MPs still have significant concerns about their safety six months on from the murder of David Amess, with many warning there is a “backlog” of issues waiting to be resolved that have left their homes and offices unsecure.
Despite the parliamentary authorities’ vow in October to keep MPs “as safe as possible”, many of those who spoke to the Guardian said the situation had only got worse.
Speaking anonymously, they blamed a “shambolic” handover between the previous and current security contractor, saying outstanding requests for safety measures had piled up and been delayed further by assessments of what equipment they needed having to be redone.
“If things stay the same … it feels like not a case of if something horrific will happen again, but when,” one warned.
Another said: “If someone wanted to break in to my office and murder all my staff, it would be very easy to do so.”
Even MPs who had experienced few issues themselves said they still believed the system was a lottery. “I’ve been quite lucky,” one admitted.
Although parliament’s previous security contractor, Chubb, was ditched after MPs aired their dismay, there were complaints that security equipment requested nearly a year ago had still not been installed by the successor firm, ADT.
A source said the handover was a “complete farce”, as ADT had not been given paperwork such as previous security audits of MPs’ homes and offices, while Chubb “won’t communicate with us”.
One Conservative MP said that despite multiple calls to ADT, their constituency office’s security had remained precarious for eight months because a burglar alarm had been installed that did not work – but they could not manage to get a code needed to activate it from 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 it’s very similar to the previous contractor and that nothing has really changed.”
A Labour MP also said only half the security measures they needed had been implemented. “Nothing happens fast enough and the handover from Chubb to ADT was not smooth,” they said. “Security teams don’t always take issues seriously and it often takes repeated calls for action.”
Kim Leadbeater, the MP for the Batley and Spen seat that her sister Jo Cox represented until she was killed in 2016, said were still “inefficiencies in the system around practical measures of protection”.
She said she had been “reassured that those are being dealt with” and that it was a “big job” to get the security right for all 650 MPs, their family and staff members.
Leadbeater added that MPs should be accessible to the public and it was a “real challenge” to “get that balance right”. As well improving security for MPs, she said it was important to change “the culture around politics” to “make it a more civilised place and a less dangerous place to be”.
As well as security equipment, MPs said support from police also varied between local forces. They said that letting officers know where they would be in advance took up a lot of staff admin and the messages sometimes received no response.
Parliament’s head of security was also forced to write to MPs last month, admitting that “many of you had concerns” when a late-night Commons sitting coincided with a strike on the London underground.
Those who tried to catch 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 to a cab rank 20 minutes away in Victoria.
A parliament spokesperson said MPs being able to do their job safely was “fundamental to our democracy” and that work was continuing with the Metropolitan police and local forces.
They added: “We cannot comment on MPs’ security arrangements or advice because we would not wish to compromise the safety of MPs, parliamentary staff or members of the public, but these are kept under continuous review.”
ADT and Chubb have been approached for comment.