A photograph of Labour MP Jo Cox among flowers left in tribute to her in Birstall, last June [Image: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images].

It seems fears for their lives, expressed by certain MPs after the tragic murder of their colleague Jo Cox last year, were premature, to judge from the list of alleged crimes against them between August 2016 and February this year.

Of the 50 crimes mentioned in the Guardian report (quoted below), no less than 33 were “malicious communications” including Twitter trolling – basically, people using the social media to express hatred and perhaps a desire to harm an MP.

It’s highly unpleasant, and the victims were right to report these incidents to the police, but This Writer isn’t convinced they are evidence of any serious threat to life and limb.

Thomas Mair didn’t give any prior warning before he attacked Mrs Cox, remember.

The other crimes include 13 reported thefts – offences against property, not against the person, and no mention is made of any clear intent, by the thieves, to cause physical injury to an MP.

And there were four allegations of criminal damage – again, not evidence of intent to harm anybody physically, unless the damage was done to something that was near an MP at the time. Again, we have no evidence.

So was the £640,000 spent improving MPs’ security money for old rope, as This Writer suggested at the time?

In fairness, we have no evidence to prove that, either, although I stand by the words I wrote about one MP who announced the installation of a panic room for no very good reason.

It would be useful to know how many prosecutions have been brought, and whether it can be proved that anybody who was brought to justice had harboured harmful intentions – beyond merely causing upset.

Apart from that, it seems the murder of Mrs Cox was an isolated incident in extraordinary circumstances.

Let us hope the future offers us no reason to revise that opinion.

While we all have reason to despise many of our MPs, nobody – no matter how vile and verminous – deserves to be harmed or killed, simply for being a public representative.

A specialist police squad set up in the wake of the murder of Jo Cox to investigate crimes against MPs has dealt with more than 50 complaints in its first six months.

Abusive messages and harassment, as well as 13 reports of theft and four allegations of criminal damage, were reported by MPs to the unit between August 2016 and early February. The Metropolitan police’s parliamentary liaison and investigations team received 33 reports of malicious communications during the six months, including Twitter trolling.

The figures, obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, come amid mounting concern that MPs are facing unprecedented levels of abuse online.

MPs spent nearly £640,000 last year on bolstering security for them and their staff following Cox’s murder. The Labour MP was shot and stabbed by neo-Nazi Thomas Mair on 16 June in her West Yorkshire constituency, a week before the EU referendum.

Labour MP Rachael Maskell was targeted following her colleague’s murder when far-right trolls mailed her a picture of a body with a severed head.

Source: Police reveal extent of crimes against MPs since Jo Cox murder | UK news | The Guardian

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