APPG on Domestic Violence launches new report on tackling online abuse

Tuesday 28th February 2017

“The world has moved on from the age of poison pen letters – so should the law”

Professor David Ormerod QC, Law Commissioner for Criminal Law

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Domestic Violence, chaired by Jess Phillips MP and Maria Miller MP, has launched a new recommendations report on responding to online abuse. The report, ‘Tackling domestic abuse in a digital age’, was compiled by the national domestic abuse charity Women’s Aid.

Key recommendations from the report are:

  1. Online abuse must be recognised by the Government, judiciary and all relevant agencies as a harmful form of domestic abuse and violence against women and girls
  2. Review the legal framework that deals with online abuse to ensure it provides equal protection between the online and offline worlds
  3. The use of online technology to abuse must be barred through criminal and civil proceedings (in the same way as these behaviours are prohibited in the ‘offline’ world)
  4. Improvements in the consistency of how online providers prevent, prohibit, and respond to online abuse are required
  5. Police must be given relevant tools, training and expertise to deliver an effective response to online abuse
  6. Secure a long-term funding model to guarantee future of specialist services that support survivors of online abuse
  7. Prevention must be the cornerstone of the response. Statutory sex and relationships education, covering online abuse and healthy relationships, must be introduced

Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said:

“Online abuse can be as harmful and debilitating as abuse perpetrated in person. It is time that we stop treating online abuse as ‘other’, and instead address the reality: that it is a real form of abuse, and it works in conjunction with other forms of abuse to further remove a victim’s liberty and space for action. A robust strategy for tackling it is essential – as is awareness of its impact. We want tech companies to think carefully about the ways their products could be used to perpetrate abuse right at the beginning of the design process. We call for a dedicated online abuse strategy to be a central tenet of the Prime Minister’s plans for the forthcoming Domestic Violence and Abuse Bill.”

Jess Phillips MP, Chair of APPG on Domestic Violence, said:

“Online abuse is a pervasive and devastating crime. The online world gives perpetrators of domestic abuse more ways to abuse – be that sending threats on social media or perpetrating ‘revenge porn’. It’s time that the legislation reflected the reality of abuse in 2017, and that online abuse is recognised as being an integral part of patterns of abuse. It is not a ‘separate’ issue – it is part and parcel of violence against women.”

Maria Miller MP, Vice Chair of APPG on Domestic Violence, said:

“Despite welcome changes in the response to online abuse, such as the new offence of ‘revenge pornography’, it is clear that we still do not have parity between the online and offline worlds for domestic abuse and violence against women and girls. We are calling for a review of the legislation to ensure that the abusive behaviours prohibited in the ‘real world’ are robustly sanctioned when they are perpetrated online too. As our society becomes more digital, we must be clear that the online world is part of the real world too; it is disingenuous to suggest otherwise. Victims of online abuse must also be able to access equal protection as those who suffers other forms of abuse – so it is imperative that the Government grants anonymity to victims of ‘revenge porn’ as a matter of urgency.”

Download ‘Tackling domestic abuse in the digital age’ here. For more information, please contact our press office.




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