Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220 - 239)



  220. There will be. The company are not having to pay for it and you are not going to pay for it out of your budget, the local council tax payers are funding it through their taxation, are they not?
  (Mr Clarke) The reality is there will be a diversion of resources.

  221. Wait a minute, I hate people avoiding questions, just say yes or no to some of these things. It is quite clear there is a cost that is passed on to local civilian police, is there not?
  (Mr Clarke) No, I do not believe there is an additional cost passed on. The resources are there already and they will be used.

  Mr Hancock: They are not there already.

Mr Jones

  222. When you provided it there was no cost? To sit there and say there is no cost to the local authority is absolute nonsense.
  (Ms Craig) The local police are not providing a permanent presence, they are providing a quick response and they have that anyway.

  223. They do and there is a cost involved.
  (Ms Craig) The commercial guards replacing the MDP guards are paid for by the company.

  Mr Jones: I accept that. To say there is no cost to the local police force that is not the case, I do not accept that.


  224. How many times would you estimate that a police force would be activated with its armed response unit to go to a private company, it is not going to be a weekly occurrence, is it?
  (Mr Clarke) I would not expect it is. I really have no information on that, so I genuinely cannot answer the question. I would not expect it to be frequent at all.

  Chairman: There are not any legal objections, are there, for a police force coming to the assistance of a private company? I am trying to work out with my colleague if he is trying to argue that somehow being private means the police and armed response team should have to be charged?

  Mr Jones: I am not saying that at all. All I am saying is it is quite clear that the actual cost is being pushed on to the local civilian police. It is for the chief constable to build that into the capacity of the armed response vehicle and therefore there is a cost involved. To say there is not I do not accept.

  Mr Howarth: He is doing that for the whole county.

  Chairman: Point made. Not much of a point, but point made.

  Kevan Jones: You might not think it is a point, Chairman, I think it is.

Rachel Squire

  225. This whole discussion has excited my curiosity as the Member of Parliament for the Rosyth and Crombie area. I do not know whether you can give the detail now, or somebody can write to me, I am just curious, given the review that is going on, whether the Ministry of Defence Police will retain the responsibility for Crombie, which is an ammunitions depot, which whilst privately owned contains nuclear material and whether it will end its responsibility to Qinetiq, as it now is, at Rosyth, but still be present at HMS Caledonia? You are nodding your heads, am I right that the MDP police will retain a presence at the Caledonia dockyard but move away from the formally DERA site?
  (Mr Cochrane) If I can come back to Rosyth, first of all, the situation at Rosyth is that the former Royal Navy dockyard is a commercial operation. There is an MOU between the MoD and the commercial operator whereby the MoD retains the right to insist on extra security requirements as the MoD sees fit and the contractor is obliged to carry them out, and ultimately that is reflected in a charge back to the MoD. In general terms we have retained the right to raise security there for such reasons as we deem necessary. Generally the security of the commercial site is the company's responsibility. The MDP in that area are, first of all, based in HMS Caledonia, which is a naval barracks and they are there partly to protect the lives of Service personnel accommodated in that Barracks but they also deploy into the commercial site in order to protect the lives of the service personnel who are from time to time accommodated within the commercial perimeter. That is why they are there, the company is responsible for the security of the company's activities on that site. The MDP presence is there to protect the lives of service personnel.[8]

  226. The nuclear material is the company's responsibility, not the MDP's responsibility.
  (Mr Cochrane) Yes, it is. If, for instance, as happens from time to time, we were particularly concerned about the possibility of nuclear demonstrators interfering and getting on to the commercial site we would insist on additional security measures being applied at that site but the police that would be called in would in this instance be the local civilian police rather than the MDP. While the fact is that MDP are there on the ground in an armed guarding role, they are also policemen and they can act in a police capacity.


  227. What about service personnel living in homes owned by the Nomura Corporation, also known as Annington Homes, are the MoD police operating on these estates even though they are military personnel or is that the responsibility of the civilian police forces?
  (Mr Clarke) Generally speaking that is the responsibility of civilian police forces. This was certainly a gap that was identified in the QQR in respect of the policy of the employment of MDP officers on married quarters estates. That forms a fundamental plank of a review at Stage 2, which I expect will report in the next couple of months.

Mr Hancock

  228. Is that possibly coming back to you?
  (Mr Clarke) Yes. The policing of married quarters estates under the QQR is about determining whether this a primary or secondary MDP role. There is an acceptance and a recognition that there is a responsibility to police, perhaps, a higher level on married quarters estates.

  Mr Hancock: That is why in Hampshire we have soldiers because your policemen are not there.

Mr Roy

  229. Mr Cochrane, can I take you back to another point, you said that the MoD retained the right to change the security criteria at some of the privatised bases.
  (Mr Cochrane) Yes.

  230. Who would pay when you change that criteria? Who is responsible for picking up the tab?
  (Mr Cochrane) Taking the example of Rosyth, it is in the MOU that the company is obliged to carry out such extra security measures as we deem necessary. In the first instance the company would pay but the company would undoubtedly reflect that back in their charges.

  231. If the MoD changed the criteria then it is the MoD that picks it up.
  (Mr Cochrane) Ultimately it would be featured in the charges that the company would raise on the contract, yes.

  Mr Howarth: Going back to the point about the key point defence items, I am not clear just where you draw the line between that which is a site which falls within the key point defence strategy and that which falls outside. Could I, therefore, invite you to let us have a list of the sites, we do have a safe here in our Committee office, which is where your original document has been placed, it is secure. It will give us a flavour of the kind of sites that are the beneficiaries of this protection.[9]

   Chairman: We now move on to question three, which means we will keep you a long time, certainly until 1 o' clock. So sorry.

Patrick Mercer

  232. We have covered much of this ground already. Talking about the details of defence at various different sites, Ministry of Defence sites clearly were geared to be protected against the Spetznatz threat. The manifestations of that were never clear. However, when the Irish Republican Army in its various different guises got into its stride in the late 1970s and 1980s we saw MoD sites defended by a rash of barbed wire fences, chain linked fences, Ministry of Defence Police patrolling and armed forces patrolling. I visited Whittington Barracks in Lichfield three or four weeks ago and I saw no difference in the defensive posture of that particularly vulnerable site between when I visited it and well before September 11, last year sometime. Because this country has not been directly attacked by Al Qaeda or similar organisations what additions have there been to security at sites like this? How clearly should we be able to see these? Where is the deterrece? Where is the reassurance posture, such as that we saw during the IRA campaign during the 1970s and 1980s?
  (Ms Craig) We have not been directly attacked by Al Qaeda but we have been by the IRA for many years. The arrangements we have in place we think are very good against terrorists. I am not sure there is much more I can say on that.

  233. We had an idea how the IRA would operate, the possibility of their attack was another matter. We have a jolly good idea of how the Irish Republican Army normally do their business and their various splinter groups, yet they continue to innovate, we saw that endlessly in the campaign, both on the mainland and in Northern Ireland. Suddenly there is the prospect of suicide attacks, suddenly the prospect of a whole gamut of a different style of attacks. I see nothing in place to deter or to reassure. For instance, what is the liaison with Israeli authorities, what have we taken of their experience?
  (Ms Craig) Since the Gulf War we have been very conscious of the risk of suicide bombers and wherever we possibly can we do get stand-off from MoD establishments and buildings, sometimes it is not possible. In the middle of London it is very difficult to get stand-off in a number of establishments.

Mr Howarth

  234. Get what?
  (Ms Craig) Stand-off. A separation, so if somebody leaves a bomb they cannot leave it next to your building, you put bollards and things up to get in the way, and wherever possible we have done that.
  (Mr Cochrane) I think as far as the general state of alert goes, without being in any way complacent the level that has been the norm since November 1999 is Bikini Black Special, and that applies across government.

  Certainly what we are talking about is physical security measures, like barriers to stop vehicles being driven in, access points kept as far away as possible from the sensitive area, either the critical activity or where people are accommodated. Those sorts of measures. We also have a regime of practising down to unit level people's ability to respond to terrorist incidents. Since September 11 those type of exercises have been expanded to take account of the suicide bomber threat and the unconventional threat. Maybe driving past the barracks today you would not see that much difference but I can assure you that people have taken on board the new threat. Meanwhile in central government, as I mentioned, the alert state is being reviewed and we hope to make it better suited to the new sort of threat and less driven by the former threat that we had from the Irish Republicans.

  Patrick Mercer: How frequently does that information filter down to you?


  235. Who does it filter to?
  (Mr Cochrane) It comes to the Cabinet Office and then it is disseminated in the form of guidance on the sort of things we were talking about, earlier, physical security measures. That guidance has been revised to take account of the new threats. As far as the detailed information on specifics and the technical details of barriers, and that sort of thing, are concerned there is a forum chaired by the Security Service, which MoD and other government security staff attend and are updated on the technical requirements, and the technical requirements appear in the security equipment catalogue. It is a constant process.

Patrick Mercer

  236. The point I am trying to get to is, as the IRA's campaign evolved so their tactics evolved and as their tactics evolved so too did our countermeasures evolve quite quickly. What concerns me is the fact we were susceptible, we realised that we were susceptible because we did something. As an example, recently the Israelis have found themselves vulnerable to female suicide bombers, therefore there has been a change in tactics, I use that as an example, how quickly is that nuance reflected in our countermeasures in this country?
  (Mr Cochrane) In terms of the changing threat we do have a very well established basis on which the Security Service, who are responsible for assessing the terrorist threat, not just here but overseas, are constantly disseminating intelligence on the nature of the threat and the changing threat. By its nature that sort of reporting tends to be highly classified but we do ensure that that is disseminated outside MoD HQ to security and intelligence staff down the chain of command in the services and wherever possible we ensure that a sanitised version of that intelligence is provided at a lower level of classification where it can be used in briefing everybody on an establishment. The process of a threat assessment and dissemination of intelligence is well established. Where there is some generic change, for instance the RPG attack on Vauxhall Cross, following that there was generic guidance issued from the Cabinet Office that we put throughout the MoD to take account of this new aspect of threat. That is what we would expect to happen with the sort of example you named. If there was intelligence that the use of females suicide bombers was a real option we should be taking particular care here.

  Patrick Mercer: Keeping things firmly in the weeds, if we may.

  Mr Howarth: What does that mean?

Patrick Mercer

  237. Keeping things at a tactical level. We have seen suicide bombers, the bomb tends to get the headlines, but there are sustained gun battles frequently that go on round the placing of the bomb and in cases of fighting, sustained gun battles, is the Ministry of Defence policeman enough for the job?
  (Mr Clarke) Obviously you would expect me to answer that yes. I think it needs to be broadened as well into a broader policing issue in respect of what activities have happened since 11 September. I am not sure if Chief Constable Ben Gunn is giving evidence to the Committee in respect of his role as Chairman of ACPO Terrorism and Allied Matters Committee. I am also a member of that Committee and I am also a member of the four guardian forces in respect of the capital, which are the Metropolitan Police, the City of London, the British Transport Police and ourselves. We participate fully in anti-terrorist issues of activities not only for the city but in terms of the transference of information—whether it be about suicide bombers, I am sure Mr Gunn will tell the Committee, it is not my role to do that—about activity which has happened between the anti-terrorist branch in the London Metropolitan Police and ***, et cetera. I believe in respect of the role the Ministry of Defence Police are required to do in respect of anti-terrorist work we are up to the job, particularly through the postulated threat. That is what our security measures, what our activities, what our training is for at those locations where we are. The relationship between ourselves and other home departments forces at key installations, critical sites, whether they be in the capital or else where, is excellent and we do take on board lessons learned, particularly post 11 September, that are happening round the world. I am particularly focussing on suicide bombers, which are horrendously difficult to deal with. It is interesting that you made reference to gun battles round suicide bombers, actually that is not the experience. There is a difficulty in terms of identifying suicide bombers before it literally goes bang. We are mindful of lessons learned and those actually are rolled out not only to ourselves but through the anti-terrorist section in London.


  238. It was Kipling who warned us about the female species being more deadly than the male.
  (Mr Clarke) I could not pass comment on that.

Mr Hancock

  239. I am rather surprised at that response. I have recently taken part in looking at the French security system and their response. The French have taken exactly the opposite view, they feel their police forces, which are all carrying guns, and their gendarmerie, who are very experienced in the activities of fighting sustained gun battles, have now had to put the army in to sites where they believe that there is a potential risk of where a sustained gun fight would take place. Very frequently you will see members of the army walking the streets in Paris, in the main shopping centres there are now soldiers patrolling in most of big department stores, they have soldiers on patrol with police officers. At the Channel Tunnel on the French side there is a military presence there constantly now, 24 hours a day, up to 12 heavily armed soldiers there and at all of the airports there is dual patrol between the police and service personnel. When asked the question, why there was so many military present, was the issue about the role of the police officers against the role of the soldier, they felt there is a different role there and in a gun fight with terrorists that police officers are not the ones best equipped for dealing with that issue. I am really surprised at the response you have come back with.
  (Mr Clarke) I believe what you are saying is absolutely correct, in a sustained gun battle it is not the police's role and that is not what police training is about. Where we operate in this country and the establishments that we operate at with the postulated threat, whether it be at Aldermaston or Faslane, as the initial response is by the police. That does not mean that we do not operate alongside service personnel. Certainly in terms of the MDP and the locations we are employed at we do work alongside military personnel. In actual fact there comes a time when MDP officers head down and it is the military who, as it were, execute the action from there.

8   Note from Witness: There is no nuclear material at Crombie and it is not a Qinetiq site. Back

9   See Appendix 1 p 63. Back

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