The Local Government Association (LGA) and the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) have launched an online guide for councillors and councils on handling intimidation.
The guide provides councils and councillors with advice on:
- the legislation associated with intimidation
- responding to abuse, intimidation and threats when it happens
- council policies and procedures
- working with social media
- responding to intimidation on social media
- personal safety
- other sources of useful information and guidance
Standing and serving as a councillor is hugely rewarding. However, an increasing number of councillors and candidates are being subjected to abuse, threats and intimidation which undermines the principles of free speech, democratic engagement and debate.
You can explore the guide, which provides practical steps that you and your council can undertake to protect yourself as a person in a public position on the LGA website:
Councillor's guide to handling intimidation
We will continue to update the guide with the latest advice and information available.
You can follow the SHIELD principles:
- SAFEGUARD - where possible, protect yourself online and in person. For example, by making clear in any online biography or page that abusive, threatening or intimidatory behaviour will be reported, utilising security features, taking personal safety precautions and having a point of contact in the local police for any incidents
- HELP - ensure you are safe before you take further action and get help if needed. If the threat is not immediate, you can contact officers at the council or someone in your political group who have been given the responsibility to support you
- INFORM - tell the individual or group that you consider their communication or action to be intimidating, threatening or abusive. There is a growing movement of ‘digital citizenship’, which encourages the labelling of poor online conduct as a way of challenging unacceptable behaviour
- EVIDENCE - if you consider that a communication or action is intimidatory, threatening or abusive - gather evidence. For example, photos, recordings, screen-shots, letters, emails or details of witnesses
- LET PEOPLE KNOW - report the incident to the relevant person, according to the nature and severity of the incident(s). Be prepared that the police and courts will determine if the incident is intimidation based on the theoretical opinion of the average person
- DECIDE - determine whether you want to continue receiving communications from the individual or group and block or mute if on social media where appropriate. Decide if you want to pursue any action to inhibit the ability of the individual or group to approach you
For further information contact: Nathan Swain