Parliament Campus Safety

– in the Scottish Parliament at on 21 March 2024.

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Photo of Jamie Greene Jamie Greene Conservative

11. To ask the Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body what steps it is considering to ensure the safety of the public, MSPs and staff entering or exiting the Scottish Parliament campus, in light of a number of recent events of concern. (S6O-03249)

Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

The corporate body takes its security and safety responsibilities very seriously. A wide range of physical and personal security arrangements are in place to ensure the safety of everyone who visits or works in the building. The security arrangements reflect a heightened response. That is the required stance for the United Kingdom threat level, which is presently set at substantial. There have been recent incidents, but the threat and subsequent response levels have not changed since February 2022.

Photo of Jamie Greene Jamie Greene Conservative

Despite all of that, in recent weeks, we have seen a spate of attempts to disrupt democracy in the Parliament. There has been interference from the gallery during First Minister’s question time; members of the public have been harassed or even prevented from entering the building during protests; members, as well as our staff, have been accosted by protesters upon exiting various points of the building; and, of course, the building’s exterior was daubed in red paint just last week, although some people might say that that was an improvement. In the current febrile political environment, that is more than unacceptable; it could be dangerous.

Has there been any investigation into those specific protests? Were any of them facilitated or aided by any MSP or MSP group? Why is the Parliament’s exterior security clearly failing to keep us all—the building, our staff and the public—safe?

Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

Jamie Greene has raised a number of points. With regard to protests outside the building, we welcome peaceful protests, but I recognise that some recent incidents have been a cause for concern. The management of protests and the safety of the public are matters for Police Scotland. Although we work closely with Police Scotland, it is responsible for public safety.

However, I can confirm that a review of the protest that took place last month—which will consider its impact and lessons learned—was immediately commissioned by the security team and is under way. I also confirm that we are looking into allegations that, by sharing information, passholders helped protesters to block entrances.