THE Scottish Parliament’s head of security has written a letter to all MSPs to remind them of security arrangements after the death of Sir David Amess yesterday.

Following the death of Jo Cox in 2016 the Parliament’s corporate body funded security enhancements to a number of MSPs office based on Police Scotland advice.

Now in light of yesterday's events in Essex, those security enhancements and procedures have been re-iterated to MSPs to help remind them how to stay safe and keep all of their staff protected.

In the letter to MSPs it directly addressed the fatal stabbing of Sir Amess, and issued basic safety advice for MSP’s who meet face-to-face with constituents.

The Herald: Holyrood flags at half mast for Sir David AmessHolyrood flags at half mast for Sir David Amess

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The advice, which listed seven key bullet points, suggested pre-cautionary measures such as setting up seating arrangements like "a table or desk between you and your visitor so this can act as a barrier if necessary" and making sure "the exit is behind you, enabling you to get out of the area quickly if you need to".

It also outlined how the Scottish Parliamernt Corporate Body (SPCB) would fund security upgrades for their offices, in light of any Police Scotland recommendations.

Commenting on the "developing situation", the Scottish Parliament said it was dedicated to keeping their staff safe.

A spokesperson said: “The issue of Members safety is taken extremely seriously, and the Parliament looks regularly at the threats that, regrettably, elected representatives face on a day to day basis.

“Following the death of Jo Cox in 2016 the Parliament’s corporate body funded security enhancements to a number of MSPs office based on Police Scotland advice.

“The Parliament’s Head of Security has written to all MSPs to remind them of the security arrangements in place for their safety and that of their staff.”

Later, Holyrood’s Presiding Officer described the killing of MP Sir David Amess as “an attack on our democracy” and assured MSPs that the parliament will offer them additional security.

Alison Johnstone has written to MSPs in the wake of the “deeply devastating” stabbing of the Conservative MP as he met with constituents in an Essex church.

She pledged that the Scottish Parliament would provide its elected members with any advice and support required and revealed she has spoken to Police Scotland, with the force indicating it will contact MSPs “as a matter of urgency” to discuss security arrangements.

It followed an announcement from the parliament’s corporate body that it would fund any security upgrades at MSPs constituency offices based on police recommendations.

Safety advice for holding surgeries was also reiterated, including sitting behind a table “so this can act as a barrier if necessary” and always letting relatives or colleagues know where they are.

In her letter to members, Ms Johnson wrote: “I know it will have been with a sense of shock and sadness that we learned the news about the death of Sir David Amess MP yesterday.

“Whilst all our thoughts are with Sir David’s family, friends and colleagues, it is understandable that at a time like this we reflect on our own work and the challenges we face.

“Representing our constituents is one of the greatest privileges of being a Member of the Scottish Parliament, but it is one that, sadly, can bring with it threats and fears for the safety of ourselves, our staff and families.”

She added: “As we reflect on the tragic events of the past 24 hours, what is clear to me is the dedication and commitment of all Members of the Scottish Parliament.

“What happened yesterday was an attack on our democracy, but I know we all remain committed to representing the people we serve as best we can.

“And the Parliament will provide the support and advice you need to do that safely.

“I will be in touch with Party leaders and business managers to discuss the Scottish Parliament’s addressing of this deeply devastating event as the first item of business on our return.”

The Herald: Sir David AmessSir David Amess

READ MORE: Tory MP stabbing a terrorist incident as potential 'Islamist extremism' revealed

It comes as the Metropolitan Police confirmed the fatal stabbing has been declared a terrorist incident.

In a statement, the Met said Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, had formally declared the incident as terrorism.

The investigation is being led by counter-terrorism officers.

The early investigation has revealed “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”, the force said.

A 25-year-old man arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder is in custody at an Essex police station.

Official sources told the PA news agency the man is believed to be a British national with Somali heritage.

As part of the investigation, officers were also carrying out searches at two addresses in the London area, the Met said.

Security letter to MSPs in full:

"Dear Members

I am sure you will have read with concern of the death of Sir David Amess earlier today, following a fatal stabbing at his constituency surgery.  This is a developing situation so I will write to you again as we learn more of what happened, and if there is any updated advice and support we can offer in light of this tragic situation.  For now however I thought you may find it helpful to have a reminder of the security arrangements we have in place for your safety and that of your staff. 

The SPCB will fund security upgrades at your constituency or regional office, based on recommendations from Police Scotland.  Please contact me if you need Police Scotland to visit your office premises and undertake a survey and I will make arrangements for this to happen.  We also have lone worker devices available for you and your staff.  Again, please contact me and I will arrange for you to be issued with a device as soon as possible.  Before summer recess, we also issued you with the blue A4 NaCTSO booklet entitled ‘Personal Security’ on behalf of Police Scotland which you may also find helpful. 

Following the death of Jo Cox, we developed advice on security considerations when holding surgeries and reviewed the advice again for the 2021 Election.  You can find more information on safety and security at Scottish Parliment Security App :: Home (  but the information on holding surgeries is extracted below.

Holding surgeries:

If you are attending meetings or holding surgeries in unfamiliar venues, make sure that:

  • Your mobile phone is charged.
  • A relative or work colleague knows where you are, how long you are likely to be and when you will be expected back at home or work.
  • Someone is nearby that you can contact.
  • Consider carrying a lone worker device.

If you are holding a surgery away from your constituency or regional office, these additional simple steps to those noted above may offer further reassurance:

  • Consider using venues where people are close by so you can attract attention if need be.  For example, consider using a supermarket café area where people are always milling about.
  • When setting our your seating arrangement place a table or desk between you and your visitor so this can act as a barrier if necessary.
  • Set up your seating arrangement so the exit is behind you, enabling you to get out of the area quickly if you need to.

As I said at the beginning of this email, this is a developing situation so I will contact you again as soon as I have more information.  However, if I can be of any further assistance over the coming days, please do contact me."