What Does the Law Say?

  • Bullying is...

    when someone intentionally hurts, controls, threatens or frightens a person or several people, repeatedly over a period of time.

    It is important to note that bullying is deliberate and repeated. A one-off incident cannot be described as bullying.



  • Bullying is not specifically a criminal offence, however depending on the severity some types of bullying behaviours are against the law.

  • If someone verbally bullies another person…

    …causing harassment, alarm, or distress due to the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour it could result in a sentence of 6 months imprisonment and / or a fine.

  • If someone physically bullies another person…

    depending on the severity it can be classed as a minor or more serious assault:

    1. Common assault (reddening of the skin) can result in 6 months imprisonment and / or a fine.
    2. Actual bodily harm (e.g. broken nose, black eye/bruises) can result from 6 months up to 5 years imprisonment and / or fine.
    3. Grievous bodily harm (e.g. wounding/use of a weapon) can result in a sentence of up to life imprisonment.
  • If someone bullies another person and takes their property or damages it…

    this could be defined as:

    1. theft, stealing other people’s belongings, which can result in 6 months to 7 years imprisonment and / or a fine
    2. robbery, stealing other people’s belongings using threats or force, resulting in a sentence
      of up to life imprisonment
    3. criminal damage, destruction or damage to property whether intentionally or recklessly.
  • Cyber-

    someone hurts, threatens or frightens you regularly, by sending messages or images using the Internet, mobile phones or other forms of digital communication.

  • If someone cyberbullies another person…

    some cyberbullying activities could be criminal offences.

    If a person sends letters / messages with the intent of causing distress or anxiety this could result in up to 6 months imprisonment and / or a fine.

  • In addition, if any of these methods of bullying are utilised as part of…

    an incident, which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate in regards of race, sexual orientation, faith, disability, etc. the incident can become a Hate Crime Incident.

    This could result in additional penalties of up to 6 months dependent on the discretion of the magistrate or if it is considered aggravated the case can be tried in crown court and could result in a maximum sentence of 10 years.