Scots Parliament to spend £125k tackling online security as MSPs targeted with 500 abusive comments

The Scottish Parliament
The Scottish Parliament -Credit:Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Holyrood will spend £125,000 beefing up online security for MSPs after hundreds of abusive posts were reported to police.

Over 7,500 instances of non-criminal abuse were also flagged during a trial to keep parliamentarians safe.

SNP MSPs received by far the most abusive comments, according to data supplied by the Parliament.

The Scottish Parliament has taken various steps following the murder of MPs Jo Cox and Sir David Amess.

One was an opt-in service for MSPs which used monitoring software searches to provide early notice of potential online threats.

In an email, Holyrood Director of Operations and Digital Lynsey Hamill said 38 MSPs took part and the findings were "sobering".

She said “racial and religious abuse” is a “distinct trend” and “belittling” posts towards women were also evident.

According to the email, 461 online comments reached a criminal threshold and were escalated to Police Scotland, while 7,661 did not.

A party breakdown showed 592 comments were directed at Tory MSPs, 501 at Greens, 282 at Labour, 114 at Lib Dems and 6,621 at SNP members.

Hamill said: “Making the social media monitoring service permanent will enable Security Office to dovetail its physical and online work, bringing a holistic approach to Members’ safety and security.

“This represents an investment of £125,000 per annum, covering two Information Security Analysts and software licences.”

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