Memorandum from Lindis Percy (26 November
The submissions I make to the Defence Committee
arise out of my deep concern involving the lack of public scrutiny
and accountability of the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP). I
am troubled by the proposal to extend the jurisdiction of the
MDP. My deep concerns are based on many experiences I have had
with the MDP generally involving the skills, practice, knowledge
and professionalism of the MDP. I will give examples of some of
my experiences with the MDP and the redress I have sought through
the courts and Complaints and Discipline Department.
I confine my submissions specifically to the
MDP working on bases occupied and controlled by the United States
of America in the UK. This is the area from which my experiences
I am a trained nurse, midwife and health visitor
who has worked in the National Health Service (NHS) for nearly
30 years. I work part-time as a health visitor in Manningham,
Bradford. In each area of qualification I have a strict code of
practice as laid down by the United Kingdom Central Council (UKCC)
for Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors in order to maintain
high standards of practice and professionalism. I am answerable
to this body; should I step outside the rules and regulations
of the UKCC I will be brought in front of this body to account
for my actions. This is absolutely necessary in the interests,
safety and protection of the general public and the profession.
In the late 70s I was awakened to the issue
of weapons of mass destruction in general and nuclear weapons
in particular. Try as I might, and listening to both sides of
the argument I could not understand (and am not persuaded) why
it was apparently necessary to continue to specifically develop,
possess and possibly deploy nuclear weapons. I could not equate
this with bringing up three children, with my beliefs as a Quaker
and also working as a midwife at the time at Southampton General
Having been brought up in a fine family, I was
taught that I could expect from those `in authority' a high standard
of professionalism and practice. The rules and regulations laid
down to protect the general public from abuse or malpractice would
be strictly adhered to and if not, those in violation of those
codes would be speedily brought to account. Furthermore any bad
practices or mistakes would be rectified and lessons learnt. This
would be seen as a positive development for the authority concerned
and would apply to those in public office; but more particularly
to the police force.
I had no reason to believe otherwise, having
had few experiences with the police. The experiences I had later
were with the Home Department Police Force (HDPF) when working
as a health visitor, particularly in the area of child protection
work. I have always been extremely impressed by the skills, dedication
and care of the officers involved in this work. As a health visitor,
I have been summoned several times to give evidence in court.
This was the extent of my experiences of the
police, until I became aware of the Ministry of Defence Police
(MDP), serving on US bases in the UK due to my commitment to work
towards the abolition of weapons of mass destruction in general
and nuclear weapons in particular.
Out of these experiences I have also had many
dealings with the MDP in the courts at all level of the legal
system (except the House of Lords) and through the Complaints
and Discipline Department. I have used the systems and structures
(democratic, legal and political processes) available to the citizen
to raise my concerns. In my experience these processes invariably
fail the citizen in the area at issuethe Ministry of Defence
I believed that the MDP were subjected to the
same public scrutiny and accountability as the Home Department
Indeed MDP officers often tell me that this
Having researched the control, jurisdiction
and accountability of the MDP I know that this is not the case
and the checks and balances afforded to the HDPF do not apply
to the MDP.
I will give a few examples of concern:
the MDP are not accountable to an
elected Police Authority.
The MDP often seek dispensation from
the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) from investigating a complaint
by a member of the public. The HDPF have to investigate all complaints.
The courts (Magistrates' court and
appeal to the Crown Court) convicted an MDP officer for assaulting
me while in custody. The officer returned to duty with no action
taken. He continues to be involved in cases concerning myself.
A complaint of assault by an MDP
officer was substantiated by the PCA. The officer was promptly
promoted from Sergeant to Inspector.
MDP officers have continued to manipulate
and abuse the law of military land byelaws knowing that a general
direction `not to go further' after arrest had been given.
Asking questions of an MDP officer
concerning military land byelaws often results in an uncivil and
rude response e.g. `what's it got to do with you'`no comment'`I'm
not entering into any discussion about the byelaws'`it's
nothing to do with me'.
Many MDP officers do not know the
extent of their jurisdiction now.
Many MDP officers have a serious
lack of knowledge of the law.
MDP officers often show ignorance,
arrogance and contempt for members of the public who ask questions
concerning the interpretation and application of the law they
Letters to bring to the attention
of the senior police officers some of these malpractices are ignored
or not acted upon. There is often no meaningful redress for the
There is an obvious lack of training,
discipline and civility to members of the public (video evidence
should the Committee require).
The MDP are an Agency and tender
their services to a Visiting Force which has serious implications
for the British citizen.
I have given a few examples of concern regarding
the MDP. The MDP are not accountable in the same way as the HDPF.
They operate as a secretive and unaccountable police force, not
open to public scrutiny. There has been a serious manipulation
of the law (military land byelaws) which has been covered up by
the MDP over many years.
I am deeply concerned that there is a proposal
to extend the jurisdiction of the MDP. Before this is contemplated
there needs to be fundamental change to bring this police force
to account. There needs to be a radical improvement in the quality
of recruitment, training and practice before any extension of
jursidiction is granted. This police force seriously lacks the
checks and balances in place as for the HDPF, to ensure that the
general public is protected in a meaningful way from abuses and
I expect and demand the highest standards of
professionalism from the police force. I expect truth and integrity
in public affairs, particularly from the police. I demand this
as a citizen from a public body who are charged to uphold the
law, protect life and property and enforce the law. I also expect
a system of checks and balances as demanded in my profession to
apply to the MDP. The credibility of the MDP is seriously undermined
by not having such a system in place.