Home Office unveils £31m security package as Cleverly vows to 'protect MPs from intimidation'

28 February 2024, 00:47 | Updated: 28 February 2024, 08:52

James Cleverly announced the £31m package.
James Cleverly announced the £31m package. Picture: Alamy

By Jenny Medlicott

The Home Secretary has announced a £31m package to boost security measures for MPs amid growing safety concerns.

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James Cleverly will meet with police chiefs on Wednesday to discuss what more can be done to improve the safety of MPs and “protect democratic processes from intimidation, disruption or subversion”.

The Home Office said the latest funding package will provide increased security provisions for MPs.

Under the plans, all elected MPs and candidates will have a dedicated named police contact they can discuss security matters with, officials said.

The investment will also boost police capabilities, increase private sector security provisions for those facing a higher risk and expand cyber security advice to locally elected representatives.

Announcing the new funding, Mr Cleverly said: "The Government will take every possible step to safeguard the people, processes and institutions upon which our democracy relies.

"I take the safety and security of all members of the House with the utmost seriousness.

Tobias Ellwood's home was targeted earlier this month.
Tobias Ellwood's home was targeted earlier this month. Picture: Alamy

Read more: 'We must not surrender': Minister slaps down calls to return to hybrid voting to combat threats

Read more: Return to hybrid model of working could help MPs who 'feel vulnerable' amid safety fears, Labour MP tells LBC

"None of us should have to accept that enduring hate crimes, harassment, or threats is part of the job.

"I will continue to work closely with my police counterparts to provide elected representatives with the support they need."

Former Justice Secretary Sir Robert Buckland told LBC News that social media is empowering people to harass politicians.

Sir Robert told Martin Stanford: "The fact that social media now is a megaphone for people and interests who in the past you just wouldn't have heard from because they are such a tiny minority in our country, but who now feel empowered to use the anonymity of social media to launch broadsides against unsuspecting politicians."

It comes amid growing fears about the safety of MPs in recent months, particularly over concerns they could be targeted by extremists.

Conservative backbencher Tobias Ellwood's home was targeted earlier this month by pro-Palestine protesters, with the police warning his family to "stay away" from the property as "arriving through that crowd would've antagonised the situation".

Two serving MPs - Labour's Jo Cox and Conservative Sir David Amess - have been murdered in the past eight years, with reforms to the security of parliamentarians having been introduced as a result of those killings.

Security minister Tom Tugendhat denounced recent “disgraceful attempts to intimidate MPs” following the announcement.

He said: "Over the past few weeks we've seen disgraceful attempts to intimidate MPs and undermine our democratic processes.

"That behaviour is a threat to our democracy, and toxic for our society.

"We will do whatever is necessary to protect those who've been elected to represent their local communities, and to defend our democratic freedoms."

Harriet Harman suggests a 'hybrid' model for MPs

It comes after Harriet Harman suggested MPs return to a ‘hybrid’ working model in a bid to protect their safety on Monday.

Speaking to LBC’s Andrew Marr, Labour MP Harriet Harman said a hybrid model of working could help reassure MPs who feel “vulnerable”.

She said: “You think Mike Freer had his office subjected to an arson attack, Jo Cox was murdered, David Amess was murdered. This is not snowflakery, these are real issues of concern."

Ms Harman continued: “One of the things that I think could come out of a Speaker's Conference is an agreement that actually we could go back to hybrid again, which is that sometimes MPs could speak in the Chamber, sometimes they could speak from their constituency.

“And that's something I would propose to a Speaker's Conference, so if somebody feels particularly under pressure, they can still participate in the Commons, but not in a way that makes them feel vulnerable.”

But a No 10 spokeswoman said on Tuesday the Prime Minister would resist any change that could "stifle" the role of Parliament.

The spokeswoman said Mr Sunak acknowledged the threats faced by MPs.

"Some of the behaviour and the intimidation has been completely unacceptable," she told reporters.

"I don't think anyone listening to MPs talking about their experiences in the house could fail to be moved by that.

"He's incredibly aware of that."

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