An MP who received rape threats on Twitter described getting the police and Crown Prosecution Service to investigate online harassment as an “up-hill battle”.

She received rape threats after backing feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez’s bid to get a woman on a Bank of England note after Elizabeth Fry was replaced with Winston Churchill.

And speaking in Watford ahead of the police and crime commissioner elections next week, the Walthamstow MP pointed towards work done by Northumbria PCC Vera Baird who "prioritised tackling violence against women”.

It was stalking awareness week last week and a report stated that more than 50 per cent of stalking cases now involve online harassment.

During a campaign meeting, Ms Creasy told the Watford Observer: “Trying to get the police and CPS to recognise the risk people are under is an up-hill battle.

“It is the same as offline stalking. If someone sends you flowers when you have told them to stop, that is an aggressive act. It is the same as if you are on my Facebook page writing things when I have told you to stop, you are telling me you are controlling me.

“It is about understanding the risk and getting police and appropriate support services, whether that is housing, social services to protect someone, and the victim first.

“There is a real uphill struggle on this. It is not online vs offline. It is about the person who is harassing someone.”

Ms Creasy also said Twitter trolls are trying to close down debate.

She said: “It is an issue about freedom of speech. I’m a big advocate of freedom of speech. But you can’t have freedom of speech if 50 per cent of the population are living in fear of their lives.

“And yet people who shout and scream and threaten people online are just the same as people who shout and scream and threaten people in real life. They are trying to close down the debate.”

During the wide-ranging interview, Ms Creasy also said she hoped more women would reach leadership positions in public organisations.

She added: “What the challenge tells us is, we’re not drawing on the full potential of this country because you can’t tell me that out of the 51 per cent of the population, there is only a minority of people capable of leading things.

“I think the challenge is encouraging women to stand and to not suggest it is up to women alone to address that balance.”

And the Walthamstow MP also believes community engagement is vital in helping shape police responses to issues of crime and justice.