Letter from the Chair, ACPO General Policing
Committee to the Police Resource Unit, Home Office
I have consulted widely within ACPO and as you
would expect this is not as simple a set of proposals as it first
appears. We are keen, however, to help the Ministry of Defence
Police and we are particularly anxious that their powers should
be qualified. It does seem nonsensical for their officers to have
only a citizen's power of arrest (although that is what some of
my colleagues would wish to see them retain) when dealing with
members of the public in an emergency. The last thing any of us
would wish to see is a marked police vehicle with what appears
to be a police officer in it driving past the scene of an incident.
The proposals in Part 2 of your paperparagraph
35(a)-(d) are generally supported and would clarify some parts
of the law.
As far as paragraph 32 is concerned, we believe
that there should be a protocol drawn up to run with any legislation
so that it is clearly outlined in what circumstances Ministry
of Defence police officers are able to act with statutory powers.
We envisage that this should include a requirement that their
training be up to a certain standard and we particularly wish
to ensure that their contact with the relevant Home Office force
is made quickly. We have some sympathy with their officers who
come across serious incidents and we believe that they should
be acting as constables when they choose to get involved in dealing
with such incidents. We would point out however, that many more
mobile patrols seem to be undertaken by the MDP officers and in
doing so we would be determined to make sure that the officers
were not leaving their bases and patrolling in order to find incidents
I am sure that proposals such as this could
be worked out and a proper protocol drawn up. ACPO would be pleased
to work with MDP in this process if that would be seen as helpful.
This protocol could then form part of the guidance by both Ministers
to their relevant Forces.
We are already aware of the protocol that exists
in terms of arming of Ministry of Defence police officers and
we have no reason to believe that is not working extremely well.
I am also clear that Ministry of Defence police officers acting
in these circumstances would make their own force rather than
the Home Office force liable for their actions.
The final part of paragraph 32 concerns the
request for assistance. Whilst I cannot immediately recall that
ever having taken place and there is no evidence in the papers
that this is a particular problem, I consider that if we ever
were to call on their assistance it would be under our control
and that therefore they would need to have statutory powers. I
suspect that the MDP are more interested in offering firearms
support, which is an area where most of my colleagues are extremely
nervous. I therefore believe that this particular extension of
their powers is not required.
I hope this has been helpful and I would be
pleased to continue work on this matter in due course.