The Home Secretary has revealed that MPs could be granted police protection while conducting constituency surgeries, in the wake of Sir David Amess’ murder.
The 69-year-old was stabbed to death on Friday afternoon while attending a routine meeting at a Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea.
Priti Patel said “protection” for MPs carrying out their duties was being considered, as well as a “whole spectrum” of other measures aimed at protecting the elected members.
‘Immediate’ security changes
Patel appeared on Sky News on Sunday morning, where she told Trevor Phillips “immediate” security changes had been put in place to ensure MPs were safe while meeting members of the public.
The Cabinet minister told Trevor Phillips that the options being considered included that “when you hold your surgeries, could you have officers or some kind of protection while you’re holding your surgery?”
However, she also stressed that the fatal incident on Friday should not impact on the relationships of MPs and their constituents.
The Home Secretary has also revealed MPs have been contacted by their local police force, to ensure they feel safe and are aware of the measures available to them should they require additional security.
Patel’s comments came as Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy admitted she has felt unsafe while in her Wigan constituency, adding that she wasn’t sure the issue of MPs safety could ever be resolved.
‘Appalling attacks online’
The concerns around the safety of MPs come after the frenzied attack of two serving MPs in little over five years, as Mr Amess was killed on Friday and Labour MP for Batley and Spen, Jo Cox, was murdered in 2016 as she was on her way to a constituency surgery.
On Sky News, Ms Patel was asked whether she would consider airport-style security, “That would be with the police and the House authorities. There are lots of things under consideration already,” she replied.
Along with considering measures taken to protect MPs from physical harm, Ms Patel added that there were considerations around how to tackle online threats.
She told Phillips some online attacks and comments were “relentless,” adding: “I’ve seen my colleagues go through some of the most appalling attacks online, and I have as well.”
Asked whether she could introduce legislation to remove the right to online anonymity, she replied: “I want us to look at everything and there is work taking place already.
“We’ve got an Online Harms Bill that will come to parliament. There’s work taking place on it right now.
“I’ve done a lot of work on social media platforms, mainly around encryption and areas of that nature.
“But we can’t carry on like this. I spend too much time with communities who have been under attack, who’ve had all sorts of postings put online and it’s a struggle to get those postings taken down. We want to make some big changes on that.”