Region's MPs say their approach to work won't change in the wake of fatal stabbing of MP Sir David Amess

There has been much discussion of the security of MPs over the weekend in the wake of the fatal stabbing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess.

By Corinne Macdonald
Monday, 18th October 2021, 3:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 8:54 am
Robert Goodwill, left, and Kevin Hollinrake, right. (JPI Media/ Richard Ponter)
Robert Goodwill, left, and Kevin Hollinrake, right. (JPI Media/ Richard Ponter)

However, MPs Robert Goodwill and Kevin Hollinrake, from this area, have said they intent to approach their work as normal.

Sir David, 69, MP for Southend West, was stabbed as he met constituents at a regular surgery in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday October 15.

An air ambulance and paramedics attended the incident but Mr Amess died at the scene.

A tribute to Sir David Amess outside Parliament. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Since the tragedy several MPs have spoken out about the abuse they have received online, and the House of Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has said we must ensure MPs are protected.

Robert Goodwill, MP for Scarborough and Whitby, said the police have been in touch with him but that he will continue as usual.

Mr Goodwill explained he has never offered walk up surgeries as it would be difficult to predict numbers or wait times for constituents.

Instead his team schedules surgery meetings and already require an address that is checked against the electoral register to avoid constituents from neighbouring places such as Filey, Hunmanby and Staxton contacting the wrong MP.

He said: "Often when people ring for an appointment we can look into the issue straight away so people don't need to wait for their benefits or housing issues etc to be addressed.

"This is bread and butter for my staff who have lots of experience and know how to deal with these issues.

"During Covid I have been speaking to many constituents over the phone which has proven safe and convenient. Unlike a doctor, I don't have to actually examine patients during the consultation!"

Mr Goodwill added that he receives a lot of communication from his constituents via email and still some handwritten letters.

"I like to think I am the most accessible MP in Yorkshire and the current security situation will not change that," he said.

Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Thirsk and Malton whose constituency includes Filey and Hunmanby, also said he would carry on as he usually does.

Mr Hollinrake said: "I've never felt threatened at a surgery. Online people think it's ok to send abuse but I've never felt seriously threatened at all in my work."

The MP, who knew Sir David Amess well, said there may be more cautions in place to protect himself and his staff but that 'we've got to carry on'.

"Other than [extra precautions] we've got to carry on.

"This is an awful, isolated incident that is devastating for the family and friends of David."

Currently, most MPs do not get close protection while in their constituencies, but security was increased following the killing of MP Jo Cox in 2016 when she was shot and stabbed in her constituency.

All MPs were offered panic buttons, extra lighting, additional locks and emergency fobs at their homes and constituency offices.

North Yorkshire Police have said in light of the tragic attack on Sir David, every MP will be contacted individually by Operation Bridger representatives in their local force to discuss their security arrangements, and to ensure they are aware of all advice pertaining to their personal safety and security.

A North Yorkshire Police spokesman said: “Members of Parliament from North Yorkshire and the City of York have been contacted as part of Operation Bridger which provides tactical options for protective physical security in their constituencies.

"This is managed by the Parliamentary Liaison and Investigation Team that was formed in 2016 following the murder of Jo Cox, the MP for Batley and Spen.

“In order to help protect themselves, their family and staff members, and their constituents while attending surgeries, we are advising our MPs to report any security concerns without delay.

"North Yorkshire Police will continue to review the security advice on a regular basis, based on an assessment of changing threats and risk.”