Examination of Witness (100-106)|
THURSDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2001
100. Do you think the Anti-Terrorism Bill is
clear enough about the lines of accountability where the Ministry
of Defence police officers are responding to the request from
a constable of another Home Office based force for assistance
in dealing with a specific incident or operation? In those circumstances
is the Home Office based police officer senior to the Ministry
of Defence police constable in that relationship where they are
asking clearly for specific assistance?
(Mr Giffard) I am aware even under the present arrangements
in North Yorkshire that they have drawn up a local protocol between
the forces, between MDP and North Yorkshire Police, as to how
that will operate between the two forces. That is to deal with
accountability and liability. I have not re-read it this morning
but I think that the officers there are acting under the direction
and control of the North Yorkshire Police, which means that their
supervision will tell the Ministry of Defence police officers
what to do. There is not a seniority between two constables. That
would be almost impossible to enforce. Therefore it is a matter
of the direction and control from above that. Within that arrangement
and within that protocol I am quite sure is defined (but I cannot
remember which way it is defined) the accountability if anything
happens on behalf of the Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police,
who is I think responsible in those circumstances, but I would
want to correct that. I might be wrong about that.
101. That really does pick up on the second
question. Who would be there primarily to take the blame or deal
with any incident where it appeared something had gone wrong,
where there had been a joint operation of that kind? Would it
be the local Home Office Chief Constable who would be the prime
person to deal with any such investigation even if it appeared
that it was the Ministry of Defence police who were responsible?
(Mr Giffard) I am quite convinced that the local Chief
Constable would be responsible for any inquiry and for any blame
exercise so long as the agreement was properly sorted out in advance.
If a Ministry of Defence police officer were to act without any
form of prior consent then in those circumstances it seems to
me that that is for the Ministry of Defence Police Chief Constable
to be responsible for.
102. But not where there is a joint operation?
(Mr Giffard) Where it is a joint operation it will
have been agreed in advance, the protocols will be there, and
indeed out of the re-write of the Home Office circular I am quite
convinced all that will get laid down very precisely as to what
must be in place before that starts happening.
103. We have heard this morning that all the
MoD police are firearms trained and carry weapons when they are
on sensitive convoys, presumably armed weapons, and that although
the Armed Forces Bill Committee were assured that when they travelled
between bases the ammunition was separate from the firearms, it
was slightly confusing for me. If you take a convoy from base
to base are they armed or are they not armed? It seems a bit stupid
to lock them up. There is some worry in the back of my mind that
such a large area of MoD police officers are likely to have extended
powers. In relation to firearms have you got any concerns about
that and do you think any future protocol should contain that
particular issue? I would imagine you have got worries. I would
just like to know what they are and whether we can do anything
about and whether, if we cannot, you can in your protocol consider
(Mr Giffard) Let us first of all deal with the convoys
escorting sensitive material. There is an ACPO Terrorism Committee
agreed set of procedures whereby that escort takes place under
the escort of armed Ministry of Defence police officers telling
ACPO Home Office Chief Constables of the route in advance. We
know they are coming through us. We know that they are armed guarding
it and they have a special cadre of officers trained to do that
who exercise regularly and from time to time Home Office Forces
exercise with them in case something should happen. As far as
between bases is concerned, again I take it to a local example,
RAF Stafford has about seven different sites. They have to have
armed guards within those seven sites who move between the seven
sites from time to time. I am completely convinced that when they
move between the sites the ammunition is in a separate vehicle
from the weapon and that there is almost no hope whatsoever of
those officers self-arming simply because they are unlikely to
have quick access to weapons and ammunition together. They travel
separately. The extended powers part and the firearms concerns:
their firearms training is the same as ours at basic level but
is actually more concentrated in certain specific areas because
they do slightly different work. They are not raiding houses or
putting an armed containment round a house. They are doing it
for a different purpose so the training is slightly different,
but we know they follow our recently re-written manual which they
have been part of and helped us with re-writing. The third part
of your question I may not have answered.
104. I was trying to tease out if you had any
real concerns. It sounds as if there cannot be any problems.
(Mr Giffard) I do not believe that there will be armed
Ministry of Defence police officers other than in the sets of
circumstances where it is agreed beforehand with the local chief
constable, as is happening in North Yorkshire now, that they are
sitting in the same car, one North Yorkshire police officer, one
Ministry of Defence police officer, the same weapons to go back
to a question that was asked earlier. They have ensured that and
they are using the MP5 as well on this operation because that
is the same weapon as the North Yorkshire officer is using so
that seems eminently sensible for lots of reasons. I think that
those are the only sets of circumstances where you will see armed
Ministry of Defence police officers and they have got the agreement
in advance already.
105. The protocol that we were talking about:
my friend from Scotland was saying that it is different in Scotland.
They have to get permission beforehand etc, but not in ours. Is
there a need to bring ours along, or are you happy with that?
(Mr Giffard) I hope we are not getting confused here.
As to the permission in advance, I have given written authority
for them to move weapons between bases within RAF Stafford. Without
that I do not see that they should be able to do that. They have
done that. In North Yorkshire there used to be at times of terrorist
threat patrols of the married quarters, which happened to be outside
the wire at Linton-on-Ouse, by written agreement with North Yorkshire
Police Chief Constable. Those patrols were armed as well. I do
not think that it happens that they come outside the wire without
prior notification with weapons.
Syd Rapson: Thank you, Chairman.
106. Could I carry on the same point. Do you
think that either you or any of your colleagues in England and
Wales would favour a written protocol that says that you need
to be consulted before those arms are moved that you do not have
at the moment?
(Mr Giffard) I think we have got that in Home Office
Circular 17/99: "The Chief Constable of Ministry of Defence
Police should give advance notification to the local Chief Constable
whenever it is intended that Ministry of Defence police officers
are to be engaged in armed duty on public roads." That might
need a little bit of tightening in the circumstances that I have
outlined of "moving between" but actually I have got
a local agreement on moving between anyway because the spirit
of that falls within paragraph 7 of this Circular.
Chairman: I just have one other questionand
we have not done this for a long timein private session,
so if we could clear the room.
[The Committee withdrew into private session.]