Justice Secretary Dominic Raab says private security is more “likely” option, rather than police, as government considers additional measures to keep MPs safe
MPs should be offered more private security guards for events in their constituency following the murder of Sir David Amess.
Justice Secretary and former Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab today suggested that private security is the more “likely” option, rather than police.
It comes despite a warning from the nightclub industry that it suffers from a shortage of bouncers, with one in five venues facing downsizing due to a lack of security personnel.
It is believed that MPs can already request private security for their surgeries, but one MP told the Mirror that he is currently only available if there is a specific threat, on the recommendation of the police.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is seeking to extend protection after MPs complained of inconsistencies across the country.
When asked if there would be plainclothes police during MPs ‘surgeries, Mr Raab told Sky News:’ It depends on the individual.
“I think we’re more likely to look at things like private security guards, there is already, I believe, money available for that.”
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He added, “I probably wouldn’t choose to have them outside of a surgery I have. I think I would be worried about the chilling effect, I’m not sure it is necessary to have this.
Mr Raab said he would not stand in the way of any MP, including women parliamentarians, who wanted a police presence during surgeries.
But the justice secretary warned, “We don’t want a wedge placed between us and the voters. “
He added: “The problem you have is that a lot of people come to see their MP, it’s a hell of a thing to do, it takes a lot of courage.
“They feel sensitive to it, they feel vulnerable. You don’t want to add to that dreadful feeling as they wait for a constituency operation.
Mr Raab, who enjoys close protection as part of his cabinet work, told the BBC: “I have received three death and death threats in the past two years.”
It comes after Home Secretary Priti Patel said “we must fill all the gaps” in security arrangements for MPs following the murder of the Tory MP.
James Veysey / REX / Shutterstock)
Describing practical steps MPs could take, she stressed “make appointments in advance, check details of people you see, check in advance where you are going, make sure you don’t. ‘are not alone’.
Ms Patel told Sky News there were “other things, also related to police and security”.
When asked if MPs could receive the level of protection they receive at Westminster – where there are armed police officers – she replied: “All of these issues and options are being considered.”
The Times later reported that the government had ruled out armed police for constituency surgeries and should instead offer private security guards.
Still, the Night Time Industries Association warned over the weekend that a shortage of bouncers “endangers public safety.”
Managing Director Michael Kill said: “We carried out a survey a few months ago which found that security resources in the area were only 70%, and I fear the situation has deteriorated further. since then.
“Whether it is acting as the first line of defense against a terrorist attack or intervening to end violent incidents, licensed security personnel are essential to public safety.
“The current shortages are starting to put the public at risk.
“As in other sectors currently experiencing shortages, this is a long-term problem and the decline in security resources can be traced over at least 3 years, but this has been greatly exacerbated by the pandemic, de many licensed staff leaving the area when bars and clubs closed and now choosing not to return.
“Brexit hasn’t helped either, but it’s far from the only factor at play here.”
Sir David was stabbed multiple times during a constituency operation at a church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex on Friday.
Ali Harbi Ali, 25, has been arrested on suspicion of murder and terrorist cops are investigating.
Ms Patel called on the police to review the security of MPs. Sir David is the second MP to be killed in recent years following the assassination of Jo Cox in 2016.
MPs have already had to tighten up security, including installing new panic buttons and CCTV, after Jo Cox’s murder in 2016. Now they are sharing their fears on private WhatsApp groups with their colleagues.
An MP told the Mirror on Saturday: ‘It has gotten steadily worse over the past five years – I have never experienced it so bad.
“It’s 10 times worse than you think, but a lot of us just don’t talk about it.”
The MP, who said they and their colleagues had received death threats from neo-Nazis and jihadists, said the greatest fear was around a tiny minority of people “seriously ill. “which are unleashed at public events.
“Most of us constantly live in fear that people with serious mental health issues during surgeries or public meetings will lose the intrigue and go for you,” they said.
Another MP told the Mirror: “Women MPs are particularly worried about attacks by copiers and even being attacked on a daily basis at school or in shops.
“We want to be visible to our constituents, but it’s scary with these risks.
“We shouldn’t have to wait for someone to die for there to be a whole flurry of action to keep us safe.”