Hampshire County Councillors vote to tackle abuse and intimidation in politics

Hampshire County Council has today joined councils across the country in supporting the Local Government Association's (LGA) Debate Not Hate campaign - which aims to address the growth in abuse received by local councillors

May 23 2024

At the Local Authority’s AGM on Thursday 23 May, County Councillors voted unanimously to support a Motion to sign up to the campaign and challenge the normalisation of abusive and aggressive behaviours against councillors, officers and contractors delivering public services for Hampshire residents.

With 7 in 10 councillors nationally experiencing abuse or intimidation in the last year according to the LGA's 2022 councillor census, the body has been working for some time to build a better understanding of the issue of abuse, intimidation and aggression directed at elected members and what individuals, local organisations and national government can do to reverse this trend. With growing reports of such abuse, as well as extreme incidents like the murder of Jo Cox MP and Sir David Amess MP, the LGA’s ‘Debate Not Hate’ campaign aims to raise public awareness of the role of councillors in their communities, encourage healthy debate and respectful challenge, and improve the responses and support for local politicians facing abuse and intimidation.

Commenting, Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Nick Adams-King said: “Councillors and other local politicians, regardless of their background or political affiliation should feel safe carrying out the role they were elected to fulfil and proud to represent their communities. Across the country, we are seeing increasing levels of abuse and intimidation aimed at local politicians, making councillors feel vulnerable in their own homes and local areas. This also prevents elected members from representing the communities they serve, deters people from standing for election, and undermines public trust in democratic processes.

“Hampshire County Council takes a zero-tolerance approach to any form of language that compromises the safety and wellbeing of elected members and staff. As part of our stance on this important issue, I will be writing to the Minister for Local Government to ask for changes to legislation so that the home addresses of councillors are not published as a matter of course. This will help to address some of the concerns about councillor safety, putting councillors on a par with members of parliament.”

The Local Authority has also committed to work closely with the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Police and Crime Commissioner to ensure there is a clear and joined-up mechanism for reporting threats and other concerns about the safety of councillors and their families.