Examination of Witnesses (Questions 600
TUESDAY 30 JANUARY 2001
600. Between the Ministry of Defence Police
Act of 1987 and the previous Armed Forces Bill in 1996 many changes
took place and more changes have taken place since then. Perhaps
I can explore how things have settled down for the Ministry of
Defence police because your work is extremely important, and indeed
vital to the security of defence establishments, and you went
through a period of unprecedented change when you saw your numbers
drop. First, you were created in the Bill, and given new powers
and then we saw your numbers cut and no one seemed quite sure
what was happening; some of your jobs were taken by, for example,
the Military Provost Guard Service and the Ministry of Defence
Guard Service. We have seen the introduction of area policing
teams, which in my constituency have drawn a lot of Ministry of
Defence police from Land Command at Wilton, for example. How are
those relationships now working out between yourselves and the
other guard services?
(Mr Trickey) In the early days it would be wrong of
us to say that we did not have problems. There were some territorial
problems, but in the main we do not have major problems at all.
We work quite well with them, especially taking into account,
for example, in your constituency the fact that we have a unit
beat officer who works more or less hand in glove with them and
they think the world of him for doing his job. He is very professional.
Also the Ministry of Defence police force has come a long way
in its professionalism and its approach. We support all the changes
that have gone on.
601. I can certainly endorse that from my constituency's
perspective. I want to put on record my thanks for the professional
way in which you not only look after a lot of very sensitive establishments,
including Porton Down and Boscombe Down, but also assist local
police in a practical way. However, you do something else. I believe
you have 56 volunteers in Kosovo at the moment.
(Mr Trickey) Yes.
602. Am I right in saying that technically the
Ministry of Defence police have no jurisdiction outside the United
(Mr Trickey) No, they have not. They are under contract
to the United Nations. In answer to your point about them not
being able to search lorries, they have no powers to because it
is a UN directive.
603. Effectively and in no derogatory sense
whatever, in international legal terms they are acting as mercenaries.
(Mr Trickey) I would not go so far as to say that.
I would prefer to say that they are carrying out a policing job
604. They are certainly doing a very good policing
job. I have seen them. In terms of the protection of your colleagues,
do they have adequate legal protection in Kosovo? Can the United
NationsUNMIK is the entity responsible for the international
policinggive adequate protection to your officers physically
(Mr Trickey) As far as we are aware they have. We
have checked with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. They are
covered. We have had three officers who have been taken ill in
Kosovo and they have been transported within 24 hours back to
the UK. So at present we have no cases on record and we have no
complaint. As far as we have been led to understand, they are
605. Once again, our thanks for what they are
doing out there. It illustrates and endorses your point that the
Ministry of Defence police have higher aspirations than a decade
ago and they have achieved more than they were achieving a decade
ago. This Bill gives you further jurisdiction powers. It seems
to me that the provision in Clause 6 to extend Schedule 1 of the
Police and Criminal Evidence Act is crucial to the extent of that
jurisdiction because it will give you much more legal cover for
what you are doing. Is that right?
(Mr Trickey) Yes.
606. Technically, under that Act you could be
investigating something under the Official Secrets Act and have
proper protection that you did not have before.
(Mr Trickey) That is correct.
607. Is it the case that, as with the Home Office
police force, one of your colleagues may investigate an Official
Secrets Act case and come across something quite different in
the home of the suspect, and you would be able to pursue that?
If you discovered that he was in illegal possession of firearms,
for example, because a shotgun was found on a bench, you could
pursue that as well in a wide-ranging way.
(Mr Trickey) Bearing in mind the difference in the
legal position in England and in Scotland, as ACPOS said, in Scotland
he would have to stop, preserve the evidence and probably get
another search warrant, but in England he could probably do that.
608. In relation to patrolling and how you do
it, can you describe the kind of vehicles that Ministry of Defence
police use for going between military bases? Do they look like
(Mr Cullen) The livery is identical. The cars of most
police forces differ but yes, they are properly marked police
vehicles. They have a proper livery on them and they are kitted
out with the proper equipment.
609. Are you aware of the new Military Provost
Guard Service vehicles that also look like police cars, but which
actually say, `Armed Security Service' down the side? Have you
(Mr Trickey) I have seen them at Wilton.
610. So have I.
(Mr Trickey) That is the only one I have seen.
611. You do not think the fact that there are
so many forces, some of them police forces and some military forces,
will be confusing for the public?
(Mr Trickey) The vehicle that I saw at Wilton looked
more like a paramedic vehicle than a police vehicle. I do not
think that there will be much confusion because they have two
totally different colour schemes.
612. How do you think the standing arrangements
at a high level, of which we have heard so much elsewhere, will
work out? We have heard from ACPOS that they perceive it to be
a matter of a significant number of different protocols, addressing
different forces in different areas. Do you see standing arrangements
at a high level meaning that each police force is likely to come
to an agreement with Ministry of Defence police that they will
carry out functions that previously they would not have carried
out? In other words, do you see them being part of standard police
patrols of an area during any shift, such that one of the cars
may be a Ministry of Defence police car?
(Mr Trickey) In the broader sphere, I would imagine
that ACPO and ACPOS would have a large say, but that there would
be some material matters, such as classified security convoys,
that would be devolved down to local divisions. So I would agree
with ACPOS in that respect. Do not forget that one must bear in
mind that primacy in all cases would remain with the chief constable
of the local area, first and foremost.
613. You have given some examples of practical
reasons why you are in favour of changes in relation to the limits
on your powers. Do you think that the present limits on powers
leads to an image problem? We have talked about the civil police
who do not have the regard that perhaps they should have for military
police. Do you think that is because you lack those powers, and
therefore you are not seen as such a high quality as the civil
police? Do you think that that affects morale?
(Mr Cullen) Certainly. We have highly trained and
highly motivated officers in our force. When they come across
an incident on a highway while travelling from one location to
another, they feel duty bound, because they hold the office of
constable, to deal with that situation. They get very frustrated
because they have to call into their control room, the control
room has to ring the local force to get authority for them to
deal with the situation. In some instances, there is not the time
to do that. So you have the situation of a citizen in a policeman's
uniform, dealing with a situation such as a serious road traffic
accident where someone is seriously injured. Obviously, you radio
for help but you get stuck in and do what you can to assist that
member of the public. This new power would take away all the uncertainty
surrounding that area.
614. Do you think that it will improve the image
of the force with other agencies like the civilian police?
(Mr Cullen) Most certainly.
615. Returning to Scotland, by and large with
an ordinary police force that is regionally based, police officers
would have to transfer to move away from that particular region.
Within the MDP could they be transferred from the south of England
up to Scotland?
(Mr Trickey) Yes, we are a UK-based force so they
can be transferred from Devonport up to Faslane.
616. Would that be unusual?
(Mr Trickey) No. The man who goes from Devonport to
Faslane will attend a Scottish law conversion course and he will
also go to Tullialan, so that he will be conversant with Scottish
law, which is a common law system rather than a statute system
as in England.
617. You would not see a need for a specially
designated Scottish Ministry of Defence force?
(Mr Trickey) No.
618. It has to be nationwide?
(Mr Trickey) Yes.
619. On your websiteI assume it is the
Defence Police Federation websiteyou set out what you think
the Bill proposes: "That MDP should be able to respond more
widely to requests for assistance from other Police Forces".
What sort of requests for assistance do you envisage?
(Mr Cullen) A good case in point is the recent fuel
crisis, when local chief constables requested the assistance of
our force for mutual aid. Our officers were told that they could
come along and help but they would be acting as citizens.