SO17 Palace of Westminster

SO17 works with the Parliamentary Authorities to provide a safe and accessible environment for Peers, Members of Parliament, employees and the public by:

  • Patrolling the Palace of Westminster.
  • Monitoring and checking identity passes.
  • Controlling access to the Estate
  • Conducting searches of visitors, staff, personal property and vehicles.
  • Maintaining public order so the business of the Houses is not disrupted.
  • Introducing security measures to minimise opportunity for crime.
  • Providing crime prevention, security and personal safety advice to members and staff.
  • Monitoring closed circuit television, alarms and police communications.
  • Responding to incidents and alarms.

Who we are

The Palace of Westminster has been a Royal Palace since the eleventh century. It covers eight acres of ground and has a perimeter of over three kilometers.

There are eight buildings in addition to the heritage site occupied by staff, Members and Peers.

On any working day there may be upwards of 5,000 people working on the Estate and there are over a million visitors each year.
The two administrative authorities that are jointly responsible for the day to day running of the Estate are the Serjeant at Arms (House of Commons) and Black Rod (House of Lords).

UK Constituents have a constitutional right of access to both Houses whilst they are in session to lobby their MP or observe proceedings from the public galleries. There are also private and ‘pay to view’ tours of the Houses of Parliament when they are not in session.

The Metropolitan Police Service has been protecting and keeping order on the Parliamentary Estate since 1839. They are contracted to the House Authorities and provide to policing services through a Special Service Agreement.

What we do

A team of over 500 people, which includes police officers and police staff security, work on the Parliamentary Estate and provide round the clock security every day of the year.

Officers and staff patrol the building and its grounds and control access of people and vehicles onto the Estate. There is a dedicated search wing, trained to conduct counter-terrorism searches.

SO17 has its own Investigation and Intelligence unit, which investigates the majority of reported crime and undertakes sensitive enquiries requiring liaison with government departments, embassies and other constabularies.

SO17 works closely with the Parliamentary Security Director, who is employed by the Houses of Parliament and who is ultimately responsible for making recommendations to the Joint Committee on Security. This body is made up of prominent Members of both Houses.

Police and security officers assist in providing the security for historic and traditional ceremonial occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament.