Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage says it was ‘sobering’ seeing security services fitting panic alarm in her home as politicians living in fear of attack open up

WATCHING security service personnel fitting a panic alarm in her bedroom was a ‘sobering moment’, health minister Caroline Dinenage has admitted.

Sunday, 10th March 2019, 8:43 am
Updated Sunday, 10th March 2019, 10:00 am
Caroline Dinenage, Gosport MP, has spoken about how she has had to take extra security steps amid fears from MPs that they are being increasingly attacked by racists and thugs. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

The Gosport MP’s revelation came as fresh figures revealed how frightened MPs from across the nation were increasingly being targeted by thugs, abused by online trolls and even attacked in the street.

In the past year, the Parliamentary Liaison and Investigations team, established by the Met Police following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016, has seen a sharp rise in complaints from fearful parliamentarians.

It comes as The News today unveils the vile torrent of abuse faced by the area’s politicians with MPs having been sent death threats online and sickening racial slurs.

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Ms Dinenage said she has not been physically attacked but said: ‘When security forces installed a panic alarm next to my bed it was a slightly sobering moment,’ adding she and her staff had been inundated with hate-filled emails

‘Threatening or abusive behaviour is always abhorrent, regardless of the target,’ she said. ‘It does concern me as an MP and no doubt deters others from coming forward to represent their communities.’

Since the Parliamentary Liaison and Investigations team was set up, the unit has received 558 complaints with a huge increase marked in the past year.

Among the reports include four of assault occasioning actual bodily harm, four of common assault, 41 of harassment, and 379 complaints of malicious communications.

There were five bomb threats or hoaxes against MPs and seven instances of hoax noxious powder being sent to parliamentarians.

The unit has received four reports of trespass, 20 regarding criminal damage, and 88 allegations of theft.

Among those to be abused by the public was Fareham MP Suella Braverman.

Racist yobs have taken to threatening the former Brexit minister and her staff, forcing her to take both personal and legal action.

‘Sadly I have received racist messages from people who disagree with my stance on Brexit,’ said the Eurosceptic mother-to-be. ‘In addition, members of the public have behaved in an aggressive manner at my public events, citing their opposition to my political views, and intimidating my staff.

‘On social media I’ve had to block trolls who use abusive language. And sadly my staff have reported members of the public to the police who have been harassing them.’

The increase in complaints made by MPs to the new police unit was revealed by BuzzFeed News following a Freedom of Information request.

In the Westminster police squad’s first year of operation, between August 2016 and July 2017, the Met team received 102 complaints. In the year and a half since then, 456 reports were made.

Mrs Braverman said: ‘I think you need a thick skin for politics. I welcome healthy debate and don’t take it personally. But racist language is unacceptable.’