The Home Secretary said police must “close any gaps” in security arrangements after violent death of Southend West MP
Cops could be asked to guard MPs at their weekly face-to-face constituency surgeries in the wake of Sir David Amess’ murder, Home Secretary Priti Patel has said.
The Cabinet Minister said “we need to close any gaps” in the safety arrangements for MPs following the Conservative backbencher’s killing.
“We should, rightly, our elected representatives need to be able to go around with confidence – with confidence that they are safe and secure in the work they are doing,” she told the Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme on Sky News.
Outlining practical measures MPs could take, she highlighted “booking appointments in advance, checking the details of the individuals that you are seeing, checking the locations in advance that you are going to, making sure that you are not on your own”.
Ms Patel said there were “other things, linked to policing and security as well”.
Asked if MPs could receive the level of protection they receive in Westminster she said: “All these issues and options are in consideration right now.”
Sir David was stabbed multiple times while at a constituency surgery at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, in Essex, on Friday.
Ali Harbi Ali, 25, has been arrested on suspicion of murder and terrorist cops are leading the investigation.
Ms Patel has asked police forces to review security for MPs. Sir David is the second MP to be killed in recent years after Jo Cox was killed in 2016.
Ms Patel said while MPs “have all changed our ways of working because of changing concerns, threats in society”.
“This should never ever break that link between an elected representative and their democratic role, responsibility and duty to the people who elected them,” she said.
Shadow Foreign Secretary Lisa Nandy admitted she did not feel safe carrying out constituency duties.
Andrew Parsons / No10 Downing Street)
Asked whether she felt safe doing her job in her constituency, the Labour MP for Wigan told BBC1’s The Andrew Marr Show: “No, not really if I’m honest.”
But she added: “MPs are well known in our constituencies, people tend to know where we live, we are out and about, we’re normal human beings, we go out and about on the weekends and go to the local shops. I’m not sure that we can ever eliminate the risk but there are other things that can be done to reduce the risk.”
She said ”ensuring that anyone who wants or needs security at surgeries is a good idea – not least because people often know, even if we don’t advertise them, that they are happening so they can become a magnet for people who want to come and cause trouble”.
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “We must say to Members of Parliament: be careful where you hold your constituency surgeries in a place that is protected but, at the same time, if you need police protection that is going to be available.
It need not be obtrusive, it need not be so obvious, but I think the protection has got to be made available now to Members of Parliament who feel that there is a risk to what they are doing. I think that will be introduced in the next few days.”
The former Labour leader said that “the answer cannot be less democracy”.
He went on: “The answer when you come across a terrorist incident is we don’t blink, we don’t shirk, we don’t flinch, we don’t show weakness and we stand up for what we believe.
And, of course, we will increase the security that is available to Members of Parliament and councillors when they’re doing their surgeries, and that is something that must happen immediately.
But it’s true also to say that we must not allow our democracy to be diminished because a terrorist attack has occurred.”