Hundreds of spam, abuse emails to Harrogate council blocked

More than 300 emails have been blocked in the last three months because they contain banned words or spam.
More than 300 emails have been blocked in the last three months because they contain banned words or spam.

Hundreds of emails to Harrogate council's staff and councillors are being blocked as a result of filters designed to protect council employees from potential abuse and spam.

Hundreds of emails to Harrogate council's staff and councillors are being blocked as a result of filters designed to protect council employees from potential abuse and spam.

A freedom of information request revealed there have been 337 emails blocked by the authority for 'language' reasons over the last three months.

A council spokesperson acknowledged that discussing issues with the council can be an "emotive" subject, but said the vast majority of residents contacting the authority were civil.

“We know that speaking to the council can sometimes be an emotive subject," the spokesperson said.

"But our staff, who handle these face-to-face, email or telephone conversations, deserve to be spoken to in the same way that they speak to the customer.

"Thankfully, we receive very few genuine abusive emails or calls, as many are spam, and I’d like to say thank you to our customers for speaking to us in a polite and friendly manner.”

The council confirmed that it has not referred any correspondence to staff to the police, and are not aware of any correspondence to councillors that has been.

The authority only stores data for three months at a time to manage its database size, with emails automatically blocked if they contain words that are included on the council's spam and profanity filters.

A spam email is typically an unsolicited messages sent over the Internet, usually to a large number of users, for the purposes of advertising or spreading computer viruses.

The authority declined to answer freedom of information questions relating to the content of their list of banned or censored words, stating that the release of that information could make it easier to circumvent the council's filters, thus opening it up to virus or cyber attacks on their computer systems.

Similar freedom of information requests to other councils across the United Kingdom have received mixed responses - with some authorities choosing to release their list of banned words, and others stating the release of information could potentially be harmful.

Lachlan Leeming, Local Democracy Reporter