Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 280 - 299)




  280. Fair point. Who is the adviser to CINC FLEET?
  (Mr Cochrane) We take the point, but he is not here today.

  Mr Hancock: Can we have a paper on why you do not have more active presence on the sea?

  Chairman: Point taken. We have another few questions to go.

Syd Rapson

  281. I wanted to draw in a supplementary which is based on the evolving of an establishment going from military management to civilian management in the public session, respectfully of DARA, which is the Defence Aviation Repair Agency, they used to have military presence, they used to have MDP police, etc, it evolved down to civilian management, dropped out the MoD police and relied upon guard service, with one policeman on the establishment with a gun. It worried me somewhat that the protection is only made for military personnel yet when it comes to the assets involved in establishments—such as where I used to work in Fleetlands is Gosport £500 billion worth of aircraft, which needs to back up the service if we are in a war situation—they are very vulnerable. There is no apparent security of any of the assets if they are not weapons or nuclear or military personnel, there is no protection at all. Since 11 September, and we are all very clever after the event, and I am not least amongst everyone else, the asymmetric type of warfare we are looking at is the unexpected and the economic, and the damage and disruption and knocking out assets worth half a billion pounds to the military could be a very successful coup, but it is nothing that we protect against. We have no guards at all there, we have no protection. Somebody should be looking at these isolated areas, not least St Athan's in Wales, which is even greater.
  (Ms Craig) If the assets were attractive to criminals or terrorists there would have to be a quick armed response available to look after them. If they are not then that requirement does not apply. We do have mandatory physical measures other than people that are laid down and there are guard forces in all of our establishments, of one kind or another, they may not necessarily be armed. I do not know the DARA case you mentioned.

  282. It is very worrying that those assets are easily accessible by determined terrorists and there is nothing done to protect them because there is no military personnel on site.
  (Ms Craig) One has to look at what sort of physical measures they have in terms of locking up—

  283. None
  (Ms Craig)—CCTV, and so on.

   Chairman: Can you let us know? I think you will have adduced so far that our discussions should result in at least a 20 per cent increase in your budget, at least, certainly an increase in the MoD police.

Syd Rapson

  284. We are watching in lot of cases the move from public service to private service and there is a political argument about that. We are seeing in MoD establishments a move from publicly run government establishments to private agencies and trading fund systems and there is a security change that is going on that none of us were aware of, a reduction in the protection of the MoD police and a change over to cheaper and less efficient guards servicing, and that is something that has come up in this morning's session?
  (Ms Craig) The move to agencies is not a move out of the MoD, trading funds are still part of the MoD and still abide by the rules that we lay down. It is always up to the local management to assess the guarding and physical security that they have and reach a risk judgment on what they need. I am sure that the Committee would expect the most cost effective measures to be taken. There are strict controls on money.

  Rachel Squire: I think I look forward to pursuing further the very good points that Mr Hancock made, especially as it just so happened that I was on the HMS Cumberland in the Iranian Gulf very shortly after the USS Cole bombing incident and thinking back I think, why did we not take more notice of that incident, given the subsequent tragedies. We are going to pursue that later on.

  Chairman: You were our deterrent I suspect!

Mr Jones

  285. Related to that, and this relates to a few things that have been said this morning about assessing risk, and what Mr Hancock said is right and your response to it is that it is on the "at risk" and you used the word "intelligence". Was not the most single failure of September 11 that intelligence did not tell us what was going to happen? In terms of what Mr Hancock described, quite rightly, it could happen, could it not, if we did not have any intelligence?
  (Ms Craig) Yes. When you are making your risk assessment you will judge the intelligence and you will also use your common sense and intuition, if you like, because the intelligence is always going to be patchy.

  286. It is smoke and mirrors and chicken bones, is it?
  (Ms Craig) It is based on long experience as well.


  287. When the MDP are deployed on US bases who has operational control, the Chief Constable or the US Commander?
  (Mr Clarke) Operational control of MDP officers always remains through a chain of MDP. Quite clearly there is very clear discussions and open discussions between MDP officers and the military establishment, the point in case would be Menwith Hill. In terms of the security plans on the base they are well worked through, and whose responsibility is what in respect of the deployment of MDP officers. To my knowledge it has worked exceptionally well and there have not been any difficulties.

  Chairman: Could you let us know what the rules of engagement for the United States military personnel operating within the United Kingdom? Do not answer now, if you could get that information for us, please. I am sure they are voluminous.[13]

Mr Cran

  288. I wonder if I can bring you back to the Quinquennial Review. The last time we spoke, which seems an awful long time ago, you spoke about the reserve that was going to be established. As I understand it further work is going to be done on that in Stage 2. Can you give us a time-frame?
  (Ms Craig) We hope it will be done by the summer. It is going to be quite an extensive piece of work and quite difficult to do, but we hope that is when it will be finished by.

  289. Who is on the QQR Team?
  (Ms Craig) That is an independent team which works for the owner of the agency, the second PUS and it is a very small group of people. They have an MDP policeman on the team.

  290. Just pursuing that a bit further, when it says "How large is this going to be?" I then go to the sub-note and it says, "We propose to address this upon the basis of a baseline planning scenario, eg assume, sustain and protest activity at X sites for Y weeks against terrorists alerted Z". Talk me through that?
  (Ms Craig) I did not understand that either. What they will be trying to do is to specify the most stretching set of circumstances that the MDP might have to deal with, in a nutshell.

  291. That is hardly scientific enough?
  (Ms Craig) It is not going to be scientific, but it will be a question of judgment.

  292. What about the man at the sharp end?
  (Mr Clarke) Interestingly enough the formula, and I understand when you look at it, what does it mean, came from the QQR team. You have to start from somewhere in terms of determining a reserve, a reserve to do what, a reserve against what threat? I think when the first draft of that was documented it was prior to 11 September. In particular what was in people's minds at that time was the protest activity at Menwith Hill and that which we constantly see on the Clyde. It was a case of how do we move resources from A to B. The additional resources from MDP always come from taking people from complemented posts and back-filling with overtime. There has never been a strategic reserve, as it were. What the Quinquennial Review are proposing is that there should be some planning assumptions, that is where you get this formula, and what might be the worse case scenario. Post 11 September almost the sky is the limit and it is how we actually get a realistic assumption. MoD have a role to play in that and we will play a role in that from MDP on the basis of the kind of incidents that we have experienced. It really is almost a blank sheet of paper at this stage.

  293. As we sit here now you as the professional at the sharp end of this police service have not got an idea in your mind how big this reserve should be.
  (Mr Clarke) No, I have not. It is fair to say neither have we sat on our hands because there is a reality from what happened prior 11 September that in the North of England, and Menwith Hill was a focus of attention, that we did not have assets in the North of England. We have an Operational Support Unit which is built into these kind of operations based at headquarters in Whethersfield. That is not satisfactory. What we have done is an adjustment of our staff, with additional money that comes on line from 1 April we will looking into having an operational support unit in the North of England as well as one in the South. That is a start, a moving in the direction of this reserve capacity. The reason why we have gone for that option at this stage, before any other scenario work is done, is on the basis that in any event there is a large military conurbation, if you like, in North Yorkshire. That is our rationale for siting it there. Plus, it is en route, as it were, to Scotland to the Clyde and it also where the nuclear convoys move, it is the route round the country. There is some rationale behind it.

  294. The idea of reserve seems to be a very good one, we would all support it, but at the same time the tendency of those that control the purse strings will to be to say, let us keep this as small as we can simply because you could have quite a number of people doing, as you said earlier, nothing.
  (Ms Craig) They will not be doing nothing. When they are not surging they will be combatting primary crime, providing civilian policing support to married quarters, if that requirement is confirmed, and also countering secondary crime. They are not going to be sitting round waiting for the call.

  295. Two technical questions, we have heard a lot of specifics about a lot of specific sites this morning, quite justifiably, in general terms is there a formula which governs the manning of these various sites and if there is a formula could you tell us?
  (Mr Clarke) Yes, there is a formula. We heard about complements and MDP complements, in the first instance a complement is arrived at with discussions with those who have the responsibility for the risk. Using the QQR we know what the outputs are that MDP should be doing.

  296. The QQR?
  (Mr Clarke) The Quinquennial Review. We know what the outputs should be. There are discussions between MDP and whoever the customer is to be. There is then a formula, we are getting into the weeds, one officer is required 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the formula is that that needs *** officers—do not ask now me how we got the ***—for each post 24 hours a day. That is how it is arrived at, the total complement for an establishment.

  297. We must go away and think about that. One last question, have the events of 11 September in any way prompted reconsideration of the functions between your officers, the MDP officers and the MoD guard service officers?
  (Mr Clarke) No, it has not prompted anything specifically new in that regard. Again, there is a relationship on every establishment, that is the responsibility of the head of establishment, to ensure that the actual practical working arrangements between MDP and MGS is correct at each establishment. Does that answer your question?

  Mr Cran: Yes.


  298. Over the years there have been furtive attempts at considering arming the Guard Service—that was tantamount to arming cleaners, in the early days before they came very professional, I would like to add—is there any secret document circulating?
  (Ms Craig) No, I can assure you, neither furtive nor open, there are no plans for that.

Mr Crausby

  299. Since the introduction in the 2001 Anti-terrorism Act, which extended MDP powers, particularly outside of the MoD site, beyond the wire powers that we were effectively proceeding with in the Armed Forces Bill, how have MDP operations changed since then? Have these new powers made a real difference to security?
  (Mr Clarke) Yes, they have. In particular there are four specific circumstances after 14th December when legislation was enacted, then one of those circumstances drops out to the use of powers under the Act. Specifically it has been in response to Section two, which was mutual aid, I know that was of particular concern to the select committee, whereby the chief constable of a force has asked the MoD to provide support. The first instance is in North Yorkshire and comes as a result of joint armed patrols of an MDP officer and a North Yorkshire officer. Significantly, and I know this was of concern, who had operational command and control. I have spoken to the Chief Constable, Mr Kenworthy in North Yorkshire, and have done that in a written protocol. A second use, officers have used their powers to stop and search under the terrorist legislation, that has been joint patrols. There has been about 20 stops and searches under terrorist legislation. The second, I think it is more in the spirit rather than the reality of the legislation, is the deployment of armed officers round the old War Office. Technically speaking the officers are still on MoD land and still have jurisdiction because they are on the steps. The reality is they are in public view and, therefore, in the spirit of the legislation I have entered into a written protocol with the Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police so that they know specifically where armed officers are. I referred to the deployment of MDP officers with the MV Nisha incident, again that was using Section 2 of the new legislation which was in respect of mutual aid. Last, but by no means least, and it was touched on a little earlier, is in respect of a new power for MDP, MDP officers having jurisdiction to protect defence personnel within civilian establishments.

  Interesting, of course, is the officers have not had to exercise the power because it is only if an incident happens that you then use the powers. It is quite right that MDP officers know that they have the support of legislation, and that it is as and when needed.

13   See Appendix 1 p 63. Back

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