Do MPs like Harlow’s Robert Halfon need more protection?

General / Sat 16th Oct 2021 at 11:31am

Opinion Piece

A FEW weeks ago, Harlow MP Robert Halfon was on the Broad Walk in Harlow Town Centre, meeting and discussing constituency issues with residents.

Since being made a candidate in 1999, he is regularly seen there.

Whilst he was there, a small group of marchers campaigning against the proposed Stort Crossing passed by. When they saw him, they were courteous and civil as they discussed his position on the crossing.

However, we later heard, that one person was less than civil, shouting and swearing at the Harlow MP. They were basically a breach of the peace.

This was not the first time.


In 2016, a man admitted sending a tweet in which he said he would “love to shoot” an MP in the head.

Kier Ashby tagged Harlow MP Robert Halfon in the tweet on 23 June – the night of the EU Referendum reports the BBC.

The 21-year-old from Harlow was given a four week prison sentence suspended for one year.

There have clearly been many other times in which they have or have been close to contacting the police.

You get the feeling that we have no idea what abuse an MP like Robert Halfon receives and we should maybe rephrase that and say, what abuse his office receives.

Some offices, like Yvette Cooper MP in Pontefract, recieve over 100 a year.

And we haven’t even started on the volume of antisemitic attacks made on our Jewish MP.

We also know that there are people, whether in written correspondence or on social media, go way way over the score in expressing their hated for the MP or their disappointment regarding the way a piece of caseworker was handled.

There are reports of people screaming in Robert Halfon’s face due to a planning application to going their way.

MPs know how to quote the Protection of Harassment Act, the Malicious Communications Act etc but they hate having to do that. They didn’t get into the job for that. They want an open and free relationship in the way they interact with their constituents.

But they are aware there are some deeply unpleasant people out there who are looking for someone to blame their shortcomings on.. An MP is a perfect target.

Over the past five years, life in this country seems to have come nastier, more vindictive and spiteful. Lockdown has made nasty people even more unpleasant.

We even have reports of Year 7 students losing sports matches in Harlow and sending menacing messages to the winners on social media.

Every week, there are parents being warned about their behaviour at the side of football matches.

Here at YourHarlow, we have had one court case and called the police on another two occasions. We have blocked and banned more people than at any other time since starting digital publications in 2008.

We are also sure that GP receptionists, nurses at A and E and many other people working on the front line, will say “welcome to my world”.

You may say “twas ever thus” and perhaps you are right but at the moment, it just feels different.

In conclusion, it would be a damning indictment on society if the MP needed police protection as he undertakes his constituency duties whether at surgeries or on walkabouts in town.

But there are a lot of people who need a long long hard look at themselves as to the way they conduct themselves.

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9 Comments for Do MPs like Harlow’s Robert Halfon need more protection?:

2021-10-16 16:55:40

Alfter what happened yesterday with David smess we should have more protection for our MPs when they have these Meetings or they call them surgery’s now. I think he does a good job.

Graham von Haartman
2021-10-17 00:37:03

In my view Robert has been and hopefully will continue to be a very approachable MP and is an asset to the town and district of Harlow whenever I have spoken to him listens and takes ones opinions wether or not he agrees with them he is the kind of man that uses these opinions from the public to build a foundation to work on.

2021-10-17 08:52:29

I do not have a problem with them having private security as long as they are paying for it out of the salary they receive and NOT claiming it back on expenses.

2021-10-17 09:32:40

Yes, it would be an idea for Robert to think about a higher level of protection for himself. He is very accessible. I recently did have the chance to speak to him while on the march relating to proposed Central and Eastern crossing of the Stort. We happened to pass him on our route. That campaign is non-political. However, I was standing next to Robert when someone chose to speak to him far less than civilly. I was embarrassed by it, frankly. Robert was well able to handle it, and I made sure to thank Robert for his contribution to to the life of the town, although his politics are not mine. However, with the hindsight of the death of poor David Amess MP, I believe Robert is too exposed to people with unknown levels of hatred or mental disturbance. All credit to him for forging ahead with his constituency work, but it’s becoming apparent that safety is a serious issue.

2021-10-17 16:36:07

What about the homeless

2021-10-18 17:23:30

100% regardless of who you support they all need protection from these terrorist They are only doing there job

2021-10-18 17:24:03

100% regardless of who you support they all need protection from these terrorist They are only doing there job

Pauras Kolah
2021-10-22 10:43:04

Yes ALL MPs need more protection. But there are some interesting questions. Why not have Zoom meetings, just like business meetings? You will still have accessibility and the issue MUST be to resolve problems. Private meetings can be held later in more secure locations such as the House of Commons (where applicable/feasible). Even, with permission, and where appropriate where issues deal with wider causes, make the Zoom MP meetings public so that there is openness and transparency. Is this the way forward? Who knows. Just a thought!

2021-10-27 06:17:34

Robert is always out and about in the town is so dedicated to represent .this is a celebration of our democracy and we should not loose this regardless of political bias .Zoom is ok but many people do not use of have access to the internet remember ! Robert and all MPs should be protected but this needs to be workable affordable and not a barrier to access .Robert is clearly passionate about being out there with Harlow and listening !!

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