Stalkers across London could be slung behind bars in less than 24 hours thanks to new technology being trialled by the Met Police. 

Officers are being given access to software that could chop weeks or months off the majority of stalking and harassment cases. 

The computer programme can analyse thousands of lines of mobile phone data within seconds, producing a map that pinpoints every time the stalker and their victim were in the same location at the same time.

Officers previously had to trawl through huge computer spreadsheets, manually processing the data. 

Detective Sergeant Gurps Singh, one of the analysts who was tasked with that job, said he had seen “what was previously weeks of work reduced to ten seconds” during the trial. 

The first stalking case to successfully use the programme – previously deployed in gang and county lines drug-dealing investigations – secured the conviction of a Dagenham man who relentlessly harassed his ex-girlfriend. 

Anhar Hussain, 23, of Review Road, pleaded guilty at Snaresbrook Crown Court on November 21 to harassment with fear of violence, arson and various driving offences. 

He will be sentenced on December 19. 

In a media briefing at New Scotland Yard, detectives warned other stalkers that Hussain could be the first of many. 

Not enough analysts 

Last year, the Metropolitan Police Service received 126,000 reports of stalking, said Detective Superintendent Lewis Blasford, head of public protection for London’s East Area Command Unit (BCU). 

But, he said, “They were hard to deal with because of big data.” 

Newham Recorder: Detective Superintendent Lewis Blasford, head of public protection for the East Area Command UnitDetective Superintendent Lewis Blasford, head of public protection for the East Area Command Unit (Image: Charles Thomson)

The average person’s phone usage would generate roughly 1,000 lines of data per month. 

“If you’re a stalker, you’re going to be making more,” said Det Supt Blasford. 

“The big issue here is we haven’t got enough analysts, nationally. 

“If we are talking about 126,000 stalking cases just for the Met – if I’m being conservative and saying that in 80% of those we had a digital footprint, that’s still 100,000 cases requiring analysts, and no one has got that.” 

Hussain’s victim had persistently reported his behaviour to the police and described their response as “useless”. 

Despite being arrested twice, said Detective Constable Cathleeya Kittisara from the East Area BCU, police had to bail him pending further enquiries, during which time “he showed no regard for our justice system and continued to harass, threaten and cause distress to the victim in every possible way”. 

Newham Recorder: DC Cathleeya Kittisara from the East Area Borough Command UnitDC Cathleeya Kittisara from the East Area Borough Command Unit (Image: Charles Thomson)

“So much easier” 

But after the introduction of the software, he was arrested, charged and remanded within 24 hours. 

In a live demonstration at New Scotland Yard, DS Singh processed more than 6,000 lines of phone data from the Hussain case in 1.5 seconds.  

“It’s made my life so much easier,” he said. 

The programme showed officers that Hussain had called his victim more than 900 times in two-and-a-half weeks. 

Officers asked the software to check for any instances where Hussain and his victim had been within 500 metres of one another, within five minutes of one another.  

It immediately produced a map showing Hussain – whose victim had a non-molestation order against him – had been in the same place as her more than 150 times in a month. 

Previously, said DS Singh, he would have had to manually plot every point on a mapping tool himself. 

"Game changer"

The software does not only analyse phone data, but data from any device which records people’s locations, including sat-navs and even laptops with 5G chips in. 

“The use of this technology was a first for me,” said DC Kittisara. 

“Having the ability to present mobile phone data to the Crown Prosecution Service in a format that’s easily understood by all is a game changer.” 

The evidence is so simple to understand, said Det Supt Blasford, that it will also likely result in more guilty pleas, sparing victims from having to testify at trial. 

This was the case for Hussain, who pleaded guilty and is now awaiting sentencing. 

Newham Recorder: Hussain's victim said her view of the police had 'changed massively' after the technology enabled them to take swift actionHussain's victim said her view of the police had 'changed massively' after the technology enabled them to take swift action (Image: Charles Thomson)

His victim said her opinion of the police had “changed massively". 

“When [DC Kittisara] took over my case it was so different,” she said. “She made me feel so comfortable.” 

In future, said Det Supt Blasford, it is possible that the programme could also be used in rape and child sexual exploitation cases. 

“The most important element resulting from the trial so far is a better service to the victim, who previously could spend significant time waiting for the investigation to conclude due to the big data that these offences create,” he said. 

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