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Cyberbullying Written Answer, 10/04/12 [S]

Written Answer given in response to Kezia Dugdale's (Lab) question asking the Scottish Executive when it last met the police to discuss trends in cyberbullying; what its position is on the adequacy of legislation regarding internet-based harassment and cyberbullying; and what additional funds have been made available to the police to counter any increase in cyberbullying.

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill, replied that online safety in Scotland is monitored by the Scottish Government led Stakeholder Group on Child Internet Safety. The group last met on 14 March 2012 and includes representation from the police. The issue of cyberbullying is discussed regularly.

There are a number of statutory offences which may be used to prosecute people who misuse the internet for harassment, including the offences of “threatening and abusive behaviour” (Section 38 of the Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010), “stalking” (section 39 of the 2010 Act) and “Improper use of public electronic communications network” (Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003). In addition to these statutory offences, the common law offences of breach of the peace and threats may be used to prosecute such behaviour. Extreme forms of internet based bullying, or “cyberbullying”, which amount to criminal behaviour could be prosecuted in the same way.

Decisions on allocating funding are a matter for individual police authorities/joint boards together in discussion with their chief constables. It will therefore be for them to decide the level of funding to be made available to address cyberbullying.

For the full answer to this and other questions see the Scottish Parliament Written Answer Report 10 April 2012 which is available from the Scottish Parliament website.

Further Information

Scottish Parliament Written Answer Report 10 April 2012