UK MPs to receive £31m security package to protect their personal safety

Home Secretary said no MP should have to accept that threats or harassment is 'part of the job'

Demonstrators wave Palestinian flags in Parliament Square in London on February 21 as the House of Commons voted on a call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. AFP
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A new £31 million [$39 million] package to bolster MPs' security will include providing elected politicians with a dedicated police contact to liaise with over safety issues.

Home Secretary James Cleverly unveiled the additional funding on Wednesday before a meeting with police chiefs to discuss what more can be done to improve the safety of MPs.

No MP should have to accept that threats or harassment is “part of the job”, Mr Cleverly said.

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

Conservative backbencher Tobias Ellwood’s home was a target this month for 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 on by environmental protesters in past months.

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

Hundreds protest outside the UK parliament demanding a Gaza ceasefire - video

Hundreds protest outside the UK parliament demanding a ceasefire

Hundreds protest outside the UK parliament demanding a ceasefire

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 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 police arrangements for politicians.

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

“The government will take every possible step to safeguard the people, processes and institutions upon which our democracy relies," Mr Cleverly said as he announced the funding.

“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 extra 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 said.

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

Ali Harbi Ali found guilty of murdering Sir David Amess – in pictures

Changes have included improvements to existing security measures at MPs’ homes and offices, and the introduction of extra private sector 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 he 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 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 Mr Sunak would resist any change that could “stifle” the role of Parliament.

The spokeswoman said he acknowledged the threats faced by MPs.

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

“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.”

Updated: February 28, 2024, 12:27 AM