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Select Committee on Armed Forces Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 340 - 344)

TUESDAY 23 JANUARY 2001

MR BARRY MILLER, MR HUMPHREY MORRISON, COMMODORE BARRY BRYANT, BRIGADIER NICK COTTAM, AIR COMMODORE RICK CHARLES, BRIGADIER DAVID HOWELL, COMMODORE JEFF BLACKETT, AIR COMMODORE ANDY COLLIER, MR PAUL CROWTHER AND MR DAVID WOODHEAD

  340. Perhaps you could examine that. Secondly, if an MDP officer, whether he is armed or not, stops in order to carry out something that is his duty, as this Bill envisages he may want to carry it out, how will he identify himself as being a member of the Ministry of Defence Police? How will he do that to the public? What do you believe the consequence of that might be?
  (Mr Miller) The clause actually says that either he is responding to a request from a policeman or, if he is doing so on reasonable grounds, etcetera, when there is no civil policeman available, then he must either be in uniform or carry evidence or possess evidence that he is a member of the Ministry of Defence Police force.

  341. That is not quite what I asked. Will he actually announce himself to civilians, if he stops on the roadside and sees something occurring? Will he actually announce himself as a Ministry of Defence policeman as opposed to a civil force policeman or a Metropolitan Police officer or whatever?
  (Mr Crowther) I think that would depend upon the circumstances of the occasion, and how much time he had available in order to do so. In most circumstances, he would certainly be in uniform.

  342. As to the uniform, as we all know, between an MDP policeman and a Home Office policeman, I am not sure that we would all recognise that in a dark, badly-lit rural area in the middle of Herefordshire or wherever. Lastly, you mentioned communication problems. Are you absolutely convinced that the communication of vehicles, either already travelling, or proposed to be travelling, between bases, will be such that those vehicles will be able to communicate effectively with the Home Office force? I have to tell you that in deeply rural areas already vehicles of the same police force sometimes find it very difficult to communicate with each other.
  (Mr Crowther) I can only say that I have travelled with an area policing team of the Ministry of Defence Police at Aldershot in their vehicle and have seen for myself that they were on net with the local Home Department constabulary.

  343. So you do not envisage any communications problems at all between MDP vehicles and Home Department police vehicles operating in the same area?
  (Mr Crowther) I think the situation will be greatly improved when the PSRCS system is in place, but there is sufficient radio communication at present, and they use it on a frequent basis.

  Chairman: Thank you. As it is now 12.57, can I suggest that we adjourn the Committee's proceedings at this point. There will be the opportunity to pursue further questions on Clause 31 and, indeed, Clause 32 and the subsequent clauses.

Mr Davies

  344. This will also have the additional advantage that Mr Crowther might be able to recall some of the incidences that have given rise to the conclusion that the present powers are inadequate.
  (Mr Crowther) Madam Chairman, might I add a further sentence on that point. I can myself recall a fairly significant number of occasions when MDP officers have got themselves into difficulties in these circumstances. My diffidence arose only from not wishing to put on record details where my memory might be imperfect, so I think it would be much easier if we produced a note on this.[6]

  Chairman: Thank you very much, Mr Crowther, that is on the record. We will look forward to continuing our investigation of this matter on Thursday morning. The public meeting will reconvene at 10.30 am on Thursday. Thank you very much indeed for your presence this morning.





6   See Appendix 6. Back


 
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