Memorandum submitted by the Association
of Chief Police Officers in Scotland
Letter to Mr Robert Key MP from the Honorary
Secretary, ACPOs, 15 January 2001
I refer to your letter of 15 December 2000,
relative to the above subject which you sent to William Robertson
and can advise that this matter has been considered by our General
Policing Standing Committee.
Members of the Association previously expressed
concerns regarding a number of areas during compilation of the
document Co-ordinated Policing Protocol between the Ministry
of Defence Police and the Police Forces in Scotland in 1999
Differing operational procedures
between MDP and Scottish Police Forces.
Differing levels of training between
officers from the MDP and Scottish Police Forces.
Differing levels of experience between
officers from MDP and Scottish Police Forces.
Routine carrying of firearms by MDP
After much deliberation and various amendments,
to ensure the final version accurately reflected the Association's
views, an agreed form of wording, acceptable to the Scottish Police
Service, Scottish Executive, Crown Office and the Ministry of
Defence Police was reached culminating in the issue of Police
Circular No 14/1999.
Whilst we accept the points made in the Home
Office proposal document in respect of the expectations of the
public and potential risk of legal proceedings being taken against
MoD officers for failing to take action, concerns had been expressed
in regard to the two main proposals contained in Part One of the
paper. We feel that we should highlight that in cases of immediate
urgency, all citizens, whether or not they have been conferred
with specific legal powers, have a moral duty to take action.
Therefore it is felt action taken in accordance with this duty
is likely to cover a substantial proportion of the "cases
justifying emergency intervention", referred to in the supporting
correspondence. In light of same the question of what constitutes
an emergency would have to be defined in order that Home Department
and MDP forces do not interpret such incidents differently.
The very nature of the work undertaken by MDP
officers differs substantially from that carried out by officers
of Scottish Police Forces and, as a consequence, the training
given to each differs. As a result there is potential for difficulties
to arise, particularly in respect of legal liability for acts
carried out, or not as the case may be, by MDP officers acting
within the jurisdiction and possibly under the direction of officers
from a Scottish Police Force.
In addition the involvement of armed MDP officers
in incidents outwith the confines of MoD owned property gives
rise to further concerns. In particular paragraph 30 of the document
outlines that "MDP officers would use firearms off-base only
at the request of a local force. If MDP officers unexpectedly
came across an incident off-base involving arms, they would not
use their weapons without this prior authority". It is this
latter scenario which causes concern given that, in these circumstances,
it may not be practicable for MDP officers to seek and obtain
the required authority. If this is acknowledged, it will be necessary
to fully explore the implications of self-arming and whether a
policy is required in this respect. The over-riding principle
must be that members of the public and indeed other police officers,
will not be at risk by the armed intervention of MDP officers.
Members expressed similar concerns with regard
to the ancillary proposals contained within Part Two of the documentation.
Therefore we feel it would be appropriate that
the following be given close consideration:
The issue surrounding firearms is
one which requires to be addressed.
The need to carry out joint training
exercises between local forces and MDP officers, particularly
in relation to firearms.
A critical area will be communication
and there must be adequate provision made to enable local forces
and MDP to communicate effectively. The proposed new radio system
due to be introduced may offer an opportunity to greatly improve
communication links and if the proposals to extend the jurisdiction
are adopted then it may be that MDP will require to be part of
The proposals will introduce greater
integration which raises various issues in relation to compatibility
of databases, sharing of information and exchange of intelligence.
To this end strict protocols will be required to achieve an integrated
Agreement and development of a protocol
to determine a command structure. If MDP powers are increased
it could lead to a situation where the MDP officer at locus could
be the senior officer.
Agreement and development of a protocol
to determine precise roles and responsibilities. If MDP officers
arrest a person in the home force area for an offence, is there
an expectation they will continue with the case to conclusion
or hand over to home officers at some stage? In an effort to prevent
confusion it will be important to clarify demarcation.
As MDP cover England, Wales and Scotland,
it is essential their officers are sufficiently trained in police
powers in respect of Scots Law. This is seen as specifically important
to require some form of certified formal training.
In conclusion the Association remains of the
view that it is extremely important that any extension of jurisdiction
and powers is properly managed and controlled to prevent a situation
where we have various forces empowered to lawfully perform duty
in the same area, thereby leading to considerable confusion, ambiguity
and differing working practices which will undoubtedly impact
on service delivery to the public.
I trust the foregoing is of assistance.