Bullying and the law

No matter how bad bullying can seem, many incidents of bullying are not actually crimes, and therefore might not be a matter for the police. The best people to deal with them are parents, teachers or other responsible adults.

But some types of bullying are illegal and should be reported to us. This includes bullying that involves:

  • harassment and intimidation over a period of time including calling someone names or threatening them, making abusive phone calls, and sending abusive emails or texts (one incident is not normally enough to get a conviction)
  • anything involving hate crimes (you can find out more about hate crimes here)

Most schools in London have an assigned Safer Schools Officer whose job includes helping teachers prevent bullying in their schools. If you want to talk to someone about bullying and don't feel you can speak to your teacher contact your Safer Schools Officer.

You can find out who they are and how to contact them here.


Can the police come into school or college and arrest bullies?

In practise, this doesn't usually happen. That's because most schools have got measures in place to tackle bullying early and, by working together, pupils, teachers and parents are in a much better position than the police to prevent it.

But what if the bullying is serious, perhaps involving physical assault?

In some circumstances, the police do get called in, usually by the school. It's generally a last resort or because something very serious has happened.

If a young person is continually getting involved in bullying behaviour including violence, theft or harassment, it may lead to them being given an Anti Social Behaviour Order (ASBO). Find out more about anti-social behaviour here.

Anyone - a teacher, parent or pupil - can make a complaint about bullying to the police if they feel it's serious. But, in most cases, we recommend you try talking to your teachers or another responsible adult first.

If you have been a victim of bullying or if you know someone who has been, there's plenty of help and support available. Visit our page ‘More help and advice’.