Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 240 - 259)



Patrick Mercer

  240. When is the line crossed, when you run out of ammunition?
  (Mr Clarke) No, not all. Those establishments where the police and military work very close together, Faslane is one that comes to mind, it is a case of, if you like, MDP take the first attack then it is very much heads down because the military are able to deploy very quickly thereafter.
  (Mr Cochrane) There are Royal Marines deployed there permanently in response and when an incident develops, with people using firearms with intent to, I do not know, make off with a deterrent or damage a critical facility then that would become a military situation and the marines would respond and take over the situation or at least contain the situation pending the follow up action. In those circumstances there are military on the spot who are trained in that specific role to take military action.

   Chairman: Was there a report on that?

  Mr Hancock: It is going to one of the meetings of the Council of Europe on Security and it is going to be developed further and it will be available in the summer.


  241. The French have a more relaxed attitude about soldiers on the street than we do.
  (Ms Craig) That goes way beyond our responsibilities here, that is really a 13 February issue.

  Chairman: We would love to see that report.

Mr Jones

  242. You have already mentioned, you touched on it, in terms of the various states, you have answered some of the points I was going to ask about in terms of different states of Black Special and Amber, I want to touch on how prepared we are in terms of the actual systems that are in place. I refer to page 40 of your useful document which you sent us, which says,
  (Mr Cochrane) ***

  243. ***?
  (Mr Cochrane) ***
  (Ms Craig) ***

  244. ***?
  (Ms Craig) ***.

  245. ***?
  (Ms Craig) ***


  246. ***
  (Ms Craig) ***
  (Mr Cochrane) To answer the cost question, as an example the guarding bill, when I talk about the cost of the guarding bill, I am talking the cost of about civilian guards, of moving from Black Special to Amber whic was an increase of about 20 per cent to 30 per cent on a normal guarding bill for instance. To make the point, guarding costs are extremely high. A core function of the MDP is providing armed security and their manpower costs, much of which is put into the armed guarding MoD establishments, £151 million a year. MGS costs us £80 million a year, commercial guard forces £6 million a year. Clearly for a limited period of Amber what comes into play then is overtime costs for the civilian personnel

Mr Jones

  247. What has been the increase, for example, on Black Special since September 11? This relates to Mr Hancock's earlier question, where does it come from in terms of the extra cash?
  (Mr Cochrane) The extra MDP cash—
  (Mr Clarke) The specifics for the MDP, post 11 September, the increased alert status and also maintaining American assets has cost £1 million.

Mr Howarth

  248. Extra?
  (Mr Clarke) £1 million extra. That has been by paying police in over time.
  (Ms Craig) We will let you have a note on that.[10]

Mr Jones

  249. Are they going to adjust your budgets year-on-year for that?
  (Mr Cochrane) That is being met by the centre.

  250. The final question is in terms of risk to home land, you obviously recognise the risk to United Kingdom bases overseas, what increased security has taken place there? How willing have local security or policing forces been, for example, in Cyprus or Kuwait or Saudi Arabia?
  (Mr Cochrane) That increased cost for the MDP, some of it, predates 11 September and was driven by the Menwith Hill incident in July when, you will remember, people dressed up as space ships and made us look rather silly. That has incurred significant costs at Menwith Hill and Fylingdales and we are in the process of reviewing the security arrangements at all sites used by US visiting forces. That is really to take account of the potential protest from anti-missile defence protestors. Since 11 September that has also caused a review of those places of the counter terrorist measures.

  251. Who will pay for that?
  (Mr Cochrane) Generally speaking the Americans will pick up the bill.


  252. The role of the MoD Police in protecting the Americans—I assume the Americans have their own police protecting themselves—are our people there to keep British citizens away from 6ft 6" military police or are they actually physically protecting the premises?
  (Mr Clarke) Our role is to be the interface and the public presence of a policing role responsibility with the public. That is our role. If you see that as keeping the Americans a little bit at bay I suppose there is some of that too. It is the appropriateness of what the policing response is. It is British police officers who are facing the public.

  253. They have robust rules of engagement which the British public need to be protected against, you are as much protecting the British public as the American Armed Forces I would have thought.
  (Mr Clarke) It has worked very well so far and the discussions between ourselves, local chief constables and the Americans in the United Kingdom has been a little robust at times, but it has worked very effectively.
  (Mr Cochrane) The question about overseas security, one of the TLBs referred to earlier, belongs to the Commander of Joint Operations whose headquarters are in Northwood. He is responsible both for the overseas bases such as they are, but also for the conduct of joint operations overseas. As owner of that responsibility he carries the responsibility for the security risk. In common with all other TLBs, the Permanent Joint Head Quarters (PJHQ), receives terrorist intelligence as disseminated by us and the security services. They have a system which is essentially the same as the Bikini Alert system and uses the same terms applied to permanent bases overseas. The difference overseas is that whereas at home, central government, with our involvement, directs the alert state that applies across government, overseas that is the responsibility of the Commander concerned, as delegated to him by CJO. The system is the same, he is seeing the same intelligence, better intelligence, more specific on the local threat that he faces, as we are, and the decision on the alert state to be adopted and specific countermeasures required are advised as necessary by local intelligence and liaison with the host nation.

Mr Jones

  254. Is it down to him to do that co-operation and liaise with the local security forces?
  (Mr Cochrane) Yes. There will be liaison at his level

Syd Rapson

  255. In all my time in the MoD I can only remember Red Alert once, and that was when Bobby Sands died. Portsmouth as a city came to a direct standstill because the infrastructure of the city came to a standstill, with the gates of the dockyard being locked and all of the vehicles outside. There was threats at that time several years ago of litigation, legal claims for loss of income from businesses, et cetera, and we have never had one since, presumably the red states are on direct evidence that something is going to happen and it could not be deflected by any economic attitude at all or pressure from any other source?
  (Ms Craig) As you say, Mr Rapson, it is extremely rare and I have never been aware of one, I am surprised that you have. If it happens it happens.

  256. There is nothing you can do.
  (Ms Craig) We take the measures.

Rachel Squire

  257. I have two questions, one, in terms of the involvement of the Ministry of Defence Police overseas involved in peacekeeping operations like, for instance, MDP officers in Pristina, has that been reviewed or changed at all since 11 September? Number two, picking up on what you were saying, Mr Cochrane, about serious intelligence, I wonder whether you would like to comment at all on whether it is still considered it was serious intelligence that engaged us and that involved us in actually boarding the Nisha and can you comment on any lessons learned from that?
  (Mr Clarke) If I can take the first one, in respect of a deployment of MDPs officer overseas nothing has changed post 11 September, we planned that commitment and we can maintain that commitment in terms of resources employed in the United Kingdom and there is nothing that they need to be doing any different post 11 September, that is all commanded out in Kosovo. That is the answer to the first one.
  (Mr Cochrane) The answer to the Nisha is that is really a matter that ought to be brought up on 13 February, it is really a matter concerned with our support at Home Office request for an incident. Yes, I can say that it was based on specific intelligence.

   Chairman: Perhaps you can drop us a note on what your guys and women, no doubt, have learned out in Pristina in terms of the kind of policing they are engaged in and whether any lessons can be transferred back to the United Kingdom? There is no desperate rush for that, but it would be helpful.[11]

Mr Hancock

  258. Can I ask one further question about the Red Alert, obviously I remember the Red Alert in Portsmouth but I was involved in a second one, which was a Red Alert when the Price sisters were convicted in Winchester of the IRA bombings, there was a Red Alert there. There was a big problem on that day and the aftermath there was there was a problem between the police and the army, because there was an army presence on the streets in Winchester on that occasion. The trial took place in Winchester because the girls were held in Winchester Prison and one of the reasons for having it there was the ability of the army to be close and there was a determined threat, a suspicious threat. The strange thing was the then Chief Constable, Douglas Osmond, who had been doing an inquiry into the RUC in Ireland at the time, had been kept out of the loop, it would have appeared, when the status changed. I am interested to know when the determination has been made to up the status how that goes through the chain of command? I remember the aftermath of that, there were a number of red faces about who had been informed and who was barred.
  (Mr Cochrane) As I said before, generally speaking the decision to raise the alert state is taken centrally and if there is time it is discussed in a Cabinet Office Committee, at which the MoD is represented. If there is no time, because of the need to act on pressing intelligence, the executive order is issued normally from the Cabinet Office. In the case of the MoD one of my directorate's responsibilities is to ensure that when we receive notification of an alert state change, be it whatever time, day or night, when it happens we have the capability to disseminate that down through the chain of command and it goes down to the equivalent of garrison, major RAF stations/bases in the form of a signal and normally with some explanation of why, as far as we are able to give it, at a restricted level normally, the change has been ordered and any special instructions that need to apply in terms of countermeasures. That is put out as a signal and is instantly available, really, within a matter of an hour, or so. Because people down to a local level understand what drills need to be carried out, what needs to be taken on a change of alert state, it should happen immediately. The kind of situation you describe, really, should not arise, the system should not allow that to arise within MoD.

  259. It was unpredictable, they did not know when the jury were going to make a decision. You have answered the first part of the question about your role policing non-MoD sites in United Kingdom bases and you made a substantial sum in doing that, your latest figure is £22 million was assimilated by your organisation for external policing. The question really relates to the risk assessment of those sites where the MoD are not particularly directly involved but where it is in the national interest to have a sizeable police presence there. How is that done? Who makes that decision? What involvement is there with you to playing a role in determining whether or not that is seen as a strategic national resource which has to be protected?
  (Mr Clarke) The extreme example would be the deployment of MDP officers at the Royal Mint, that is the extreme example. It has nothing to do with the MoD, but it is seen as a strategic asset for the United Kingdom and it has been deemed appropriate that MDP officers can carry out that task, which is a role for armed police officers, it is armed and unarmed. A risk assessment is done and it has been considered appropriate that MDP should provide that service and it is the subject of a customer supplier agreement specifically with the Royal Mint, and that is on repayment.

10   See Appendix 1 p 63. Back

11   See Appendix 1 p 63. Back

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