Examination of Witnesses (20-39)|
THURSDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2001
20. Except in Staffordshire of course. The chief
constable is sitting behind you and I am sure his lads are excessively
polite to everybody.
(Mr Ray) I am sure we would not want to compete with
Staffordshire. We have a number of community initiatives already
like the drug abuse scheme. We have security vigilant areas, which
is virtually neighbourhood watch against terrorism, in a number
of areas where we are working in the public community, for example,
Hereford. Perhaps one of the most dramatic examples is Kosovo
where, after three weeks' special training, our officers, straight
from their normal duties, go to Kosovo, policing probably the
most hostile policing environment in the world at the moment.
They could manage that with credit and they were well received.
After 18 months, they had fully established themselves as probably
one of the most respected forces in that country, doing civil
policing tasks under difficult circumstances. Even in the Pitcairn
Islands two of our officers are policing a remote community of
50 members of the public. Unfortunately from our point of view,
we lose a number of officers to Home Office forces. They transfer
out from us and we lost 31 last year, ten of whom to Essex, which
was unfortunate. Nearly all those officers are taken straight
into their force with no further training or very little, apart
from local familiarisation, and put straight out on the streets.
Home Office forces have confidence in our officers and their ability
to deal with the public. I do not think we should have too much
concern. I am happy that they are already doing it, and on a daily
basis up to 500 of our officers can be working amongst the general
public anyway in the area police teams, the unit beat officers
and the CID, who work very much in the community and carry out
inquiries in the community. We are even having regular contact
with the public outside the main building of the MoD directing
tourists more often than we are doing security, dealing with the
public in Whitehall. I think we are well experienced and quite
competent to deal with members of the public.
(Mr Crowther) Could I pick up the last point about
cordons? The proposals in the Bill only permit that power on defence
land or when acting at the request of the home department police
force, so it is not an unlimited power by any means.
21. I am not aware that the MoD Police are different
in Aldershot. They do not appear to be and I am sure that experience
is similar in the rest of the country. At the moment, I am not
aware that an MoD police officer would make his identity as an
MoD police officer known to a member of the public under the new
proposals. If the MoD police officer is acting in support of the
local constabulary will they be required to identify themselves?
(Mr Ray) I think it is self-evident if they wear a
uniform and that is adequate to produce evidence that they are
a constable. It is not strictly relevant whether they are Ministry
of Defence or not, although that is evident in a subtle way by
the badging. If they are not in uniform, they will have to produce
documentary evidence. They will all carry a warrant card that
will identify them as Ministry of Defence officers.
22. If you are being robbed, I do not think
people will say, "Excuse me, are you home department police
force or non-home department police force?" These arguments
can be taken a little too far. Not to be too partisan, one of
the worst decisions the last government made was in my view to
flog off the MoD housing estates. One of the arguments used was
on the lines that if anybody could buy a house near the wire or
indeed inside the wire who did not come from the defence establishment
and families this might pose a more serious threat potentially
from a terrorist organisation that might insert somebody, to send
them on to purchase the house and then would find him or herself
very close to very sensitive property. Has that been a problem?
Have you had any recourse to vetoing the purchase of a house near
an MoD estate because of the person's criminal record or potential
links to terrorism?
(Mr Ray) I would not think it was in our remit to
veto the purchase of a house. The situation you describe does
create a problem for us in the sense that you are not always sure
when dealing with a married quarter estate if the property is
still an MoD property or has been sold. If you are called to deal
with an incident at that house, you cannot say first of all, "Who
owns the property?" before you can deal with an incident.
This is again a reason why we need to have certainty about our
23. How do you go about that?
(Mr Ray) By and large, they work in conjunction with
Home Office forces. If there is any ambiguity or uncertainty,
they will contact the local force and say, "Look, this is
the situation. Do you want us to deal?" Invariably, they
are within the vicinity so they can be asked to deal but it is
a very unsatisfactory situation.
24. I can understand why you would not want
to veto a sale. I am sure Addington Homes would be irritated.
If somebody turns up who is known to be on the police computer
as belonging to or linked with somebody in Abu Nidal or Al Qaeda
I would hope that the Ministry of Defence Police would express
some reservations about that person being located within 50 yards
of a sensitive military establishment.
(Mr Ray) We are not consulted as a matter of course.
Chairman: You ought to be. Perhaps we
might recommend that in our report.
25. The Anti-terrorism Bill in relation to MDP
officers having the full powers of a constable would be broadened
to persons whom they suspect on reasonable grounds of having committed
or being in the course of committingin other words, carrying
out any offence whatsoever. Inside those proposals to give MDP
officers full constabulary powers when they come across incidents
outside the defence estate, they are considerably broader than
those previously proposed in the Armed Forces Bill. Do you consider
this necessary? I appreciate you have already given an insight
but could you expand?
(Mr Ray) Are we dealing with a situation where we
do not have time to request from the local force authority to
deal with them or whether they want us to deal with them, to give
us jurisdiction? We are looking at an emergency situation?
(Mr Ray) I think we do because of the situations I
have described. If you are carrying out protective patrolling
around the vicinity and you come across something which you know
is terrorist related, from intelligence for example, someone fits
the description of a known terrorist, you need to exercise power
there to arrest or to stop and search. You have to be sure that
you have full jurisdiction to do that; otherwise you are liable
under criminal law. The only way to do that is to be certain you
have the power to deal with that. The sort of offences that we
envisage do not necessarily involve violence. Because they are
so far down the road from the actual offence of pure terrorism,
they may not involve violence. For example, just being a terrorist
or supporting terrorism or supplying information to terrorists
under the Terrorism Act. That is the sort of activity, a reconnaissance
by terrorist related people, people who support terrorism, who
are known to us. If we come across those people, with no act of
violence to give us the power, no risk to life immediately, we
still need to deal with them. Otherwise, they have a free rein
to do all their preparations for terrorist acts without any intervention
from us. More likely than not, you are going to come across those
people very quickly and there is not much time to seek the authority
of a local force.
27. Picking up on an earlier point about intelligence
gathering and the intelligence lean in your operations, how do
you link in with the local force? How is that exchange of intelligence
(Mr Ray) Since the 11 September incident, we have
established our own intelligence cell which is a national coordination
of some intelligence in this field. We are working very closely
with special branches around the country so we have a very close
relationship with special branches and the anti-terrorist organisations.
We have a very good sharing of intelligence which makes our job
a lot easier and more effective because without intelligence you
are really groping around in the dark.
(Mr Crowther) I think you started off by referring
to the clause which talks about defence personnel as victims,
so to speak. The background to this is that the existing legislation,
the 1987 Act, is ambiguous on this point. It is quite clear that
it gives the Ministry of Defence Police jurisdiction where defence
personnel are suspected of having committed an offence but it
is quite unclear whether it refers also to cases where an offence
is committed against them. This particular provision is designed
to clear up that ambiguity. There is no intention of using it
on a blanket basis but only in cases where the offence is related
in some way to the person in question's employment by the Ministry
28. Going back to the emergency situation that
you describe outside the defence estate, when arrests are made,
where would you see the arrestees being taken?
(Mr Ray) That is already an established practice.
We always take them to the local force custody suite. We do not
have any PACE custody suites. We are obliged to take them to the
nearest licensed PACE custody suite under PACE. There it is handled
by and large by the custody officer of that force. It is subjected
to an external review, if you like. He reviews the evidence. He
also reviews his detention of that person subsequently, so we
are being accountable and reviewed by that force in that process.
29. The presumption that those whom you have
arrested will be handed over to the local force at the earliest
(Mr Ray) That is an inevitable part of the procedure.
30. You are driving around a council estate;
you see some old lady getting mugged. What happens? Do you say,
"I am going to arrest that guy?" There is no problem?
You do not need to look like a terrorist, Middle Eastern or Kashmiri?
You would intervene?
(Mr Ray) This is the dilemma posed when you are patrolling
in public areas in uniform. People cannot distinguish you from
any other police officer of the local force and you cannot walk
away. If someone is being subjected to a crime, particularly a
serious crime, you cannot say, "It is nothing to do with
me. I do not have jurisdiction." That is again an area we
have been looking to remedy. It is linked to terrorism because
if terrorism takes us way outside the wire, patrolling in public
areas, it is more likely that we will come up against those situations.
While you are there, not looking for this, I stress, if you come
across it and someone says to you, "Officer, I have just
had my wallet stolen", you cannot say, "Did they hurt
you when they did it?" or, "Was there any violence used?"
You need to be able to deal with it and that would be enabled
by having this power we have described. It saves being in the
invidious position of having to say, "I am sorry. If you
had been hurt, we could help you. If you have not, we cannot."
31. Is that happening at the moment?
(Mr Ray) It happens sometimes and more often than
the officers have to stand there, dancing around, trying to detain
people. It is a bit of a bluff sometimes because they do not have
power to lay on hands. If the suspect chooses to walk away, you
can use a citizen's power of arrest under section 24 of PACE,
but you have to then show that the offence actually has been committed.
If it turns out it was not committed ever and there was just good
suspicion, then you cannot make that citizen's arrest and that
is somewhat difficult.
32. If things are going to be clarified, it
would be helpful. If it is as confused as this, it is the answer
to Mr Jones's question as to why such legislation is required.
(Mr Crowther) This is one place where we have done
some further thinking since the Armed Forces Bill.
33. Cooperation with local police forces is
clearly going to be a key issue around the extension of your jurisdiction.
As I understand it, that is governed by protocols between the
local police forces and yourselves. I was interested in a quote
from the Armed Forces Bill Committee: "It is clear to us
that the detailed arrangements reached in the revised Protocols
between Home Department police forces and the MDP will be the
determining factor in how well the extension of the MDP's powers
work in practice." Would you agree with that as a proposition
and could you tell me what steps are being taken to revise these
(Mr Crowther) Let me take this in two stages. First
of all, yes, I do agree with the statement that you have made.
Cooperation with Home Department police forces is knitted into
these legislative proposals right the way through. We are talking
about two powers essentially. One is acting at the request of
a Home Department officer, so they are in at the beginning there,
and then there is the emergency power which is only available
when a Home Department officer can neither be summoned nor contacted.
Cooperation with Home Department forces is right at the very centre
of this. The protocols will certainly have to be renewed, reviewed
and revised. There are two reasons for this. One is the prospect
of changes in the legislative framework, which we are talking
about now, but in addition to that the force at the moment, as
a defence agency, is being subjected to what is called its quinquennial
review. All defence agencies have to be reviewed every five years.
This amplifies the point the Chairman was making about the frequency
with which the Ministry of Defence Police are reviewed. The likelihood
is that at the end of that process changes will be required to
the protocols to reflect that review as well.
34. How lengthy a process is all this going
to be? You have said how important the events of 11 September
have been and the ramifications of all of that. It really means
we have to get on with it. What timescale are we talking about?
(Mr Crowther) I would anticipate that we shall get
on with it very promptly.
35. That is hardly an answer. You must have
an idea of timescale.
(Mr Ray) I can elaborate. I have set them a timescale
to have draft guidelines drafted before the end of this month,
the first draft, and then we can start working beyond that.
36. With 20 years' experience of dealing with
the Ministry of Defence the answer, "We have to move promptly"
is about the most honest reply I have ever received. I can think
of a thousand alternatives that could have been issued so thank
you very much. "Promptly", I presume, means the next
two or three months?
(Mr Crowther) I think we may be talking about two
separate things here. There will have to be instructions to the
force as to how they will deal with the new powers from the moment
that they come into force, hopefully before that. We then have
the process of renegotiating the protocols with the Home Department
forces and, like any negotiation, this may take a little longer.
Chairman: We shall ask the chief constable
as the first question how long will it take. Hopefully it will
be done fairly quickly.
37. Do I take it that these protocols by definition
are confidential documents?
(Mr Crowther) No.
38. Is it going to be the case that these protocols
will answer some of the questions that Mr Jones was pursuing earlier
on about the definitions for when you act and when you do not
act? Am I correct?
(Mr Crowther) They do indeed. Their primary purpose
is to indicate a modus operandi in those places
where the Home Department force and the MoD Police have an overlapping
39. Therefore, in answer to Mr Jones's question,
the publication of your protocols might go some way towards answering
(Mr Crowther) Yes, I should think it very likely.