The Speaker
Friday, 14 June 2024 – 10:56
No 10 Downing Street (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Measures considered for protecting MPs following murder of Sir David Amess

Debates around how best to protect MPs are expected to continue in the coming days, following the murder of Sir David Amess MP on Friday.

Sir David Amess was stabbed to death at a constituency surgery on Friday, in an incident that has been declared as terrorism-related. The 25-year-old man arrested by police at the scene remains in custody and it is believed that a number of addresses have been searched in relation to the investigation over the weekend.

Tributes to Sir David have poured in from across the UK and also internationally since the incident on Friday, with many now also raising concerns about MPs safety, and whether tougher security measures are needed.

The Home Secretary Priti Patel has said that she is working with House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle on “practical” measures to protect MPs. There are though debates over what type of measures may be deemed proportionate. 

Some have called for face-to-face meetings between MPs and constituents to be paused, though others have argued that meetings should continue, with individuals pre-booking appointments to have their backgrounds checked. It is also believed that police protection for constituency meetings has been under consideration.

Sir David Amess’ murder comes after the killing of MP Jo Cox in 2016. After Ms Cox’s murder, security was increased for MPs, including through the provision of panic buttons and additional locks. 

It has been suggested that Amess’ murder could now prompt new rules around social media, and encourage a kinder political discourse. In the UK, politics is often seen as rather confrontational and some have argued that this can be a cause of abuse posted about and to MPs online. In recent years, many MPs have regularly received threats of violence and even death threats on social media, some on a regular basis.

One potential reform could be to outlaw anonymity on social media, though there may be disagreements about which measures are proportionate and necessary. 

It is expected that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make a statement in the House of Commons on Monday regarding Sir David’s murder, and MPs will get the chance to pay their tributes to Sir David, who spent nearly 40 years as a backbencher in the Commons.

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