Members’ personal safety is an issue that the corporate body takes very seriously. To ensure that support to members reflects the security risks that members face, the corporate body works closely with Police Scotland and other security partners to make that assessment.
The security of members at their homes and at their Edinburgh accommodation has been discussed by the corporate body but, on assessment, the focus for making security enhancements has been on local offices and surgeries. The corporate body has approved a budget, which members can access, to upgrade the security at their local offices, based on recommendations that were taken from surveys that were undertaken by local crime prevention officers. The corporate body has also purchased lone-worker devices, which are available to members and their staff, as an additional security measure. Police Scotland and the security office also provide personal safety briefings to members and their staff on request.
Members can contact Police Scotland for an assessment of their home security. Police Scotland will undertake a survey, similar to that provided at local offices, and will make recommendations to members for simple measures that can be put in place to improve their home security. The corporate body does not, at the moment, provide a fund that members can access for the implementation of any security measures that are recommended, as home security is not currently assessed as being the main area of risk.
I am grateful to Mr Carlaw for his reply. I place on record my thanks to the corporate body for the provision of security for members’ offices, and I encourage my colleagues who have not activated that to do so as soon as possible.
Mr Carlaw will be aware that the UK Parliament’s Joint Committee on Security has commissioned an independent review of MPs’ personal home security. Notwithstanding Mr Carlaw’s reply, will the corporate body consider, at the very least, a request to Police Scotland to undertake a review of security of MSPs’ homes, as a precursor to a wider strategy on member and staff security?
I concur with Mr Stewart’s view that every member should take advantage of the opportunity to have their constituency premises surveyed by Police Scotland so that any recommendations or risks can be addressed.
We are aware of and have discussed the fact that the Welsh Assembly and Westminster have introduced home security arrangements for members. We have focused on what we feel are the main areas of risk, and we have taken advice throughout from Police Scotland. That does not preclude members from contacting Police Scotland or the security office to arrange a review of their home security, if that would provide them with additional reassurance. I would only say that, at this time, the SPCB would expect a member to meet the costs of upgrading their home security, although in circumstances in which there are particular concerns for a member’s personal safety, the SPCB would naturally consider any applications for funding of home security.