Examination of Witnesses (40-59)|
THURSDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2001
40. Could you be a bit more specific about the
areas where there will be changes in these protocols?
(Mr Ray) The first one that was mentioned by Mr Crowther
about the primary and secondary crime definitions emanating from
the quinquennial review is a slower time issue because it is going
to take some time to work through. The more urgent need for a
protocol revision is to deal with these new powers and how those
are going to be effected between us and the other force. That
particular part of the protocol I would think we could get on
with very quickly because we know what is in the Bill and we are
working on the assumption that it will pass along those lines.
If it does not, we can modify it obviously, but there are basically
over-arching protocols in policing in England and Wales, Scotland
and Northern Ireland and then there are individual protocols with
particular forces for particular operations if that is necessary.
41. Under the Anti-terrorism Bill it is my understanding
that the chief constable of your force will be able to provide
manpower and so on to meet special demands on resources and all
the rest of it. Do you see a limit to that? Do you see a limit
to what you can provide where chief constables of the home forces
(Mr Crowther) Yes, I do. The limit is set in the first
place by the limit on our available resources. The Ministry of
Defence Police are resourced to protect the defence estate and
operations. They are not resourced to do other things. There is
a quite marked limit on the resources that will be available for
this sort of operation. The important thing to remember about
this power is that any MoD police that were made available under
it would be under the command and control of the receiving police
force, who would therefore be responsible for what they did.
42. Could you give us any examples of the provisions
under which the chief constable would provide?
(Mr Ray) Yes, I can. The chief constable "may"
provide; it does not say "will" provide. He has that
discretion. The sorts of things are some specialist skills particularly
possessed within the Ministry of Defence Police: the rope access
team I have already described; our marine policing unit, probably
the biggest in the country, our CBRN capability. Those are specialisms.
The other one is a civil emergencyfor example, flooding
in an area where a force is simply overwhelmed with the demand
for policing activity on a short term basis in an extreme emergency;
or a major terrorist incident, where the sheer size of the incident
overwhelms local resources and for a short time they want support
from us under their command and control. A chemical, biological
incident is very resource intensive. Again, we have trained officers
who would deal with that. Those are the sorts of areas where we
might be deployed but I emphasise that the resources available
in our surge capacity to deal with such requests are extremely
limited. We are not talking very large numbers unless it would
have to deplete our policing of the MoD and we are not prepared
to do that.
43. In those circumstances where the resource
is not there, it goes back to the chief constable of the home
force to use such resources as he may have?
(Mr Ray) Yes. We would have to say, "I am sorry.
We cannot help you."
(Mr Crowther) I think it is much more likely to be
specialised resources than the idea that we might have masses
of police officers standing around waiting to be called for. The
force is quite stretched at the moment and we simply do not have
44. With 44 Home Department forces, how will
they communicate with each other? Will you be able to communicate
with them quite easily? Have the MoD and the Home Office been
smart enough to have radio sets or computers that are compatible?
(Mr Crowther) Yes. Our biggest procurement project
which we have ongoing at the moment is what is variously known
as PSRCS or BT Airwaves. It is the national radio communication
system for the police which is being rolled out progressively
throughout the county forces and we are in that process.
45. How long will it take?
(Mr Ray) I can advise you because I am the project
director for this. We are following the national roll out of the
system for Home Office forces. That has already started. We are
already using those radios in parts of the country. That is accelerating
from now for the next four years. As Home Office forces acquire
the radio systems, we will be hopefully acquiring our own so that
we can maintain contact. The interim arrangement is that we rely
on the old VHF radio, a system of mobile phones and locally provided
Home Office force radios. The interim measures are a little sporadic,
but the Airwaves solution will certainly cure the problem.
Chairman: I would advise the Home Office
not to use any radio communications the Ministry of Defence was
prepared to offer because we have endless complaints. Every time
we see a soldier, they complain about the appalling communications.
46. Is it not vital that protocols are in place
from day one, for two reasons? One, you would get perhaps turf
wars between MoD jurisdiction and local forces and not clarity
over what their two roles are. Secondly, if you are going to get
maximum benefit out of these extended powers, joined up thinking
and working between the MoD Police and the local police at local
level is going to be vitally important. Are not the protocols
vitally important to have from when the legislation hits the ground?
(Mr Ray) You are quite right. That is why I have given
them this deadline to produce the first draft by the end of the
month, knowing that obviously the Bill will not be coming in by
then but it is to put pressure on them and to start getting drafts
so that we can start consulting. We are fully aware of the pressure
and the need to have our own draft guidelines, policies and procedures
drafted and confirmed before we have these powers.
(Mr Crowther) I do not honestly see the prospect of
turf wars because, in the one power, the Home Department officer
is in the driving seat anyway. He is the one who makes the request.
The emergency power is extremely tightly circumscribed as to the
circumstances in which it can be used.
(Mr Ray) I have no evidence of turf wars. The relationship
is working extremely well now really because we have been pushed
together. It varies from force to force, depending on the degree
47. Under these circumstances you are gaining
new powers infringing on the Home Department or the home police
forces' territory and therefore you are in a new set of circumstances.
(Mr Ray) We are not looking to take over their jobs.
We are simply there to support them if they want us to or we come
across things in an emergency. We are not looking to be proactively
deploying our officers to do their work for them. The Police Federation
who initially expressed reservations are now quite happy with
this because they recognise that there is an officer safety benefit.
Where a police officer can come to their aid if required, therefore
it is to their benefit and value that we have the jurisdiction
to come and do that for them.
48. When the Bill is further considered on Monday,
we will be dealing with this business about the MoD Police and
clause 98 is the relevant clause which would confer upon the chief
constable of the MDP to provide assistance to the local relevant
force "to meet any special demands on its resources."
You have indicated some examples as to where that might applyfor
example, flooding and so onbut this is the very general
power that is being conferred. It is permissive, not mandatory,
I accept, but can you confirm to us that you would resist an application
by a local force to supplement its routine activities because
it was simply under pressure by being unable to recruit enough
people? As an ancillary point, are you not yourselves going to
be under pressure if your numbers are reduced from 3,600 to the
(Mr Ray) You are quite right. We are already under
pressure in staff resources. We really do not have much spare
capacity to go and do other people's work. I have had absolute
support from the Chief Constable very recently (we discussed it
yesterday). He said, "I do not want our officers going off
and doing other people's work when our core activity is MoD estates.
Security policing, uniformed policing and crime investigation:
these are our core activities that the Quinquennial review has
identified and that is what we are going to do. We are not going
to be deterred from that by demands for support from elsewhere."
(Mr Crowther) Could I add that this power is modelled
on the existing power in section 24 of the Police Act 1996 which
enables similar arrangements to be made between home department
police forces. It was drafted so as to leave the MoD police out
and this remedies that deficiency.
49. I have two areas of questions, the first
is on inspection and the second is about complaints. May I first
of all declare an interest. I did have in my previous career the
trust of the MoD Police Service and then I represented their members
when they felt they were being threatened by the MoD Guard Service,
and I was a member of the Hampshire Police Authority as well,
so it is very even-handed. As far as inspection goes, as I understand
it the MoD Police do not have a statutory obligation to have the
police inspection system although there is an unofficial way of
having these inspections done, and the inspector was legally trained.
The Secretary of State did indicate during discussions that he
would look favourably at an amendment to the Armed Forces Bill
which would put the MDP on the same footing with regard to inspection
by the HMI as other police forces. Unfortunately I do not think
that happened. I did say he was legally trained and the words
are very specific. What is the current position of the Ministry
of Defence police in relation to inspections by HMI of the constabulary,
and will this change as a result of the Anti-Terrorism Bill and
should the MDP be placed on the same footing as the other police
forces in relation to the HMI, ie, on a statutory basis, regularising
what is going on?
(Mr Crowther) The answer to all those questions is
yes. The MoD Police at the moment is inspected by HMIC very formally
but on a non-statutory basis. There was agreement during the passage
of the Armed Forces Bill that an amendment should be added to
the provisions in order to place this on a statutory basis. Unfortunately
that fell with the rest of the legislation. I anticipate that
a home will be found for that very shortly in other legislation.
50. So you are quite happy that it will be put
on an equal footing and it would be regularised and there would
be a statute backing that up?
(Mr Crowther) I believe that is Ministers' intention.
51. When was the last inspection?
(Mr Crowther) It is just about to happen.
(Mr Ray) The reason the Chief Constable is not here
is that this is the pre-inspection day by the HMI himself.
(Mr Ray) It is by invitation. It is basically every
two or three years.
Chairman: That is pretty good timing
in the light of this legislation going through. Somebody is thinking
in the MoD.
53. Can we go on to complaints? I recall that
in my local government time any complaints against police officers
were able to be read by me as a member of the authority and they
were quite trivial and silly. I am interested in how the MoD Police
would get involved in this. During the Second Reading debate on
the Anti-Terrorism Bill the Home Secretary said that the police
reform legislation would be introduced in the new year and it
would be used to bring the MDP within the normal procedures for
police complaints. At the moment MDP complaints regulations are
described by the MoD as being comparable to those of the home
department police forces. Can you clarify for us what this means
in practice? Are complaints against your own police officers currently
dealt with by the Police Complaints Authority and, if so, what
would be the procedure?
(Mr Crowther) They are dealt with by the Police Complaints
Authority in exactly the same circumstances as they would be if
they were made against an officer of the home department force.
The legal route by which you get there is slightly different but
the procedure is just the same.
54. Can I delve into that legal route? I am
not legally trained but I am sure there is some convoluted way
of making sure it is most difficult. Are you protected against
a complaints procedure by this legal maze?
(Mr Crowther) Complaints are handled by regulations
made in 1985 which reflect an agreement reached with the Police
Complaints Authority. This is an agreement made under a provision
in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. It is a statutory
provision that allows such agreements to be made.
55. As I said, I am sceptical about police complaints
because I tend to find that some of the complaints made are absolutely
stupid and if I were dealing with them I would throw most of them
away. Are you going to be happy if you are brought into the exact
same procedure as there has been for the outside police forces?
There are certain worries no doubt that you are changing things.
I am trying to find out if you would find yourselves more exposed
to an investigation or more complaints perhaps if it was aligned?
(Mr Crowther) I think the position is likely to remain
just the same, that the legal route may be slightly different
but the end result will be exactly the same as for the home department
(Mr Ray) I would emphasise that we have nothing to
fear from having thorough investigation of our complaints procedure
and the way that the complaints are investigated. The PCA does
carry out a similar function with us. We have further investigational
review, if you would like, because our police adviser happens
to be Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary and he regularly,
every 12 weeks, reviews all our complaints and disciplinary papers.
Following him, a further member of our Police Committee who is
an ex-PCA member carries out a further review of the disciplinary
papers, so they are thoroughly reviewed, far more perhaps than
most home police forces.
56. Your police committee is going to be reviewed,
is it not? Can you tell me what the current composition of the
MoD Police Committee is and do you think this makes your police
sufficiently accountable to those whom it serves, and will the
composition need to be reviewed in the likely extension of your
powers? I do not even know who these people are. Perhaps you could
shed a little light on what the Police Committee is made up of.
(Mr Crowther) The MoD Police Committee is a committee
of the Ministry of Defence and it is responsible to the Secretary
of State for Defence who is in charge of the whole defence operation.
It is normally chaired by the Second Permanent Secretary in the
Ministry, although from time to time also by a minister. Also,
the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff sits on it. In addition to
those the three servicesthe Army, Navy and Air Forceare
represented, as also is the Defence Logistics Organisation. The
Defence Police Federation attend meetings and there is also a
representative from the defence trade unions more widely. He is
one of three additional independent members that were added to
the committee quite recently. The other two are a representative
of the defence families organisations and an independent independent
member. We have already heard about the HMIC representation on
the committee, so it is a fairly wide range of people.
Chairman: Frankly I think that Mr Rapson
is thinking that he should be on it and it might be worth considering
having a member of our Committee to be genuinely independent on
57. The people are selected and appointed by
the Secretary of State, so there is no election procedure. He
or she is chosen because of the requirement and they are put on
and taken off presumably at the behest of the Secretary of State
when he or she thinks fit.
(Mr Crowther) That is correct, except that some of
the members of course are there ex officio. I could add
though that as part of the Quinquennial review of the agency which
is going on one of the subordinate studies to that will be to
look at the role, membership and functions of the committee.
Chairman: It might be an idea if you
arranged for 11 copies of your last annual report to be sent to
the Committee. I have a copy and the Clerk has a copy but it might
be helpful if you could send those further 11 copies.
58. Can you tell us something about your procedures
for the safe use and transportation of firearms, particularly
between MoD sites? Are you satisfied, in the light of changing
circumstances with this Bill, that those procedures will be adequate,
particularly as you come into more contact with the public?
(Mr Ray) Yes, I am satisfied, and that is not being
complacent. We view the possession and use of firearms for official
purposes as a most serious incident and must be taken most responsibly.
We have what is possibly one of the largest numbers of armed officers
of any force in the country on a regular basis and therefore we
have to be extra careful. The use of firearms is of course governed
by The Criminal Law Act and now Article 2 of the European Convention
on Human Rights which imposes a number of constraints and conditions
before we can justify the use of firearms, for example, the test
of reasonableness of the use of force. You now have to show that
it was necessary, absolutely the last resort, and there was no
other means possible by which to resolve the situation in any
other way. The use of firearms should be legal and it should be
proportionate, in other words you cannot shoot someone who is
simply waving their fist at you or waving a stick. You have to
show that the use of a firearm itself is necessary. We have a
range of escalating options to deal with such incidents, ranging
from physical presence, physical force, use of batons, possible
use of police dogs, before you finally get down to the use of
firearms. Our training is some of the most rigorous and regular.
Every month all our officers are given dry weapons training. This
is handling and safety training. That is carried out on a regular
basis, probably unlike any other force in the country, but it
is necessary because of the number of occasions they do handle
firearms as part of their job. Most of this of course is within
the MoD estate. I could give you some figures. The number of times
we load and unload weapons every day or every year is staggering.
We have one and a half million loads and unloads of weapons a
year in the course of duties within the MoD estate. We have never
had a negligent discharge this year and I have to say we have
never had to shoot anyone either.
59. Can you tell us where firearms are kept
when travelling between sites? Are they kept in a locked box?
(Mr Ray) There is a locked box in the vehicles that
may be required to carry firearms. We do not carry firearms in
public areas as a matter of course ever without the prior written
agreement of the force through which we pass. The only exception
to this is our escorting duties of special materials, where there
is a well-established procedure in agreement with other forces
and regular contacts throughout the movement. Then they are not
carried in locked boxes. But even in the transference of weapons
around the country for administrative or training purposes, the
weapons are carried separate from the ammunition in separate vehicles.
They are carried in locked boxes and that is done under strict