ALMOST 800 complaints about abuse involving social networking sites were received by Lancashire Police in three years.

It comes as a national debate has been sparked following allegations made by ex-England footballer Stan Collymore that he was racially abused on Twitter.

He has accused the site’s bosses of not doing enough to combat so-called cyber trolls.

Police in Lancashire revealed, after a request made under the Freedom of Information Act, that 792 crimes involving Twitter, Facebook, Bebo and Myspace were reported to them between April 2010 and July 2013.

Among those, 335 offences involved threatening, harassing or bullying behaviour, including threats to kill, blackmail, threats to commit criminal damage and causing public fear alarm or distress.

Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson said he had been a victim of online abuse, although he had not reported it to police. He said: “People say all sorts of things, unrepeatable things.

“In a position like mine, you expect robust criticism and comment on social forums. Sometimes it has crossed the line.

“I have operated a policy of when somebody makes an outright racist comment, I defriend them or block them.

“There are many individuals out there, particularly young people, who can take abuse and things said on social media very, very seriously and abusers can use social media as a way of getting to victims in their own homes.”

Hyndburn and Haslingden MP Graham Jones, who writes a blog and uses Twitter to interact with constituents, said the government needed to ‘come down hard’ on online abusers.

He said: “There are people out there who think they have a right to be offensive and they do not.

“If it was down to me, I would take a very hard line on these people. It is about time they were prosecuted.

“If I get the opportunity to speak out about trolls and keyboard warriors, I will. These people have serious personal issues.”

He suggested the use of fixed penalty notices to tackle the problem.

Nobody from Lancashire Police was available to comment yesterday.