New Clause 16 - Communication offence for encouraging or assisting self-harm

Online Safety Bill – in the House of Commons at 8:30 pm on 5th December 2022.

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Votes in this debate

‘(1) In the Suicide Act 1961, after section 3 insert—

“3A Communication offence for encouraging or assisting self-harm

(1) A person (“D”) commits an offence if—

(a) D sends a message,

(b) the message encourages or could be used to assist another person (“P”) to inflict serious physical harm upon themselves, and

(c) D’s act was intended to encourage or assist the infliction of serious physical harm.

(2) The person referred to in subsection (1)(b) need not be a specific person (or class of persons) known to, or identified by, D.

(3) D may commit an offence under this section whether or not any person causes serious physical harm to themselves, or attempts to do so.

(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable—

(a) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months, or a fine, or both;

(b) on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 5 years, or a fine, or both.

(5) “Serious physical harm” means serious injury amounting to grievous bodily harm within the meaning of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861.

(6) No proceedings shall be instituted for an offence under this section except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.

(7) If D arranges for a person (“D2”) to do an Act and D2 does that Act, D is also to be treated as having done that Act for the purposes of subsection (1).

(8) In proceedings for an offence to which this section applies, it shall be a defence for D to prove that—

(a) P had expressed intention to inflict serious physical harm upon themselves prior to them receiving the message from D; and

(b) P’s intention to inflict serious physical harm upon themselves was not initiated by D; and

(c) the message was wholly motivated by compassion towards D or to promote the interests of P’s health or wellbeing.”’—(Mr Davis.)

This new clause would create a new communication offence for sending a message encouraging or assisting another person to self-harm.

Brought up, and read the First time.

Question put, That the clause be read a Second time.

Division number 107 Online Safety Bill — New Clause 16 - Communication offence for encouraging or assisting self-harm

Aye: 241 MPs

No: 308 MPs

Ayes: A-Z by last name

Tellers

Nos: A-Z by last name

Tellers

The House divided: Ayes 242, Noes 308.

Question accordingly negatived.

Proceedings interrupted (Programme Order, 20 March).

The Deputy Speaker put forthwith the Questions necessary for the disposal of the business to be concluded at that time (Standing Order No. 83E).