollowIt App was designed to enable women to securely record and store details of stalking using the technology they already have at hand.

Through the app, women can record details such as the time and location of the incident, whether the stalker was known to them, the how they felt, and related videos or photos. This helps to build up a picture of events and their impact.

They can then request a report with the information logged which can be handed to the police as evidence. They can also ask the police to request a report on their behalf.

Katy Mathieson, Coordinator of the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre said:

“FollowIt App was developed to address an access to justice need identified by victim/survivors of stalking. Women contacting our services were highlighting difficulties in keeping a safe and secure log of incidents. Stalking is a course of conduct crime, which means that it is necessary to demonstrate that there have been 2 or more incidents which caused fear or alarm. While there is no expectation or requirement for women using the app to report to the Police, we hope that FollowIt App will provide a helpful tool for women experiencing stalking and will assist those who do decide to report.”

media co-op said:

“FollowIt App started when a victim of stalking called Rape Crisis Scotland helpline and said how hard it is to keep the records of stalking incidents that the police need for an investigation. Rape Crisis came to us to say surely technology can provide a better way? Throughout the development of this App, people directly affected have been in the lead. We didn’t make this all up in the office: we designed it from the bottom up, with direct participation of victims of stalking, support workers, police, lawyers, and prosecutors. media co-op is an ethical not-for-profit workers cooperative, and we are proud to be partners of the Scottish Women's Rights Centre, creating this app to help women get justice.”

Notes to editors

  • FollowIt App is managed and delivered by the Scottish Women’s Rights Centre.
  • The app is free to use and available to women 18 years old and over living in Scotland. It can be downloaded for Android and iOS by visiting: www.followitapp.org.uk.
  • The app was designed with input from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), Police Scotland, violence against women organisations, and with victims/survivors of stalking.
  • FollowIt App campaign video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6Srf_UJyYU&feature=youtu.be
  • The Scottish Women’s Rights Centre is a collaboration between Rape Crisis Scotland, JustRight Scotland and the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic. The Centre provides free legal information, advice, representation and advocacy support for women in Scotland who have experienced or are experiencing gender based violence.

Press contact

Natalia Equihua, communications@scottishwomensrightscentre.org.uk, 0141 331 4183.

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