Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160 - 179)



Mr Jones

  160. It is this Simon Webb approach which concerns me; this stiff upper lip approach that everything is okay and we are reviewing everything internally. The things you have outlined seem to be the typical English approach—you set up committees. In terms of the answers given in terms of the review, things have changed since 11 September. You have already explained the audit system, but has anything been found which makes you say anything has fundamentally changed since 11 September, or have you found somebody not doing what he should be doing?
  (Ms Craig) When 11 September happened, obviously everybody reviewed their security procedures. We did find, certainly at headquarters, that there were some things that were not quite right. The attack on the Pentagon made us think quite hard about what we should be doing and we do spell out in the memorandum the sort of measures that were taken in London to make our buildings secure. Added to that, we did issue an order to all commanders to be more vigilant because the terrorist threat—although we had been guarding against a terrorist threat for many years—had clearly changed in quality since 11 September. We are now looking at the possibility of suicide bombers—people who are prepared to waste thousands of lives—and also the possibility of chemical, biological or nuclear attacks. We have borne all those things in mind since 11 September. We, either in the MoD or with the Cabinet Office, are carrying out a number of reviews to look into all those issues.


  161. Does your study include any enhancement of security of the List X companies, British Aerospace, for example, or are they left to their own devices and the existing controls over them?[4]

  (Ms Craig) The List X companies are the responsibility of the security service and they are advised by government security advisers from the security service. As far as I am aware, there have not been any additional measures taken.

  162. Could you find out, please, and let us know. The numbers of the MoD police have dropped immeasurably over the last 10 years. Now that the threat is significantly enhanced, are Ministers going to find a good reason why the numbers should continue to go down or is there a very strong case, as I would have thought, for the numbers, not just to be stabilised, but to be actually increased significantly?
  (Ms Craig) The numbers are determined by the customer requirement, and through this year there have been a number of additional requirements placed on the MDP, so I think the ultimate numbers will depend on how much work there is for them to do. Let the Chief Constable add to that.
  (Mr Clarke) I think the short answer to your question is that I would not expect to see great changes in numbers of MDP officers in the coming months and over the next two or three years. Nor would I expect to see substantial reductions either. That comes about because of a number of issues. The quinquennial review, I believe, has articulated exceptionally well the output that the Ministry of Defence Police do—what is it that we should be doing—and I think that is clarification of it, and I think that it is the responsibility of the heads of establishments. They have clarity about what it is that the Ministry of Defence Police do. So, quite frankly, I would not see great changes one way or the other.

  163. Which force did you come from?
  (Mr Clarke) I came from West Yorkshire Police.

  164. They are not as devious in West Yorkshire as the Ministry of Defence are! I hope you are on your guard!
  (Mr Clarke) I have been there for 31 years.

Mr Hancock

  165. Can I just go back to the budget and the way in which the budget holder has control and the increased emphasis now on increased security. You talked about the different style of threat now. That, by implication, means that there will be a need to spend more money. Is it the current policy of the Ministry of Defence to say the budget holder has to accommodate that increased expenditure on security from within their existing budget or are you expecting to make a sizeable bid for new expenditure to be allocated simply to cover the increased cost of security—because there is, in my mind, at least a suggestion that the risk owner can easily be subdued into becoming a risk-taker because they cannot afford it?
  (Ms Craig) There is no central budget for security, so it is down to the risk owner to bid for extra funds if he needs to.

  166. Have you had any indication from your political masters that they are going to make a bid to the Treasury to cover the increased costs of security within the MoD estate itself?
  (Ms Craig) There have been extra measures taken as a result of 11 September and I believe there is money available for some of it.

  167. Is that coming out of the contingency or is that coming out of MoD funds centrally?
  (Ms Craig) I cannot answer that.

  Mr Hancock: Could you let us have a note of that, because I think it is important. You lay emphasis on the changed nature and increased nature of the security and we are entitled to know whether that is coming out of something else that is going to have to suffer or coming from new money.[5]

Syd Rapson

  168. Probably the private session would be better for this but I have knowledge of a site which is owned by the MoD but run by an agency. To save money, and you have talked about the budget, they have changed from MoD Police to guard force operators, making sure that one policeman was left because they had to have an armed presence and only MoD Police can have a gun. That seems to be fairly low-scale security and following 11 September that clearly ought to be reviewed. Saving money on the budget, by moving from MoD Police to a guard force seemed okay at the time, but since 11 September we have to review that surely?
  (Ms Craig) Without knowing what it is, I cannot really comment, but, yes, I would expect they would review their requirement but it would be up to them to do that.

  Syd Rapson: I will pursue that in private session.

Mr Cran

  169. Mr Clarke, if I heard you correctly you said you did not think numbers were going to go either up or down, it was going to be fairly steady.
  (Mr Clarke) Yes.

  170. As I understand that, that means you can do your job with the number of officers you have. I did get that right, did I not?
  (Mr Clarke) Yes, you did get that right. That does not mean that all the officers will be deployed at exactly the same place over the next two or three years. We know that officers will be withdrawn from one or two locations, there will be increases for other demands, some of which are post-11 September specifically. That is why I say, overall I would expect the numbers to be about the same.

  171. I have to say to you that I am surprised by the assurance with which you say that, simply from the point of view of the question, what is the scale of the problem that we might face as a result of 11 September. I was struck yesterday by what the President of the United States said, and I took the quote down this morning, and he clearly sees it somewhat differently from you. He said, "The threat is posed by tens of thousands of terrorists schooled in methods of murder. They are spread throughout the world like ticking time bombs." I do not know what that means other than the President of the United States clearly sees the problem as being potentially quite a big one, and therefore I would have thought, if I had been in your position, I would have a rather open mind about what resources I might need in the future.
  (Mr Clarke) I think the reality is, and I am certainly not going to take issue with the President of the United States—

Mr Jones

  172. Why not?
  (Mr Clarke) Not today!—the reality is that this is not just about the MDP, there are many of us involved—Home Department police forces included—in anti-terrorist activity and it is not only police officers, whether it be the guard service, MPGS, whether it is about spending money on physical security. So the first thing for me to say is that we are only one small component part of one element in a much bigger picture. The Quinquennial Review articulated its position prior to 11 September and I think it has moved on since then, but one area was about the MDP having the reserve capacity and capability, and that is something which we are addressing at stage two of the QQR Report. I am not going to just pick a number out of the air and say what the reserve capacity should be, because what we need to do—and it is not just MDP, it is MoD—is to scenario-plan for what that reserve capability should be. I think it is fair to say that prior to 11 September if someone had come up with a scenario equivalent to 11 September, people would have laughed at us. So the difficult task at this stage on what is our reserve capability will be realistic scenario-thinking and planning, not just by MDP but MoD, by government officials, and maybe there will be a reserve capacity which comes behind that. But we all know that it is no good having officers or any group of people just sat around waiting for what if, they also have to be gainfully employed.

  173. I did not mean to imply you should have officers sitting around doing nothing, all I was tackling was your absolute assurance, as I understood it to be, that as far ahead as you could see there was not going to be a requirement for more officers. All I was saying was, perhaps prudence might dictate one keeps that as an open question.
  (Mr Clarke) I think it is an open question, but with what we know today, with the plans for the future, in broad, ball park figures, I would not expect substantial increases or decreases.


  174. What they will do, as you know already, Chief Constable, is they will say it is cheaper to employ a soldier, it is cheaper to employ private security, it is cheaper to employ the guard service, because MoD Police are expensive, we have to pay a pension to them, therefore let's use an alternative. Are you satisfied that if people do not want your professional policemen who have access to arms that decision is made on rational security grounds and not on the grounds of looking after one's own service and keeping one's own servicemen occupied and, above all, because they might be cheaper than your alternative?
  (Mr Clarke) Let me say that I am as satisfied as I can be. The issue of security and the employment of Ministry of Defence police officers, you are quite right, has to be taken in the context of spending elsewhere, and it is not just an open cheque book, we all know that. What the QQR did was to clearly articulate the outputs for those who wish to employ and use the Ministry of Defence Police—this is what you use Ministry of Defence Police officers for, and you use MPGS for something different, and you use MGS for something different from that. I think that is quite correct. Working to the standards which are required, working with the customers, if I can put it like that, either the TLBs or the heads of establishment, we have this view, this vision, of what MDP contribute to that security. Some of it will be physical security, some of it will be the complementary roles of MDP working with MGS. I am sure, certainly in the 14 months I have been here, the discussions with that security advice have been meaningful discussions about the role of MDP.

Mr Hancock

  175. I was going to suggest that some budget holders might feel you are rather an expensive commodity.
  (Mr Clarke) Yes.

  176. And may go for a cheaper option. Many service personnel who have spoken to me in the past believe you are too expensive for them.
  (Mr Clarke) We are expensive by comparison with, say, MGS, but we do a very different function. I think one of the key issues is, we have to be careful because we do not want the cost of everything and the value of nothing, if I may use that term. The issue is, what is the value of a Ministry of Defence Police officer, and it is in very specific roles and functions. If someone else can do a job that is being done by an MDP officer, which can be done by someone else who has the necessary powers and authority, the necessary skills, then I think it is right to have that collaborative approach to security. We are not talking about it being done by the cheapest option, it is the role and responsibility that complementary skills can add throughout the organisation. That is a mature way of looking at the deployment of Ministry of Defence Police officers.

  177. Do you think that happens? Do you think those judgments are made?
  (Mr Clarke) In my experience over the last 12 months, and you may have examples before that, yes, there is that mature discussion which goes on, whether it be with the DLO or Strike Command or whoever the TLB might be. I believe there are mature discussions which go on. What happens, and again I fully understand it, when there are reductions, and we saw this with the RO sites, it becomes personalised because these are officers who, if they want to retain their employment with MDP, have to be up-rooted and moved. I understand that, that is about me and my staff sensitively managing the issues of redeployment of staff. But in terms of my role and responsibility for managing the Ministry of Defence Police as an agency, I have to give value for money, and I share that responsibility with the TLBs, with the DGS&S and with the security advisers at establishments, and I think that is the mature way to do it. The tendency will be, will it not, to take risks, to cut budgets, but I think, sadly, an incident like 11 September comes as a real wake-up and reminder that security is still key. I think we have had that constant reminder here in the UK particularly because of Irish terrorism. We have to keep adapting to the needs of each establishment.


  178. Could you send us, Ms Craig, a list of some statistics on what your people are guarding, the number of buildings, the number of hectares? Could you do that rather than Mr Hancock putting down a Parliamentary Question, which might cost more?[6]

  (Ms Craig) Yes.

  179. What is the estate, the number of personnel and, if you can, some sort of break-down. Secondly, and very briefly, have you had to change any instructions on the employment of private security since 11 September because they are eventually going to be subject to some form, not a very good form, of statutory control?
  (Ms Craig) No, we have not issued any new instructions.

4   See Appendix 1 p 62. Back

5   See Appendix p 62. Back

6   See Appendix 1 p 62. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 7 March 2002