Threats against MSPs to be monitored under new safeguarding service

The service will be introduced from April next year.

Threats against MSPs to be monitored under new safeguarding service STV News

Threats made against MSPs could be intercepted under a new service being introduced in the wake of the murder of a Conservative MP.

Safeguarding measures are being stepped up following the murder of Sir David Amess at his Essex constituency surgery.

An opt-in social media monitoring service will be trialled for a two-year period and is expected to go live from April 1 next year.

The Scottish Parliament will recruit an information security analyst to help with setting up the scheme.

They will use the platform to scan for threats, as well as creating daily reports and highlighting any potential concerns.

Amess was stabbed multiple times during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in October last year.

His murder came just five years after that of the Labour MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed to death in the Yorkshire village of Birstall in 2016.

Both incidents sparked calls for a crackdown on online threats made towards politicians.

MSPs were notified of the new service being implemented by the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body (SPCB) on Friday.

A spokesperson for the parliamentary body explained that any issues highlighted under the service would be escalated to Police Scotland.

“The SPCB is acutely aware of the rising level of online abuse and intimidation towards representatives,” they said.

“From April 2023, we will be trialling an in-house service that will identify key words and potentially threatening language relating to MSPs on social media platforms.

“Members will expressly have to opt into the service which would operate on their behalf.

“Any issues of concern picked up by the service would be escalated to Police Scotland as appropriate.”