Jo Cox fatal shooting: enhanced security for MPs had started

Houses Of Parliament

MPs were in the process of receiving “enhanced” security measures for their homes and constituency offices amid heightened fears of attacks, before the fatal shooting of the Labour MP Jo Cox.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa) said it had reviewed security measures and set aside additional funds for each member of parliament.

The review, which concluded in January, was prompted by concerns that MPs were vulnerable to terrorism. Ipsa sources confirmed that MPs were entitled to apply for additional security if they believed there was a threat to their safety.

MPs can apply for a standard package of measures which allow them to buy or lease security equipment such as alarm systems, shutters, CCTV and personal alarms for staff. They can also apply for a “lone worker device” which is a personal alarm system that can be carried.

If there is a specific threat relating to parliamentary activity, MPs can speak to a police commander to ask for additional enhanced safety measures.

However, there appears to be no specific security advice for MPs as they walk the streets. Cox was killed on a street in Birstall, West Yorkshire on Thursday.

According to the website W4mp, which is used by MPs’ staff, those who work in constituency offices are encouraged to develop an office code for a potentially dangerous or disruptive situation.

One former worker for an MP wrote on the website: “A constituency office I worked in has a code for calling the police in the event of a violent visitor – the secretary would call the caseworker in the back room [with a certain phrase].”

Security measures for MPs were updated in 2010 after the Labour MP Stephen Timms was stabbed twice in the stomach by a constituent in Beckton, east London. Roshonara Choudhry, 21, was convicted of attempted murder.

In 2000, the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham, Nigel Jones, and his assistant, Andrew Pennington, 39, a local councillor, were attacked with a Samurai sword. Pennington was killed, and Jones, now Baron Jones of Cheltenham, was severely injured. Robert Ashman, then 49, was subsequently found guilty of attempted murder. He admitted to Pennington’s manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility in 2003.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Rajeev Syal, for theguardian.com on Thursday 16th June 2016 18.07 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010