Parliament calls in new security firm after mounting complaints from MPs

·3 min read
Police officers read tribute messages on bouquets placed outside Parliament to honour Sir David Amess
Police officers read tribute messages on bouquets placed outside Parliament to honour Sir David Amess

Parliament has been forced to hire a new security firm to protect MPs in their homes and constituency offices, after complaints that the previous contractor took a year to install new locks.

Commons bosses have not renewed the contract of Chubb, a security firm hired in the wake of Jo Cox’s murder to install additional security for MPs when they are not in Parliament.

MPs complained that they received slow service and substandard security advice, despite the establishment of a national-level police effort to protect MPs, code-named Operation Bridger.

Chubb’s contract has not been renewed and it will be replaced from December by ADT, the firm used by the Home Office to install alarms for high-risk Cabinet ministers.

In the wake of the killing of Sir David Amess on Friday, MPs bemoaned the quality of security in their constituencies. One MP, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “They have yet to do a single thing in my new house, despite getting on to them the day after I moved in. It also took a year to do the most basic stuff at my office, like fitting a new front door.”

“I found Chubb absolutely exasperating,” said another MP. “I was delighted when I heard they had lost the contract.”

A government source also claimed that in its role working for Parliament Chubb's approach had been “very inconsistent across the country”, with some MPs offered only very basic measures and others given high levels of security.

“When they did show up, they were just like: ‘You need locks on the windows’,” said one frustrated former minister. “That’s about it. They were basically assessing it from the perspective of ‘how do you secure a house,’ not the specific and weird threats MPs face”.

The Telegraph understands some MPs have been offered fixed panic alarms in their constituency offices and homes, while others have been given portable “lone worker devices” that can alert police if they are in danger.

The new measures were put in place following the murder of Jo Cox, a Labour MP, in 2016.

The police National Counter Terrorism Security Office designed a package of security measures for MPs, which were approved by the National Police Chiefs Council.

ADT set to take over

An email to members from parliamentary authorities, sent earlier this year, confirms that ADT will “take over the responsibility for maintaining existing security measures and installing new security measures”.

MPs also said that when they requested security beyond the “basic” package offered by Chubb, the installation of any new systems was beset by delays and administrative difficulty caused by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (Ipsa).

One MP said police had advised them to install new security systems in their home, but it was too difficult to have them signed off by parliamentary authorities. The MP accused Ipsa of a “computer says no” approach.

Ideas understood to be under consideration include offering MPs routine police protection or private security guards at weekly constituency surgeries as part of the Home Secretary’s review.

It is understood that Priti Patel would like to abolish the two-tier system for MPs’ security. Under the current policy, only members who have received serious threats are given the “enhanced” package from the parliamentary security contractor.

Arrangements under review

A Parliament spokesman said they worked with the Metropolitan Police’s Parliamentary Liaison and Intelligence team and local police forces to ensure MPs are as safe as possible, adding that security arrangements “are kept under continuous review”.

However, a Commons source said the criticism was “unfair to Chubb”, insisting that far more parliamentarians were now using security measures than before the firm was brought in. “We now have huge numbers of MPs taking measures because we brought in a national contractor,” the source said.

Chubb Fire and Security did not respond to a request for comment.

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