By Kirsty Topping
SECURITY guards at the Scottish Parliament have been issued with stab vests costing thousands of pounds – even though there has never been an attack in the building.
Bosses at Holyrood have forked out £34,500 to kit out the 90 staff with gear but have said they only have to wear it while on duty at the main access points.
Officials said the move was “precautionary but prudent”.
But Independent MSP Margo MacDonald slammed the spending, asking why is was deemed necessary when the parliament had been trouble-free for a decade.
She said: “No one is more appreciative of the security staff in the parliament than I am. They do an absolutely wonderful job and in many respects they are under-appreciated.
“Any measure to make their job safer or more pleasant I would support, but I would expect to see a risk analysis of why this is happening after the parliament has been going for more than 10 years.
“There are better things the money could be spent on.”
While the parliament said 1124 blades, the majority of them penknives, had been taken from visitors last year, they admitted that there had never been a stabbing incident.
A spokeswoman said: “There has been a review of security best practice and this is the time at which parliament has decided it is appropriate to do this.”
She said that security guards would wear the vests when they were at the main public entrance or at the entry to the underground car park on Holyrood Road.
“Once people have been through the airport-style security screening, there is an assumption there is nothing untoward on them,” she continued.
“This is about the parliament’s duty of care to staff in areas of work where they are considered more exposed to risk.”
Previously MI5 has recommended the parliament install expensive security measures such as turnstiles, concrete bollards and benches, as well as the introduction of a screening hall for visitors.
However, the recommendation of stab vests is not thought to have been recommended by the security service.
The parliament spokeswoman said: “We constantly monitor and review our security measures. This is a preventative and prudent measure.”