Cost of protecting MPs soars to £3m a year after Jo Cox murder

Politics is often aggressive. If you care about your country, your constituents, your ideals, why wouldn't you argue your point with passion, with zeal, even with anger?

But there is a general feeling among MPs that these days, debate has turned to abuse.

That the sheer volume of trolling on Twitter and death threats in emails is out of control.

Figures obtained exclusively by ITV News showing a huge increase in the cost of security for MPs after the murder of Jo Cox last June are testament to the alarm felt by MPs.

Cost of security for MPs between June 2016 and July 2017

They show that an astonishing £3 million has been spent on extra security measures in the last year.

To put that in context, in 2015/16 Parliament spent just £170,000.

Roughly speaking, the amount spent securing MPs' safety has increased 18-fold.

Measures to protect MPs have been stepped up after the murder of Jo Cox. Credit: PA

Examples of what the money is being spent on include:

  • Panic alarms
  • Panic rooms
  • CCTV
  • Reinforced glass windows

Of course, Jo Cox was murdered by an extremist - a terrorist - and that is a separate and terrifying issue.

But the security claims by MPs, which are actually quite cumbersome to submit, show that whether it is murder or abuse, our politicians feel increasingly unsafe.

At least a dozen MPs are this afternoon recounting their own tales of abuse, particularly during the 2017 general election, at a special debate in the Commons.

MPs have been describing the abuse and threats they have suffered. Credit: PA

It has not gone unnoticed that just today, the former Chancellor George Osborne is in the papers for allegedly saying he wants to cut up the Prime Minister into tiny pieces and store her in his freezer.

MPs read and hear the things said about them - the House of Commons isn't as deaf to the outside world as people might portray.

Nobody should go into politics with a thin skin.

You have to be prepared for criticism, to be called a liar, and quite possibly, to be sacked by the electorate.

But MPs clearly feel the level of vitriol is now damaging to our politics. Parliament already struggles to attract people from all walks of life.

Who in their right mind would sign up to become a figure of hatred and abuse?