The Murder of David Amess and the Threats Politicians Face-min

The Murder of David Amess and the Threats Politicians Face

The recent murder of British Member of Parliament David Amess has caused lawmakers to reconsider their own safety. Amess, who represented Southend West in Essex and was one of the longest-serving MPS, was stabbed to death at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday, October 15, where he was meeting with constituents.

Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old with alleged links to ISIS, has been charged with murder and with the preparation of terrorist acts. As of now, it appears Ali did not target Amess for his political views, but simply because he was an MP. He had allegedly been planning the murder of an MP for two years.

The contentious and often violent rhetoric pumped into societal discourse by social media is a driving force behind attacks of this kind. Even if an attacker does not telegraph their intentions over social media, spikes in aggressive chatter and conspiracy theories can drive unstable people to “take matters into their own hands.” Pizzagate and the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh are two examples of such outcomes. 

Calls for Increased Security for MPs

Following the stabbing, Home Secretary Priti Patel spoke to the House of Commons and said that the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) had elevated the threat level against MPs to “substantial” and they must all heighten awareness against threats.

Patel urged MPs to take advantage of the security services offered by Operation Bridger, a national police effort dedicated to MP security. Operation Bridger was launched following the murder of MP Jo Cox in 2016. Cox was shot and stabbed multiple times in the village of Birstall, where she was scheduled to hold a constituency meeting. Following her murder, security for MPs was ramped up. They were offered panic buttons, additional locks, emergency fobs, and more for their homes and constituency offices.

But after five years, awareness waned and the threat level for MPs was no longer deemed severe. Following the death of Amess, a renewed effort is being made. Patel and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, in a joint letter to MPs, have offered trained security protection when meeting with constituents.

Private Security Services Available

While concern for the safety of British MPs is fairly high at this point, the unfortunate truth is that people who hold public office in any country usually face a higher security risk than those who do not. For that reason, every country has its own security protocols for those in public positions. 

At this point, UK security services are increasing their availability for MP protection, but Amess’ murder should be a wake-up call to public figures in countries around the world. As long as they hold public-facing positions, they must consider extra security measures to protect themselves. 

Governments, while providing a certain amount of protection, do not always have the bandwidth and budget to offer the maximum. This is why private security companies like Interfor International exist. Interfor is a veteran in the world of security and offers physical security services, including Vulnerability Assessment, Threat Intelligence, and Threat Monitoring. 

Interfor’s services are currently utilized by several U.S. politicians and other international, high-profile figures who recognize the need for a higher level of security. Though based in New York, Interfor International works with clients from around the world. To learn more about our services, we can be reached here