Councillors to be given satellite-tracked panic buttons
Councillors in East Lothian are believed to be the first in Scotland to be equipped with satellite-tracked panic buttons in the wake of the death of MP Jo Cox.
The 23 councillors of East Lothian Council will be given alarms linked to a tracking system capable of pinpointing their exact location.
It is thought to be the first time in the country that a group of elected politicians have opted to use the alarms, which will send a distress call to police.
The radical step comes after West Yorkshire MP Jo Cox died in an alleged gun and knife attack in June.
Councillors have also decided to act after a recent meeting was interrupted by a particularly aggressive member of the public.
Under the new health and safety rules from East Lothian Council, representatives will be kitted out with the alarms, which are also used by NHS employees who work alone.
It is understood that the council looked into the safety of councillors who often attend community surgeries alone following the death of MP Jo Cox on 16 June.
A council spokesman said: “In the wake of the tragic death of MP Jo Cox, it was decided that this was a prudent health and safety move, along with issuing safety guidance to our councillors.
“We are renting these alarms via the NHS procurement framework as they use these alarms for all of their lone workers.
“The alarms will be GPS tracked so that, once activated, the company that monitors them would be able to alert police to the exact location of the alert. The cost will be approximately £2,500 annually, which will be met from our existing budget.”
Council leader Willie Innes said the number of times he had faced a situation which may have turned violent was “miniscule” but it was vital for councillors to meet the public in a safe environment.
Councillor Stuart Currie, leader of the council’s SNP opposition, said the move was important for “peace of mind”.
He added: “I hold my surgeries in a busy place but others are in rural locations, often on their own.
“We would not expect council staff to go on their own to meetings, and it is right we take the same preventative measures for councillors.”