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Going through security - guidance for visitors with autism

Parliament is open to the public but, because of the crucial work that goes on here, your security and safety are very important.

going through secuirty.jpg

Just like all visitors, you must go through security checks when entering the building. These checks are similar to the ones that are being done at airports.

Security officers

Security officerSecurity Officers will be there to explain what is happening in more detail if you are concerned about the whole process.

Some Police Officers at Parliament carry guns. They carry these to keep everyone safe. These would only be used in an emergency.

Banned items

There are some things you are not allowed to bring into the buildings. The link below talks about security to the parliamentary estate.

You cannot bring in sharp items like knives, scissors, and screwdrivers. You must not bring in paint spray, or padlocks, chains, ropes or climbing gear. This stops people chaining themselves to railings in the buildings if they are part of a protest group.

You cannot bring in any items that can be used to make a loud noise like whistles. 

The security team will check to see what you have, when you arrive, and will ask you to surrender items if they are not allowed. If the item belonging to you is surrendered it will be kept safely, and you can collect it from the security area when you leave.

Help getting through security

Visitor Assistants at the entrance of the Palace of WestminsterIt can also be arranged for one of Parliament’s friendly Visitor Assistants to meet you outside and take you through security and onto your destination inside.

This should be arranged in advance by emailing Visitor Services or calling 020 7219 4114.

How long does it take?

You should leave plenty of time to pass through security. You should expect this to take at least 20 minutes.

At busy times the delay could be longer. Generally, busiest times are Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 4pm and 7pm and all day Saturdays (particularly in the Summer).

Cromwell Green Entrance

Ramp at the Cromwell Green entrance to the Palace of WestminsterFor most visits to the Houses of Parliament you will enter through Cromwell Green entrance. It is opposite the back of Westminster Abbey.

There is a glass hut with some Visitor Assistants and Police Officers outside it, and a walkway leading down to the security area.

What information do I need to have with me?

You will be met at the entrance by a member of staff. Often the first person you will meet will be a Visitor Assistant. Sometimes you may be met by a Police Officer.

The first person you will meet will ask you what type of visit you are making. They ask this because there are many different types of visits to Parliament and they want to ensure they know exactly how to help you.

Some of these visits require tickets or invitations to get into the building. If you have a ticket or an invitation, you need to present them to a member of staff. After talking to the staff at the entrance you will go down the walkway in the picture above and into security. The walkway has glass sides.  There can be queues of people in this area.

If you have difficulty queueing, you can email the Serjeant at Arms Office or call on 0207 219 3050 before your visit to see if you can be allowed to go through faster.

Visitor security passes

Visitors security passAt the bottom of the walkway, you will be given a visitor’s security pass which should be worn around your neck or displayed with a clip attached to your clothing or a belt throughout the visit. 

Once inside the security building, you will be given instructions on what to do. There is very bright lighting in here.

If you wear sunglasses or similar, you may be asked to take these off whilst in this area. It will help if the security team knows you are wearing sunglasses etc. for medical reasons. You should let the security team know if you would like any companion to stay with you.

The security team will attach a paper visitor’s pass onto a lanyard. You will then be asked to put your coat and bags in a tray to go through an x-ray machine. You may be asked to put scarves and jackets into the tray too.

You will also have to put into the tray metallic items like belts, keys, coins, metal necklaces, bracelets and mobile devices. You will get the items back once the team has checked them. 

Metal detectors

Metal detectorsYou will then go through a doorway-shaped metal detector, which will check if you have any other metals on your body.

If there are any metals on your body the detector will make a buzzing sound. If this happens, a Security Officer will have to pat you down through your clothes or maybe wave a hand-held metal detector around your body to discover what set the alarm off.

This security area may be difficult for individuals with Autism. It is a strict procedure that cannot be altered and is to make sure everyone coming into Parliament is safe.

You can let the Security Officers know if you wish to be searched in a private area which will be quieter and away from other people. The officer doing the patting-down will be the same gender as you and you can have a companion with you at all times.

Running late

If you are running late you can phone ahead to let Parliament know of any delays on 020 7219 4114.

It might be possible for you to be fast tracked through security to ensure you meet up with your tour, function, or meeting.