Incidents of violence towards public figures is rare, however, councillors have high profile public roles, are constantly interacting with members of the community and can be the victims of verbal or written abuse. They may experience harassment and stalking and online abuse.
It is important therefore that councillors understand the steps they should take to keep themselves safe. This page for members will signpost you to resources that can help and outline some of the measures that can be taken to reduce risk and ensure safety.
Members should seek guidance from their corporate health and safety advisors or Heads of Democratic Services about the specific guidance in place locally and be mindful of the risks when for example:
- Visiting people in their homes
- Receiving callers to your home
- Holding surgeries
- Travelling, whether on public or private transport and when alone
- Communicating online
If, as a member, you have a specific concern or you feel you are at risk, speak to your corporate health and safety advisor, Head of Democratic Services or Monitoring Officer. You may be able to access relevant training or safety or security equipment to help protect you in your role.
- Personal Safety Guidance for Councillors: The Local Government Information Unit LGIU has published guidance specifically for members covering what to do in these situations. For more comprehensive guidance, view link here
- Personal Safety Advice: There is also a range of excellent online advice available from the Susie Lamplugh Trust which covers for example canvassing and campaigning, dealing with aggression, stalking, lone working, personal alarms, hate crime and internet safety
- Online Abuse Guidance for Councillors: The WLGA has published guidance for dealing with online abuse
- Get Safe Online guidance: More information on online safety is available from the government supported website, Get Safe Online. This covers everything from protecting your devices to social networking to information security
- Recognising the Terrorist Threat Guidance: The national counter terrorism security office has useful information about dealing with suspect packages and knowing what to do in the event of terrorist threats
If you are in any doubt about the actions you should take to ensure your personal safety speak to your corporate health and safety advisor or Head of Democratic Services for support.
For more information contact: WLGA Improvement Team