Intimidation in Public Life: progress report on recommendations


Intimidation in Public Life: a progress report, three years on

The Committee on Standards in Public Life has published a progress report on recommendations it made three years ago today to address intimidation in public life.

Lord Evans, Chair of the Committee, said:

In 2017 we made a number of recommendations for government, social media companies, Parliament, the police, political parties and others to tackle intimidation in public life. Since then, the Committee has been monitoring developments and is pleased to see that there has been progress in a number of areas.

We are especially pleased to see social media companies doing more to protect users from intimidation online, though there remains more to do and at a greater pace. We were pleased that Twitter, Facebook and Google set up temporary election teams in 2019 to respond quickly to potential threats and challenges, including intimidation. We remain disappointed that these companies have not yet revised their tools that enable users to escalate potential illegal content online to the police.

It is a significant step forward that all of the political parties in Westminster now have in place Codes of Conduct that explicitly prohibit bullying, harassment and unlawful discrimination and that a number of political parties have now signed the joint statement of conduct against intimidation. The joint statement, on which we have worked closely with The Jo Cox Foundation, is a high-level statement of principle outlining the minimum standards of behaviour that all members of political parties should aspire to.

The Committee will never forget some of the personal stories they heard about the abuse and intimidation individuals and their families have suffered, simply because they are involved in public life. The murder of Jo Cox MP was the most terrible example of what can happen at the extreme, if intimidatory behaviour is not addressed.

We already know intimidation puts good people off taking part in public life, particularly women and those from ethnic minority backgrounds. That is something we should all care deeply about, whatever party we choose to vote for. Intimidation and abuse have no place in a healthy democracy.

View progress report.

Watch video about the work of the Committee.

Notes to Editors

  1. Interview requests and media enquiries should go to Maggie O’Boyle on 07880 740627.

  2. The independent Committee on Standards in Public Life advises the Prime Minister on ethical standards across the whole of public life in the UK. It monitors and reports on issues relating to the standards of conduct of all public office holders. To find out more about the Committee’s work click here.

  3. The current members of the Committee are: Lord (Jonathan) Evans KCB DL, Chairman, Rt Hon Dame Margaret Beckett DBE MP (Labour),Dr Jane Martin CBE, Dame Shirley Pearce DBE, Monisha Shah and Rt Hon Lord (Andrew) Stunell OBE (Liberal Democrat) and Rt Hon Jeremy Wright QC MP (Conservative).

  4. The Committee is currently conducting a review of electoral regulation, on the way donations and campaign expenditure by candidates, political parties and non-party campaigners in election and referendum campaigns are regulated and enforced by the Electoral Commission, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Police. It is due to report on electoral regulation by June 2021.

  5. The Committee is also carrying out a landscape review of the institutions, processes and structures in place to support high standards of conduct. The Committee is running a public consultation and a public sector survey until 29 January 2021 as part of this review.

  6. You can follow the Committee on twitter @PublicStandards.


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