MPs still have significant concerns about their safety six months after David Amess’ murder, with many warning there is a ‘backlog’ of unresolved issues that have left their homes and offices unsafe.
Despite a vow by parliamentary authorities in October to keep MPs “as safe as possible”, many of those who spoke to the Guardian said the situation had only gotten worse.
Speaking anonymously, they blamed a ‘chaotic’ handover between the former and current security contractor, saying outstanding security measures requests had piled up and been further delayed by evaluations of the equipment they needed to be redone.
“If things stay the same… it feels like it’s not a question of if something horrible will happen again, but when,” one warned.
Another said: ‘If someone wanted to break into my office and murder all my staff, that would be very easy to do.’
Even MPs who had encountered few problems themselves said they still thought the system was a lottery. “I was very lucky,” one admitted.
Although Parliament’s former security contractor Chubb was dropped after MPs expressed dismay, there have been complaints that security equipment requested nearly a year ago n still hadn’t been installed by its successor company, ADT.
A source said the transfer was a “complete farce” as ADT had not received documents such as previous security audits of MPs’ homes and offices, while Chubb “will not communicate with us”.
A Tory MP says despite multiple calls to ADT, security at their constituency office remained shaky for eight months because a burglar alarm was installed which did not work – but they failed to get the necessary code to activate it with Chubb.
Another said they had been waiting 10 months for basic security equipment at their home, including a CCTV camera and lights.
A third admitted: “The consensus is that he is very similar to the previous entrepreneur and nothing has really changed.”
A Labor MP also said that only half of the security measures they needed had been implemented. “Nothing is happening fast enough and Chubb’s transfer to ADT has not been smooth,” they said. “Security teams don’t always take issues seriously and that often requires repeated calls to action.”
Kim Leadbeater, the MP for the Batley and Spen seat that her sister Jo Cox represented until her assassination in 2016, said there were still “inefficiencies in the system around practical protective measures”.
She said she had been “reassured that these were being dealt with” and that it was a “big job” to keep the 650 MPs, their families and staff safe.
Leadbeater added that MPs should be accessible to the public and that it was a “real challenge” to “find that right balance”. As well as improving security for MPs, she said it was important to change “the culture around politics” to “make it a more civilized place and a less dangerous place”.
As well as security equipment, MPs said police support also varied between local forces. They said that letting officers know where they would be in advance took a lot of paperwork and messages sometimes went unanswered.
Parliament’s security chief was also forced to write to MPs last month, admitting ‘many of you had concerns’ when a late night Commons sitting coincided with a Tube strike from London.
Those who tried to take taxis home afterwards described ‘having to wait at the exact spot where PC Keith Palmer was murdered’ during the 2017 Westminster Bridge terror attack, or walk 20 mins to a taxi rank in Victoria.
A parliament spokesman said being able to do their jobs safely was ‘fundamental to our democracy’ and work was continuing with the Metropolitan Police and local forces.
They added: ‘We cannot comment on any security arrangements or advice for MPs as we would not want to compromise the safety of MPs, parliamentary staff or members of the public, but these are the subject of a ongoing review.”
ADT and Chubb have been approached for comment.