Is the safety of our MPs protected enough and should face-to-face meetings continue?

Members across the political spectrum have vowed to continue meeting voters in their constituencies, as David Wood reports

At the back of MPs minds pretty much every day is the increasingly difficult balance between their ambition, and in many cases, their feeling of duty to be seen by their constituents and in their constituency against the risks to their safety.

In Parliament and government buildings armed guards patrol and security checks take place when people arrive, at their homes there are options for enhanced security but when they're in their constituencies and running surgeries there is none of this.

The death of Sir David Amess during a constituency surgery has brought these fears to the forefront of MPs' thoughts. Many are shaken, grieving and fearful.

ITV News Political Correspondent David Wood outlines what safety measures have been taken in the aftermath of Sir Davis Amess' death

Since Sir David's death all MPs have been contacted by security officials or the police to discuss how they stay safe and the Home Secretary has told all police forces to review security arrangements from MPs when away from Parliament.

MPs are their constituents' representatives in Parliament, whether they voted for them or not, and the most fundamental and basic part of their role means they need to meet their communities to understand what they want and need.

After the death of Sir David Amess one Tory MP, Tobias Ellwood has called for face to face surgeries with constituents to be suspended until the police reviews into security take place.

During the Covid lockdown's MPs surgeries and community events all took place online, so they have experience of meeting constituents remotely, but many don't believe that is good enough.

On Saturday Conservative MP Stuart Andrew said despite feeling "anxious" he would still be holding his surgery this morning.

He wrote: "The events of the past 24 hours have made me feel anxious naturally, but I'm determined not to let that deter me from my duty".

Richard Graham, Conservative MP for Gloucester, said "democracy is physical engagement and that goes on".

He referenced the deaths of "PC Palmer, Rev J Suddards Jo Cox and others" as he said "public life has risks".MP for Bournemouth West, Conor Burns, said politicians continuing with their jobs is "the greatest tribute" to Sir David.

The House of Commons' longest serving female MP, Labour's Harriet Harman, says there should now be a Speaker's conference to bring together MPs, security services and the police to discuss news ways to keep politicians safe whilst working in their constituency. 

Such an event would be a once in a decade event.

"We can't simply say its business as usual," said Ms Harman.

What needs to happen to keep MPs safe on the job?

"It's is a rare procedure, once every ten years where the speaker gets all parties together of MPs all around the House of Commons, with the security services and the government, to discuss that very important balance between accessibility and safety," Ms Harman said.

Over the past few years most MPs have become more and more used to dealing with threats from members of the public, and in many cases death threats.

This is nothing new, but it is becoming increasingly common for pretty much all parliamentarians.

The killing of Sir David Amess will mean all of this will be reviewed as MPs desperate to keep face to face contact with all their constituencies struggle to maintain the balance between doing that and keeping themselves and their staff safe.