Sir David Amess: St Albans MP reflects on personal safety

St Albans MP Daisy Cooper speaks about personal safety in the wake of Sir David Amess' death.

St Albans MP Daisy Cooper speaks about personal safety in the wake of Sir David Amess' death. - Credit: Daisy Cooper's office

Amid the debate over MPs' security after the daylight stabbing of Sir David Amess, St Albans representative Daisy Cooper has offered a personal insight into politicians' safety.

Speaking exclusively to the Herts Advertiser she explained how as well as being her constituency, St Albans is her home.

“The people who live here aren’t just constituents, they’re also my friends and neighbours. I love being part of our community and I try to be accessible so anyone who needs my help or wants to ask me a question, can.

"I recognise people and they recognise me, and it’s lovely to stop, pass the time of day and have a chat. And, as well as being an MP, I’m a human being. I pop to the shops, I get on the train, I go to the pub.

"So, most of the time I feel safe and at home in St Albans."

Daisy said like most women, she has always taken personal security extremely seriously: "I’m permanently alert to the threat of sexual harassment and male violence, irrespective of where I am.

"Since being elected, I’ve been acutely conscious of the extra risks that come with public life, so I take additional precautions and have security measures in place for me and my staff."

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In light of recent events, she said MPs may feel very differently about the levels and types of personal security they want - or don’t want.

"It could depend on their own circumstances and that of their staff, their gender, any previous violence or threats they’ve previously sustained, and perhaps also how long they’ve been an MP.  

"Different types of events - and crucially whether or not an MP’s presence is announced publicly in advance - will likely require different levels of police protection or personal security."

She added that we must also look at the nature of public debate, as it's well documented online hate can and does feed real-life violence.

"It’s shocking that in 2021, individuals and news corporations can incite hate - in print and online - often with impunity. And that social media platforms have no responsibility to act. It’s high time for independent self-regulation of both press corporations and social media platforms. 

"In St Albans, as in every other place around the UK, there are elected representatives and party political activists of all parties who will likely feel the shock of recent events more viscerally. Together - despite our political differences - it’s these activists, our friends and neighbours, who keep the wheels of democracy turning.

"We need robust public debate, we must hold elected officials to account, and we must ensure that MPs remain accessible to those they represent. There’s no place for hate or abuse, or worse: dehumanising those in public life. We must take action to improve our public debate if we are to protect our democracy.”