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Protecting our democratic way of life.

Aug 1, 2010
With the recent assassination of a much loved United Kingdom Member of Parliament, the threat to parliamentarians has become more intensified. Throughout recent years, members of the public have shown their displeasure at the way the government has been running the country, by physically attacking their representatives. Some of these attacks have occurred within constituency surgeries, others have happened on the street.

According to reports by the BBC (1), many MPs have indicated that they have been threatened, and some have specified that they have actually been attacked. Knives, hammers and even air rifles have been used to attack our elected officials. In January 2000, the Member of Parliament for Cheltenham, Lib Dem MP Nigel Jones was attacked with a samurai sword, resulting in the death of his aide. In May 2010, East London Labour MP Stephen Timms was stabbed twice. Although both survived their attacks, it should have been obvious, that more protection should be provided to our elected representatives.

Whilst MPs are protected within the houses of parliament, they are forced to interact with the public on a one to one basis within their constituencies. The interaction between MPs and constituents is a key component of UK democracy, and will only remain so, if these Members of Parliament can be protected. This interaction should not mean that MPs’ have to put their lives on the line with each and every meeting.

Providing parliamentary members with twenty-four-hour police protection, would be prohibitively expensive in a time of austerity, and may inhibit the flow of information from members of the public to their elected representatives. As a way of protecting these officials, the close protection industry might be in a position to step in, where the use of police personnel would be inappropriate.

Providing these representatives of democracy, with close protection personnel, may provide a level of safety when it is needed. These well trained, vigilant and discrete officers, would be able to detect potential threats, before problems occurred. As these officers are thoroughly trained to detect threats, and then to avoid them, they are ideal personnel to provide support to the democratic process.

The democratic process used within the United Kingdom is highly valued. The interactions between the public and their representatives is key to the administration of this land, and it will only remain so, if our security industry is able to work with, and support the United Kingdom’s security services. In order to provide security and protection to these MPs, the use of body guards may be a step in the right direction.

(1) MP's killing raises questions about security - BBC News
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