This petition was submitted during the 2017–2019 Conservative government

Petition Make Bullying a Criminal Offence

Bullying ruins the life of victims. Sadly, it is a daily occurrence for some schoolchildren and is sometimes so severe that victims self-harm, lose out on schooling, or even like my son Brandon take their own life.

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The police in my son's case refused to investigate as my son was not attending school. This cannot be right. I call upon the Government to urgently produce guidelines for the investigation of and prosecution of offences which arise out of bullying and to plug the gaps in the law where the victim has been harmed due to bullying, which is not recognised as an offence. Without penalties being imposed there is no guarantee that others won't be hurt.' 

This petition is closed This petition ran for 6 months

13,016 signatures

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Government responded

This response was given on 3 January 2018

Laws are already in place to protect people when bullying behaviour constitutes a criminal offence. The government does not plan to introduce additional legislation for bullying behaviour.

Read the response in full

The Government strongly believes that bullying can blight the lives of young people. Tragic cases such as Brandon’s death highlight the need to do all we can to prevent it and tackle every instance where it arises.

That is why we have sent a clear message to schools that bullying, for whatever reason, is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

Most bullying can be dealt with within schools’ existing disciplinary frameworks. We are making Relationships Education in primary schools, and Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) in secondary schools mandatory, and we expect the associated guidance to cover issues such as respect, friendships, cyber-bullying and staying safe online. We have recently launched a call for evidence to gather the views of teachers, parents, and young people to help us shape relationships education and RSE.

Laws are already in place to protect people when any form of bullying behaviour constitutes a criminal offence. This includes some types of harassing or threatening behaviour, or communications which can be a criminal offence, for example under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, the Malicious Communications Act 1988, the Communications Act 2003, and the Public Order Act 1986.

If school staff, or parents, feel that a criminal offence may have been committed they should seek assistance from the police. This would be the case regardless of whether or not a young person was attending school. Therefore, we do not believe there are gaps in existing laws or processes regarding how bullying behaviour which constitutes a criminal offence should be handled.

It is for the police to decide whether to investigate or prosecute. Police forces are operationally independent of Government and it is their chief officers who determine the resources allocated to particular priorities. This is in line with the Policing and Crime Plans, published by Police and Crime Commissioners, to whom chief officers are accountable. Guidance on the way that suspected offences are investigated is produced by the College of Policing, the professional body for policing.

For this reason, the Government has no current plans to introduce any additional legislation in relation to criminalising bullying behaviour.

Department for Education

Other parliamentary business

MPs ask Government for a clearer response to petition on making bullying a criminal offence

The Government’s response to this petition has changed. This change was made on Thursday 8 February 2018.

This is because the Petitions Committee (the group of MPs who oversee the petitions system) did not think that the Government’s first response was satisfactory.

Firstly, the response did not acknowledge the loss of the petition creator’s son, Brandon.

Secondly, the response did not address the specific point made by the petition about gaps in the current law and processes for dealing with bullying, especially when a child is not attending school.

The Committee wrote to the Government to ask for a new response which answered the petition more clearly.

We’ve now received a new response, which has been published. You can read it here:

You can read a letter from the Government Minister responsible here: