Cheshire councillors facing online and in person harassment
By Belinda Ryan - Local Democracy Reporter
28th Nov 2023 | Local News
Councillors being threatened and harassed on social media or in person are being urged to speak directly to Cheshire's police commissioner if complaints to local officers aren't being followed up.
Police and crime commissioner John Dwyer has said he will be speaking to the chief constable about the growing problem after hearing from a councillor on Friday that political parties were finding it hard to recruit candidates to stand for election because of the intimidation public figures faced.
Warrington councillor Jane Whalen (Lab) told the meeting of the police and crime panel: "Coming up to election times we've talked about one of our challenges is finding candidates who are willing to put up for public office.
"We're finding it more and more challenging, particularly women who don't wish to put themselves into office because they seem to particularly take the burden of social media, hideous harassment, and when we try and get the local police involved, they say they don't wish to be involved in any political matters, even though some of them are quite serious."
She continued: "We have people sat outside people's houses and we have all sorts of horrific things going on in Warrington, I don't know if other areas do as well."
Cllr Whalen said social media was having a 'damaging' impact on democracy and politics and asked the police commissioner: "How do we work more closely with yourselves to deal with it?"
Mr Dwyer said it was fair to say the police would not want to get involved in anything political but sometimes individuals crossed the line.
"I need to actually have a chat with the chief constable about the force's approach and attitude towards that because we don't want to deter people from being candidates and offering themselves for public office," he said.
"It's important that we do offer it to as wide a group of people as we can.
"What I will say to you is, and… to anyone out there who feels that the police aren't taking their complaint seriously, then come to me, contact me, and I will then take it up with the chief constable directly."