SIR DAVID AMESS: Calls for authorities to increase safety measures for MPs
Sir David Amess MP, Image: Chris McAndrew/PA Wire
MPs in Leeds have called for security measures to be reviewed, following the killing of Sir David Amess.
Sir David was holding a weekly advice surgery in his Essex constituency last Friday when he was stabbed to death by an attendee.
The incident has understandably opened up painful memories for West Yorkshire MPs, following the murder of their colleague Jo Cox back in 2016.
Both Labour and Conservative politicians in Leeds have now called on authorities to review security measures for advice surgeries and meeting members of the public.
Morley and Outwood MP Andrea Jenkyns (Con), said she herself has been subject to multiple threats both online and in person since she was first elected six years ago.
She added: “In July of this year, my office identified one constituent who had sent 70 emails, including one advising that I buy a stab vest.
“This was deeply alarming and concerning. Those who enter public service have a right to feel safe, as do their families and those who work for them.
“I therefore fully welcome the review into this matter, and hope that practical solutions can be found.”
Ms Jenkyns went on to suggest measures such as appointment-only surgeries, virtual meetings, and greater vetting.
Leeds Northwest MP Alex Sobel (Lab) went on to suggest that there was a wider cultural problem around violence towards politicians that needed to be tackled.
“I think we’re just collecting our thoughts,” said Mr Sobel. “But its clear that we are most vulnerable at advertised constituency events and surgeries so we need to balance security and accessibility.
“There’s a wider cultural question around violence in society and towards politicians.”
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab today suggested on Sky News that MPs could be offered private security for constituency meetings.
Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn (Lab) said that security for MPs should be reviewed, but that members of the public should still feel their elected representatives should be approachable.
He said: “In the light of this awful tragedy, security for MPs, and especially in their advice surgeries, must now be reviewed.
“There should be sensible precautions to protect MPs and their staff, but our job is all about serving the public and I do not want us to become remote from the people we represent.”
The comments follow the temporary tightening of security measures for Leeds city councillors announced at the weekend.
Coun Paul Wray, a Labour councillor for Hunslet and Riverside, tweeted on Friday evening: “Following today’s killing of a Member of Parliament, safety advice has been issued by the council and until further notice, there will be uniformed police presence at all my councillor advise drop-ins and I’ll be ending all house visits.
“It is sad this extra security will be needed, but like many councillors and MPs – I refuse to not do my duty and I will continue to provide the service I was elected to provide. Democracy and accountability must always win.”
It is understood that the cancellation of home visits was not mandatory, but that numerous councillors are taking this step to ensure their safety.
Words: Richard Beecham, Local Demcoracy Reporter
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