Saturday, 18 May, 2024

ON AIR NOW:

New security package to protect MPs

New security package to protect MPs

Security measures for MPs will be bolstered with a £31 million package to better protect MPs.

Home Secretary James Cleverly, who made the funding announcement, will meet with police chiefs on Wednesday to discuss what more can be done to improve the safety of MPs.

He said no MP should have to accept that threats or harassment is “part of the job”.

The extra funding follows fears about MPs being targeted and intimidated by demonstrators in recent months, particularly by those demanding action to bring an end to the fighting in the Israel-Hamas war.

Conservative backbencher Tobias Ellwood’s home was targeted earlier this month by pro-Palestine protesters, with the police warning his family to “stay away” from the property as “arriving through that crowd would’ve antagonised the situation”.

The family homes of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer have also been set upon by environmental protesters in past months.

The Home Office said the latest funding package will provide increased security provisions for MPs.

The investment will be used to enhance police capabilities, increase private sector security provisions for those facing a higher risk and to expand cyber security advice to locally elected representatives.

It will also ensure all elected representatives and candidates have a dedicated named police contact to liaise with on security matters, officials said.

Mr Cleverly’s department said the measures would significantly expand the support provided under current policing arrangements for politicians.

The Home Secretary will hold a roundtable with the National Police Chiefs’ Council on Wednesday to discuss efforts to “protect democratic processes from intimidation, disruption or subversion”, his aides said.

Announcing the new funding, Mr Cleverly said: “The Government will take every possible step to safeguard the people, processes and institutions upon which our democracy relies.

“I take the safety and security of all members of the House with the utmost seriousness.

“None of us should have to accept that enduring hate crimes, harassment, or threats is part of the job.

“I will continue to work closely with my police counterparts to provide elected representatives with the support they need.”

Security minister Tom Tugendhat said: “Over the past few weeks we’ve seen disgraceful attempts to intimidate MPs and undermine our democratic processes.

“That behaviour is a threat to our democracy, and toxic for our society.

“We will do whatever is necessary to protect those who’ve been elected to represent their local communities, and to defend our democratic freedoms.”

The announcement includes the establishment of a communities fund to support the deployment of additional police patrols each week in England and Wales to help deal with “increased community tensions”, the Home Office said.

It is designed to increase support available to vulnerable communities, increase police visibility and boost public confidence, the department added.

Two serving MPs — Labour’s Jo Cox and Conservative Sir David Amess — have been murdered in the past eight years, with reforms to the security of parliamentarians having been introduced as a result of those killings.

Changes have included improvements to existing security measures at MPs’ homes and offices, and the bringing in additional private sector-delivered protective security where necessary.

On Tuesday, Mr Sunak rejected a suggestion that MPs should be able to speak and vote from their constituencies because of concerns about security at Westminster.

Downing Street said the Prime Minister believed it was “really important that we maintain Parliament as a place for free debate and expression of views”.

Veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman had suggested a return to Covid-era remote working could be needed to ensure the protection of politicians in the face of threats and intimidation.

The comments by the Mother of the House, the longest-serving female MP, came after the chaotic scenes in Westminster last week over the vote on a ceasefire in Gaza.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle broke with precedent over the selection of a Labour amendment to an SNP motion because he had concerns about the intimidation suffered by some parliamentarians but the backlash to his actions has left his own position in jeopardy.

Ms Harman suggested a return to a “hybrid” model of working could be examined by a Speaker’s Conference to help maintain MPs’ safety.

But a No 10 spokeswoman said the Prime Minister would resist any change that could “stifle” the role of Parliament.

The spokeswoman said Mr Sunak acknowledged the threats faced by MPs.

“Some of the behaviour and the intimidation has been completely unacceptable,” she told reporters.

“I don’t think anyone listening to MPs talking about their experiences in the house could fail to be moved by that.

“He’s incredibly aware of that.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

Scroll to Top