The National Bullying Helpline

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Cyberbullying - eCRIME

Help and advice about bullying online

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying, or eCRIME as we call it, is any form of on-line abuse.  By this we mean simply ‘bullying using technology’ (any electronic device), as the tool with which to target someone and deliberately upset, humiliate or threaten them.  It is bullying but it is not face to face bullying, but bullying using technology.


We have been using the terminology ‘eCRIME’ for many years now because we believe it describes all forms of on-line abuse (See Types and Forums below).  Already the Police and others are adopting the term eCRIME when they talk about Cyberbullying.


We have written a separate, dedicated, website called

A website for adults and children with any form of online or technology driven antisocial behaviour referred to as cyber bullying.

Bullies are Cowards

Often, bullies using one of more of the forums named above to abuse an individual anonymously.  They are too frightened to let you know who they are or face their target.

Classic cowards. Classic bullying.

The Law

If a person is committing and act of Cyberbullying they may be committing a criminal offence under a number of different laws.


The Law is changing all the time.  Inappropriate use of technology is driving an urgent need for new, sharper, enforceable, laws.


We are campaigning currently to get all laws combined to make a stronger piece of legislation to address all forms of eCRIME.  Celebrity, Katie Price, is calling on Government to introduce a cyberbullying law to be named after her son, HARVEY.  She is calling for new eCRIME legislation to be called HARVEYS LAW.


Whilst we commend Katie for speaking out, and any campaigning is good in terms of raising awareness, we would like to see new, stronger, legislation called The eCRIME ACT.


New legislation, ie: The eCRIME ACT should embrace;

Future on-line crime including sabotage of business to business using technology, any inappropriate surveillance & the application of any nuisance App with intent to cause anxiety, distress or harm.

  • The Protection from Harassment Act
  • The Malicious Communications Act 1988
  • The Communications Act 2003
  • Obscene Publications Act 1959
  • Computer Misuse Act 1990
  • Cyberbullying in the Workplace.
  • Health and Safety and Duty of Care laws
Example of ecrime, a mobile phone showing abusive messages from a bully

Types of eCRIME and eCRIME forums

eCRIME includes;

Spreading malicious and abusive rumours and gossiping, threatening or intimidating remarks, Mobbing, Harassing someone repeatedly, Intimidation and blackmail, online grooming, setting up a false profile to target an individual, Happy Slapping, Identity fraud or identity theft, Fraud or deception over the internet and General Bullying or Stalking. The list goes on



The forums and tools used often vary and include a range of electronic devices often linked to forums or chat rooms.  The tool may be a computer or laptop, a mobile phone, a camera or recording device, a tablet or games-console or simply email or mobile text messaging.  Typically, the bullies use Social Networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and other interactive forums to target an individual or group.


Without doubt, ever-changing technology is driving the need for the introduction of new tougher, clearer, legislation to protect targets of cyberbullying.  We are already seeing changes in law linked to Cyberbullying.


More Information

If you would like to know more about the types of eCRIME and how to respond to online bullying, click the link below to our ecrime-action website.

More Information


Bullying does not discriminate, we are all potential targets. No one person is immune to Cyberbullying either. Both individuals and organisations may be susceptible to Cyberbullying which targets an individual or an organisation is Cyberbullying.


We are hearing about some very serious cases of on-line abuse associated with the workplace.  APP’S are being used to stalk a person (SPYWARE for example), or place a person under surveillance without their knowledge or consent.


eCRIME in the workplace is an increasing, very serious, problem that employers are struggling with. It is reported that bullying in the workplace costs UK employers in excess of £2bn per annum in litigation, investigation costs, lost productivity and sick pay.  We think the figure is probably higher.  So, this new anti-social behaviour on line is not helping.

There is legislation that covers areas closely associated with eCRIME and Cyberbullying. In this section we look at some of the laws that are in place to protect you.

  • The Protection From Harassment Act 1997
  • The Malicious Communications Act 1988
  • The Communications Act 2003
  • The Obscene Publications Act 1959
  • The Public Order Act 1986
  • The Computer Misuse Act 1990
  • The Health & Safety At Work Act 1974
The Protection From Harassment Act 1997

The Protection From Harassment Act 1997

Under The Protection from Harassment Act it is a criminal offence to commit an act of Cyberbullying with intent to harass another person or which the perpetrator knows, or reasonably ought to know, amounts to the harassment of another person.


6-months Imprisonment

A person found guilty of this behaviour could face imprisonment of up to 6 months, or receive a financial penalty, or both.


Up to 5 years imprisonment

Section 4 of the Act provides the potential for greater punishment to those found guilty o f causing another person to believe, on two or more occasions, that violence will be used against them. A person found guilty of this offence could face up to 5 years imprisonment.


Restraining Orders

The 1997 Act also gives Courts powers to grant Restraining Orders against those found guilty of one of the above offenses.


a perpetrator can be easily identified and the target will have evidence.  Prosecuting would be easy.

The Malicious Communications Act 1988

The Malicious Communications Act 1988

Section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 states that it is an offence for any person to send a communication that is “indecent or grossly offensive” with the intent of “causing distress or anxiety to the recipient” and this includes threats and information which is false or known or believed to be false by the sender of the communication.

6-months Imprisonment and/or £5,000 fine

A person found guilty of this behaviour could face imprisonment of up to 6 months or a fine of up to £5,000 or both.

The Communications Act 2003

The Communications Act 2003

Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 states that it is a criminal offence to send comments electronically which are deemed “grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character”.


6-months Imprisonment or a fine

If found guilty a person can receive up to 6 months imprisonment, a fine or both.

Obscene Publications Act 1959

Obscene Publications Act 1959

This is an old piece of legislation which still applies today.  It is an offence to publish an obscene article intended to deprave or corrupt persons likely to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in the article.  Publishing includes; circulating, showing, playing or projecting the article or transmitting that data.

The Public Order Act 1986

The Public Order Act 1986

Under Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 it is an offence to use threating, abusive or insulting words, behaviour, writing or any visual representation likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress within the hearing or sight of a person.  With regards to Cyberbullying, this offence could apply where a camera or video functionality now found on the vast majority of mobile phones is used as a way of causing such harassment, alarm or distress.

The Computer Misuse Act 1990

The Computer Misuse Act 1990

If, during the course of an act of eCRIME (cyberbullying) a person hacks into the victim’s online accounts or personal computer, they may be committing an offence under this piece of legislation.

The Health & Safety At Work Act 1974

The Health & Safety At Work Act 1974

Under the Health and Safety Act at Work 1974, all employers have a Duty of Care to provide employees with a safe working environment.  If an employee can prove they are a target of eCRIME in the workplace, by colleagues using Company technology (computers, mobiles etc)., the employer may be in breach of their duty to protect employees under The Health & Safety at Work Act.


In such a case (described above) an employee is advised to raise a formal complaint ie: a Stage 1 Grievance.  Refer to the Company Harassment and Grievance Policies and trigger the formal process.

The National Bullying Helpline try and provide FREE, confidential, unconditional, help and advice.

We will give you option and choice and we will not record your call.

Whilst we do everything we can to help our callers, occasionally there are circumstances where we are unable to help due to limited resources and expertise.  You may need to seek advice from a specialise expert.


It is our Policy not to get involved in a dispute you may be having with; • The Police • The Courts or Legal System • Your GP or the NHS • Local Authority. In those cases we recommend you seek advice from your local MP or a Solicitor.

Call us if you need further advice or go to

How to donate to the National Bullying Helpline


As a voluntary run organisation, we operate with limited resources and funds. All donations are gratefully received and 100% of every donation goes in to the running of our free helpline and website. By donating as little as a £1, you are ensuring a dedicated helpline is there when someone is reaching out for help.

The National Bullying Helpline is a member of NCVO Member ID: MEMBERVC/17761

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