Glasgow councillors have told how they have been subjected to constant online abuse by trolls picking on their appearance, age and capability.

Labour Garscadden/Scotstounhill councillor Eva Murray today revealed she has been forced to reduce her online presence to try to avoid social media users who target her via Twitter and Facebook.

It comes as new figures, obtained under a Freedom of Information request from the Evening Times, shows the number of verbal and physical assaults on council staff have increased.

The figure was at its worst in 2016 when the number of incidents recorded were 4367. The number dropped to 3804 in 2017 but rose again to 4276 in 2018. So far there have been 1867 incidents in 2019.

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The nature of the complaints have been described as “violent, aggressive and challenging behaviour”. The statistics also show that there are more physical assaults on staff than verbal.

Councillor Murray, 24, said: "The problem is abusing politicians has become normalised - it is like we are fair game. During the election I became a target on social media and I have been bombarded with abuse since.

Evening Times:

“People will slag off my appearance, say I am too young to be a councillor and challenge me because I am a young woman. I am now very hesitant with what I tweet online to avoid hurtful responses.

“When I hold surgeries I have be be very cautious where I hold them. They usually take place in community centres or local schools where there are janitors or caretakers but sometimes they are busy and I still feel vulnerable.

“There was one occasion a constituent came to see me and I had to have someone in the same room as I felt uncomfortable being alone with them.

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“Sometimes I feel people come to me as their last hope and think because I’m a woman I’ll be more sympathetic but when I give them the same answer as they have already have they become aggressive towards me.”

Cllr Murray says her experiences have improved slightly following the steps she has taken.

She added has been given advice from ward colleagues, including business manager councillor Bill Butler, on how to deal with challenging constituents.

Shettleston Councillor Thomas Kerr, 22, said the week he was elected was “one of the toughest he has experienced” after he was subjected to messages from constituents saying a “flag would be stuck through his eye” and that he would be “kicked up Shettleston Road”.

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He too has had to mute his Twitter notifications to avoid seeing comments from trolls.

He said: “When I was first elected I was told I was fat, too young, had yellow teeth, that my late father would be ashamed of me and I was a traitor to my area.

“It was totally demoralising. These people are cowards behind a keyboard and can’t say this too your face.

Evening Times:

“I’ve muted my notifications on Twitter so I don’t have to witness these comments anymore and I never search my name online.

“It is a shame though because it will put other young people off getting involved in politics. We need to do something.”

Glasgow City Council has confirmed that the business manager for each group will provide advice to councillors facing this sort of behaviour.

They also said that violence against staff will not be tolerated.

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A council spokesman said: “We have a zero-tolerance policy regarding any form of abuse towards our staff.

“These officers are providing services to the people of Glasgow, and we will provide whatever support necessary to ensure that they can carry out their duties in a safe environment.”