MEMBERS of the public are not only abusing and harassing councillors but are also trying to find out home addresses of council officers, Cheshire’s police boss was told.

Concerns about the safety of councillors and MPs were raised once again at today’s (Friday) meeting of the Cheshire Police and Crime Panel.

Cllr Mo Hussain (Warrington BC, Lab) told police and crime commissioner John Dwyer there was increasing concern about the safety of councillors.

Northwich Guardian: Cllr Mo HussainCllr Mo Hussain (Image: Warrington Borough Council)“There's lots of online and social media abuse that can lead to all sorts of things,” said Cllr Hussain.

“When these things are reported to the police, police are very sympathetic but there's not a lot they can do.

“Their hands are tied a lot of the time because one of the comments they would make, is that once you sign up to this sort of role, you expect to get this sort of thing and not much action is taken.”

Cllr Norman Plumpton Walsh (Halton BC, Lab) said he had recently been followed down the street by a member of the public who ‘verbally abused me and threatened me with all sorts’.

Northwich Guardian: Cllr Norman Plumpton WalshCllr Norman Plumpton Walsh (Image: Halton Borough Council)

“People say that we’re fair game, apparently, for abuse for coming into this role. I certainly didn't sign up for this,” he said.

Cllr Wendy Maisey (Warrington BC, Con) said: “I've had a stalking  protection order put in place, I still have a restraining order in place for a member of the public who actually ended up with a six-month custodial sentence.”

Northwich Guardian: Cllr Wendy MaiseyCllr Wendy Maisey (Image: Warrington Borough Council)

She described social media as a ‘cesspit’ and urged councillors to be aware of their own behaviour and what they were posting during the election campaign.

Northwich Guardian: Cllr Judy SmowballCllr Judy Smowball (Image: Cheshire East Council)

Cllr Judy Snowball (Cheshire East, Lab) said: “In social media recently, I've had cause to ask that certain posts be removed, which invite the public to name officers, for instance of the council, and find out their registration plates or their addresses, which was quite shocking to me.“

She said: “I don't believe the person seemed to understand what they were doing or what they were inciting.”

Mr Dwyer said Cheshire Police takes this very seriously and is currently drawing up a protocol ‘which will allow the police to understand what they're supposed to be doing with these complaints being made by councillors'.