David Amess: MPs to be offered ‘trained and accredited’ guards at constituency surgeries

‘Choice of whether or not to hold a physical surgery is an entirely personal one based on our individual situations,’ letter to MPs says

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Friday 22 October 2021 17:30
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<p>MPs gather to pay tribute to Sir David Amess </p>

MPs gather to pay tribute to Sir David Amess

MPs are set to be offered “trained and accredited” guards at constituency surgeries in order to bolster security in the wake of the killing of Sir David Amess last week.

It comes after a man was charged with the murder of the Conservative MP, who was stabbed while holding a surgery at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex – renewing concerns over the security of MPs.

Earlier this week Priti Patel, the home secretary, said the threat facing members had been elevated to “substantial” after a review of intelligence by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre linked to MI5.

While it did not find any “specific or imminent threat” to MPs’ safety, the cabinet minister insisted that counterterror police will ensure the “change is properly reflected in the operational posture”.

In a joint letter to MPs this week, Ms Patel and the Commons speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, warned that their safety is at risk from a “small minority of hostile individuals”.

The correspondence, first reported by The Times, acknowledges members will be “rightly concerned about their own safety and security, and that of their staff”.

“The work you carry out can put you at odds with a wide range of ideologies and views and a small minority of hostile individuals may be motivated by grievances which are difficult to detect and whose actions are hard to predict”.

They added a “trained and accredited security operative will be available to come to your constituency surgeries”. Equipment such as panic buttons in offices and fob-style emergency alarms have already been made available to MPs.

After some MPs suggested stopping face-to-face meetings while the security review was conducted by officials, the letter told politicians: “The choice of whether or not to hold a physical surgery is an entirely personal one based on our individual situations.

“Thee is no suggestion there being a right or wrong way to hold surgeries; the priority is for you to hold a safe surgery, if you choose to hold one”.

“As MPs, we must have in mind not just our responsibility to ourselves and our families to follow security best practice but also our duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of our staff and our constituents,” it added.

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