Northern Ireland

PSNI to provide Stormont MLAs with security training amid safety concerns

The training will take place next month

Police have named a man who died at the scene of a three-car collision
The PSNI will carry out personal security training for MLAs next month (Niall Carson/PA)

The PSNI is to deliver security training to MLAs next month amid raised concerns for their safety.

The Assembly Commission said it will include the “provision of advice on personal security and lone walking” and members can also request surveys of their homes and constituency offices.

The statement came in response to a written Assembly question by DUP MLA Maurice Bradley, in which he asked the Assembly Commission “whether there are any plans to carry out a review of security across all constituency offices”.

DUP MLA Maurice Bradley. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

“Staff need to feel safe and protected within their working environment and that was the thinking when I asked the Assembly Commission to review security at all constituency offices where staff are employed, " he told the Belfast Telegraph.

“Whilst my office is in a safe environment, in a busy main street surrounded by businesses and cafes, not everyone is fortunate to be in this position.”

Just last month UK Justice Minister Mike Freer was subjected to a series of death threats and an alleged arson attack on his constituency office, while the home of Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood was also targeted recently by pro-Palestinian protesters.

In 2016, Labour MP Jo Cox was stabbed to death and Conservative MP Sir David Amess was killed in 2021.

In response to the Assembly question, a statement said: “The security of members is something the Assembly Commission takes extremely seriously and was on the agenda of recent meetings before the Assembly Commission was reconstituted.

“The PSNI have historically taken the lead in terms of personal security and crime prevention advice, and they have provided this on an individual basis to members upon request.

“This has included carrying out survey visits to constituency offices, and the provision of advice and recommendations relative to personal and physical security measures.”

The statement added that the PSNI chief constable Jon Boutcher had been contacted in December to “highlight further concerns raised by some members regarding their personal security and that of constituency office staff and enquired as to what more might be done by PSNI by way of advice and guidance, and whether PSNI would be in a position to offer the provision of further security surveys at constituency offices and Members private dwellings.

Chief Constable Jon Boutcher
PSNI chief constable Jon Boutcher. PICTURE; LIAM MCBURNEY/PA

“The chief constable subsequently confirmed that PSNI would take this forward, and personal security training for members will now be provided by the PSNI in Parliament Buildings on April 30 2024 for members and their staff,” the statement added.

“This will include the provision of advice on personal security and lone walking and will also provide an opportunity for members only to directly request surveys of their constituency offices and homes.

“The PSNI advise that a number of surveys have already been carried out by members’ request.”