Abuse and intimidation

Being a councillor is one of the most unique and rewarding roles you can have. 

I’m sure many people reading this can think of a moment when they have had a positive influence on the area they are privileged to represent. 

Whether it be making a small improvement to a local park to influencing the future direction of your community, councillors are vital to the fabric of our society.

However, we know that sadly instances of abuse and harassment directed at councillors are on the rise. 

Last year, an LGA survey found that eight in 10 councillors had experienced abuse or intimidation in 2023, up 10 per cent from the year before. More than half (54 per cent) of long-standing councillors had seen abuse increase since they were first elected, with 31 per cent seeing a sharp increase. 

Some of this abuse may be low level; occasional unpleasant messages on social media or rude emails. 

There are, though, an alarming number of councillors who have received abuse, harassment or stalking so severe that they have had no choice but to involve the police. 

It is profoundly disturbing to hear of councillors being harassed and intimidated while doing their job. It should not become the norm that councillors need to install CCTV and panic alarms in their houses to feel safe while fulfilling their democratic duty.

The LGA is clear that this abuse and intimidation is unacceptable, poses a risk to our democracy and without concerted action risks driving good people out of local government entirely. 

This is why we have been working hard since 2019 to highlight the rising risk that abuse of councillors represents to our local democracy and what is needed to tackle this complex issue. 

This has included engaging with the Home Office and the National Police Chiefs’ Council to improve the protection offered to councillors, and securing amendments to the Online Safety Bill. 

We have also been supporting councillors through our Civility in Public Life programme and Debate Not Hate campaign. 

We’ve provided a range of support for people experiencing abuse, including providing a safer canvassing guide, a guide to handling abuse, a safety training offer and a campaign toolkit for councils and councillors. 

However, more can be done to address this growing issue. 

Councillors, unlike MPs, are still required to publish their home address in their declaration of interests unless they are given permission from their council’s monitoring officer not to do so. This has led to members of the public turning up unannounced at councillors’ homes. 

We believe this can lead to a councillor’s personal safety being compromised, leaving them and their families feeling distressed and vulnerable. 

We are urging the Government to introduce legislation as soon as possible that would mean councillors’ home addresses are not generally published. 

We think this simple, practical step would go a long way in protecting councillors and their families from unnecessary abuse and intimidation.

Being a councillor is a fantastic role, but we cannot allow talented people to leave because of rising levels of abuse. 

Anyone, regardless of their background or political affiliation, should feel safe to become a councillor and be proud to represent their community. 

We must end abuse in public life and encourage healthy debate if we are to safeguard the future of our local democracy.

A template letter for writing to your local MP and/or relevant minister about our call to end the publication of councillors’ home addresses is available by emailing [email protected]. More details about the LGA’s support offer and our Debate Not Hate campaign toolkit can be found at www.local.gov.uk/debate-not-hate


More support needed for vulnerable households

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