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Online Antisocial Behaviour

Volume 577: debated on Thursday 13 March 2014

9. What recent discussions she has had with social media companies on tackling online antisocial behaviour. (903023)

I chaired a meeting with social media companies on 13 February to discuss measures to protect people when they are online. We confirmed our position that social media companies should respond quickly to incidents of abusive behaviour on their networks and ensure that they have measures to protect users. We intend to continue to work with industry on those issues.

We have continually called on the Government to introduce legislation to deal with the epidemic of cyber-bullying that we are witnessing, so why do they not make it an offence in its own right?

Working with social media companies in a flexible, responsive way is the best way forward. We have covered a whole range of issues, including age and identity verification, the reporting of abuse, adjudication, auditing, filtering and funding; we can cover all of those comprehensively and flexibly through dialogue.

Adam Simmonds, the police and crime commissioner for Northamptonshire, is determined to tackle online crime, and particularly the issue of child victims. He set up a child exploitation prevention team, which is a national lead pilot. Will the Minister work with colleagues in the Home Office to ensure that Government funding for such pilots can be directed at local police forces, and not just at regional or national crime agencies?

I will certainly bring my hon. Friend’s concerns to the attention of the Minister for Policing, Criminal Justice and Victims; in fact, this afternoon, he and I will chair the UK Council for Child Internet Safety, which brings together a range of stakeholders to talk about these issues.