MPs wear stab vests to meet constituents over safety fears

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Some MPs are now wearing stab vests when meeting their constituents because of fears for their safety.

Politicians spoke out about their ongoing frustrations with security arrangements following the murder of Conservative MP Sir David Amess at a surgery in his Southend West constituency in 2021.

One MP told The Times they still did not “feel supported” by the police, while some are thought to be considering hiring their own private security for their surgery meetings.

Virginia Crosbie, Tory MP for Anglesey, told the newspaper that she had reluctantly decided to wear a stab vest. “I always want to be able to engage face to face with my constituents without obvious barriers. But not to engage or to feel unsafe were not options either.”

She added: “It is very sad I must [wear the vest], but the present climate makes it a necessity. I always inform the police I am having a surgery and a close protection officer is with me.”

Mike Freer, Tory MP for Finchley and Golders Green, also said he and his staff have worn stab vests since Mr Amess’s killer was also convicted of plotting an attack on Mr Freer and Michael Gove.

Tory MP James Sunderland said he feared the murder of Mr Amess and Labour MP Jo Cox – killed before in 2016 – “won’t be the last”.

He said: “Heaven forbid it happens again, but it’s a question of when not if, and what we have to do is do everything in our power to prepare us for those situations.”

Mr Sunderland called for reform of the security of MPs, suggesting a security committee should be created in parliament to oversee arrangements. “We need to govern it properly: once you govern it properly, everything else will follow.”

One MP, who said he was considering wearing a stab vest to constituency meetings, said the police response in his area was good for only around six weeks after Mr Amess’ murder in October 2021.

“Every time the police were involved the response was very quick or we’d have our surgeries and we’d have security guards,” he said. “All that’s disappeared now. I’m sure if you requested it, you could get all that stuff, but before they were very proactive, but now I don’t feel supported.”

MPs’ frustration with police responses burst following the Amess murder, with complaints that was “a huge disparity” between the support offered by forces in different parts of the country.

Commons’ authorities announced last year that MPs would be given “bespoke” security advice on any threats they may face following a security review.

And in September 2022, parliament put out to tender a contract to recruit close protection officers, aimed at allowing MPs to “book” the services of extra security personnel.

A parliamentary spokesman said: “We work closely with the Met’s parliamentary liaison and investigations team, and through them, local police forces, who are responsible for the security of MPs and their staff away from the parliamentary estate, to ensure MPs are kept as safe as possible and are able to perform their duties.”

They added: “We cannot comment on MPs’ security arrangements or advice because we would not wish to compromise the safety of MPs, parliamentary staff or members of the public, but these are kept under continuous review.”

Ms Crosbie said the threats and abuse she receives had got “even worse” since she was elected in 2019.

“It’s not just myself, it’s a lot of other particularly female MPs,” she told GB News on Tuesday. “Even before we’ve had breakfast many of us have received one or two threats.”