Local Offices and Surgeries (Security)

– in the Scottish Parliament on 18th November 2021.

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Photo of Jamie Greene Jamie Greene Conservative

1. To ask the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, in light of reported concerns, what consideration it is giving to additional funding for increased security personnel and security for MSPs’ surgeries and local offices. (S6O-00413)

Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

At our meeting on 4 November, we considered options for further security support that could be made available to members following the death of Sir David Amess.

We recognise that any changes to security provision would be expected to have budget implications. However, the corporate body is clear that the safety of members and their staff should not be compromised on the ground of cost.

We have commissioned the following urgent work: a review of advice regarding lone working in local offices, including extending the provision of lone work devices; working with Police Scotland to introduce an annual security briefing targeted to issues in members’ regions; and a project to establish how to effectively provide security support to MSPs at surgery meetings, including an assessment of the viability of providing security operatives, if appropriate.

As Jamie Greene will appreciate, these matters are too sensitive to discuss in a public forum, so the corporate body has agreed that a fuller security update will be shared with members soon.

Photo of Jamie Greene Jamie Greene Conservative

I appreciate the sensitive nature of the discussions. Everyone in the chamber sends their thoughts and condolences to the friends and family of Sir David Amess.

No one in public office, public service or politics should go to work and not come home. We have a duty to protect our staff and members of the public who attend our surgeries and local offices, but we are keen to be as accessible as possible.

Has consideration been given to offering a centralised approach to the procurement of a third party security presence for those members who feel that they need it? Are members who want to contract services privately now free to do that? Will their current office provision allow them to do so?

Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

Jamie Greene raises important points, and I appreciate his comments about the security of members and their staff.

The Parliament currently offers a centrally managed security upgrade for local offices, although members can choose to go ahead and contract work themselves. I advise members to contact the Parliament’s security office to discuss the matter further if they wish to proceed with security measures.