MEPs raise concerns about security measures in their homes and offices The lower house

MEPs have expressed concern that security measures take more than a year to implement, and accuse Parliament’s spending watchdog, Ipsa, and the security provider of a “lottery” system.

Fears have grown around the protection offered to MPs following the assassination of conservative backer David David Amess in a constituency operation this month.

Despite receiving assurances about safety assessments and equipment for their homes and offices, several MPs – all speaking anonymously – told the Guardian that they had experienced long delays or inadequate equipment.

Panic alarms, known as “lone worker devices”, are said to falter. A Member of Parliament in the north-west of England said that when they put it in their bag, the “SOS” button was held down, which should trigger someone checking their safety – but they have never received such contact. A South West England MP said they were testing their device several times after Amess’s killing. “I thought given the increased situation that we should see what happens and literally nothing happened.”

Fears have been expressed about inadequate protection of constituency offices. A Midlands MP said it had taken a year to install security doors and that the building alarm had occasionally displayed faults in the middle of the night. A Northeast MP said there were too many problems to document and that his office door needed to be repaired several times.

Whether the work is done quickly or not was branded as a “lottery” by someone else who said staff should make daily or weekly calls to track progress with safety equipment signed by the Independent Parliamentary Standardization Authority (Ipsa) watchdog or installed by Chubb, the outgoing parliamentary security contractor.

Even when the work was completed, there were still complaints. A North West England MP said that when security changes were made to their head office door, they were told by police that they were not adequate.

MEPs’ homes are of particular concern as many indicate their address on ballot papers. A London MP said it had taken 10 months for the work to start improving the security of their homes. Before Parliament switched security providers from Chubb to AD on November 1, the MP said: “No one has shed a tear that Chubb has lost his contract. But the people who are in the middle of work or still waiting for work to begin… want not to start over with the new supplier. ”

A Midlands MP said they were facing a five-month wait for upgraded security in their home: “We asked for it all and kept going back to Chubb, and for five months they said, ‘We can not do something before Ipsa has signed the budget. ‘ They have the things they are ready to go, but until they have been confirmed that they are paid, they can not do it. ”

In another issue, a female MP wanted an alarm mounted in her home, but because it was on the list, she was told that this would require special building permits, meaning her address would be made public. Another MP said it was a “nightmare” which they heard had “affected quite a few people”.

One Tory was strongly critical of the delays, saying: “The fact that the measures are only being completed now … is beyond a joke, it is just not acceptable that it has taken so long. As we have seen with the recent attacks on MPs and their offices… this is getting more and more serious and I just do not think Ipsa or Chubb take it as seriously as they should. ”

Some MPs said they had experienced few difficulties and were sympathetic to “what will obviously be a logistical nightmare”, with an office manager praising a recent “ingenious” upgrade of security in their office.

Chubb said it was proud of its performance and “committed to providing excellent service and has received positive feedback throughout this period”. A spokesman added that it would ensure a “smooth transfer of services” to the new parliamentary security provider.

Ipsa said it funded “all measures recommended by the police” and stressed that MPs’ security budgets are “unlimited and published collectively to ensure there are no barriers to MPs being able to receive the security measures they need”.

To explain why all the MPs who spoke to the Guardian wanted to remain anonymous, one said: “MPs really should not discuss our security in so much detail, as we are constantly advised not to, for obvious reasons, from the day we arrive here. ”

A spokesman for Parliament said they took the security of MPs very seriously and that everyone was “offered a range of security measures to ensure they are kept as safe as possible and able to perform their duties”, adding that current schemes “kept under constant review”.

Leave a Comment