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Details of Security Assistance claimed by Jess Phillips
CAS-58094
Disclosure Date:15 Sep 2016
Categories: SECURITY ASSISTANCE
Exemptions Applied: Section 38
Request

I would like to make a Freedom of Information Request with regards to the summary costs of installing the panic room in Labour MP Jess Phillips’ Constituency Office. A basic summary would be appreciated. Additionally I request if there are any associated reports or information that recommended the need for a panic room (or lack of need). I.e Was the erection of a panic room recommended/request by any particular individual, organisation, or government agency, or simply requested by Jess Phillips herself. And if so, for what reasons.

Any information I would be happy to receive in in electronic form to this email address.

 

Response

Security Assistance may be claimed under the MPs’ Scheme of Business Costs and Expenses (‘the Scheme’) for additional security measures that are necessary to enable the MP’s parliamentary functions to be undertaken.

IPSA takes the security of MPs very seriously. We wrote to all MPs earlier this year to inform them of the security support available, which includes security at their home and at constituency offices.

Claims for Security Assistance do not follow the same claims validation process utilised for most other claims made under the Scheme. Instead there is an application process outlined in the security options package issued by IPSA, which were prepared by security experts in the National Counter Terrorism Security Office (NaCTSO) and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI).

The Police consider that a standard package of security measures should be sufficient for most MPs. However, there may be some MPs who have received specific threats that relate to their parliamentary activity. MPs who are ever in this position are advised to immediately contact their local Police Commander. He or she will assess the potential threat in line with nationally-agreed protocols and will then recommend further security measures, if these are necessary, that IPSA will fund.

Due to the sensitive nature of claims for Security Assistance, details of individual claims are not published. However, at the end of each financial year we publish the total figure for claims made during the year. You can find this information on our website via this link

Disclosure of the specific information that you have requested, if held, would be likely to undermine the effectiveness of any security measures recommended by the police, thereby putting the MP and their staff members at further risk. Section 38(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) states that information is exempt from release if its disclosure would or would be likely to endanger the safety of any individual. As such, under Section 38(2) of the FOIA, we can neither confirm nor deny whether or not the information is held.

Although we recognise the public interest in transparency surrounding the publishing of MPs’ expenditure, there is also a strong public interest in ensuring that as an organisation we are able to protect our service users from threats to their safety and maintain the duty of care we have to MPs and their staff. This is also in line with our stated Publication Policy, which states that “we will not publish information which we consider may compromise an MP’s security”. Given recent events and various known threats that have been made against MPs, this is especially true at the current time. In our opinion the public interest in protecting the personal safety of MPs significantly outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information.