Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 300 - 313)



  300. Do they feel more confident about it? Has it changed the morale?
  (Mr Clarke) Most certainly they do. We were asked by yourselves to make sure that instructions were given to the force on that legislation, that happened straightaway in terms of briefing all officers of what their extended jurisdiction was. We also gave an undertaking to work very quickly on the protocol with home department forces. We were very quick out of the blocks with correspondence between ourselves and the Home Office. We had a draft to the Home Office before Christmas. That is under discussion with ACPO through John Giffard, the Chief Constable of Staffordshire. I was speaking with him yesterday, and we are well ahead of the game in terms of that protocol.

  301. There has been extensive progress on protocols with local police forces?
  (Mr Clarke) When I say extensive, we negotiate those formally through ACPO, John Giffard is the Chief Constable with that responsibility. I was speaking with him yesterday, he is very happy with the proposals that we have given and he has to consult that with other chief constables. I am very pleased with the progress that we have made in that regard.

  302. Earlier you mentioned the stability of MDP manning levels, what are the implications of the Act for manning levels? The increased powers within the Act do they just coincidentally fill the numbers that the MDP have. It is odd that despite the fact there is a change in powers and responsibilities you say that the MDP figures will remain the same for three years?
  (Mr Clarke) The reality was that we were seeking a change in jurisdiction for MDP to plug a gap, not for us to be able to extend our operating role and responsibility. There is no intention whatsoever for us to extend our operations, this is not mission creep, if you like, by MDP, therefore the additional powers were sought long before 11 September to plug what we saw as gaps. Of course we only took forward proposals which had been in the Armed Forces Bill post 11 September. That is why I am so sure that it is not going to lead, simply because we have no powers, to the need for more resources.

  303. I understand that the Committee heard about the force complement review at Aldermaston, when will that be finalised?
  (Mr Clarke) Quite frankly I am not sure. I know we are looking at the establishment and the complement at Aldermaston. That is for two reasons, one is in terms of our management. At the moment we treat Aldermaston and Burghfield as two separate sites and the MDP management control is two separate locations. We are looking to amalgamate that. It is not done in respect of cost saving, it is about the roles of MDP officers. That is going on, correctly so, with the management at the establishment and I would expect—I do not know whether it will be the next month or two months—proposals. Again, the object of the exercise is constantly looking at the role, how MDP officers are deployed, is that the best way, is that the best use of MDP officers and is it best use of complementary security and guarding operatives at those establishments?

   Chairman: It would be good if we could have a look at that, please?[14]

Mr Roy

  304. We visited Aldermaston last week and we were surprised to hear about the problems that were being encountered by the MDP, especially in relation to

  Some of the members were lucky enough to watch, or unlucky enough to be able to watch, a video of *** climbing the fence. We were very surprised to hear that once *** was in that the forces were very frustrated by the lack of procedures they could carry forward in regard to legislation. I have a couple of points on that, what are the MDP doing to rectify those problems at Aldermaston? Is it, (a) Aldermaston or is it, (b) Aldermaston and everywhere else? Is there a need to bring forward further legislation, for example one idea that was brought up last week was, is there a need to actually specify the name of a site, that we need to bring forward some sort of different trespass law? Is there any other legislation that needs to be brought forward, for example, to increase MDP powers in general?
  (Ms Craig) I will answer that. What has happened at AWE is that the MDP drew my attention to this several months ago and we held a meeting to consider what to do and as a result of that the defence estates experts went off to look at what could be done. The problem at AWE is that for historical reasons not all of the land within the boundaries is owned or leased by the Secretary of State, some of it is owned by West Berkshire Council, some belongs to private land owners. Our Defence Estates experts have for the last six months been working very hard to try and rectify that, they have been discussing with the local council and with the private landowners transferring these packages of land so that it becomes a much neater matter. They have made good progress. We are hopeful it will be completed by March, we cannot promise that it will be, because all of this depends on the willingness of the private land owners to co-operate but we are hoping that will be done by the end of March. Once it is done we will then be able to look at whether we need new bye-laws for AWE or not. It should also make it easier to bring injunctions against persistent trespassers once those boundaries issues have been clarified. On the more general question, this has not been a general problem for the MoD, really Aldermaston has been the main place at issue. But we have decided that we ought to do a review of whether we need primary legislation to cover defence lands. The main reason is that at the moment the situation of setting bylaws is governed by the Military Lands Act of 1892 and 1900, which are getting a bit long in the tooth, and they do not sit easily with modern methods of procurement and management of MoD land, such as, Public Private Partnerships and Private Finance Initiatives and contracting out. We have begun to find there are problems and we need to look at whether we ought to introduce primary legislation.

  305. Surely it is a general problem if the problem is caused. I know in Aldermaston we have this dispute about land, where that person trespasses, providing they are not trying to vandalise the place then surely that is a general problem to every type of MoD site?
  (Mr Clarke) If I may come in, you right, if people do not commit a criminal offence the question you really ask is, is it a criminal trespass, it is not a criminal trespass. As we stand at the moment there are two separate remedies, the first remedy is by the use of the bylaws and we see that in the bylaws the primary legislation in it, the enabling legislation is very long in the tooth and therefore those bylaws have been questioned. This is the frustration, if you like, in respect of Aldermaston, we are not able to take prosecution using those bylaws. The second remedy that we would have is in respect of injunctions, to injunct the individual to prevent them going into the premises, that is where we have had the problem in respect of ownership of the land. There are two options, this has not been aired previously, what you are asking is if they do not commit criminal damage, if they are not a terrorist threat what do we do with these individuals. I do not believe that MDP need any other legislation. I think it was certainly right we were not seeking anything under the terrorist legislation?

Mr Howarth

  306. That is not the view of your men, they were very unhappy. It is absurd to have a situation where the only remedy is an injunction. If you then have lots *** who have not done it before and they are caught in the middle of a facility and there is then no power to reprimand and prosecute those people then this is a licence to these people to come in and muck up the system. Secondly, of course, it makes it very difficult for your men to distinguish between these nuisances and the terrorists?
  (Mr Clarke) Absolutely. I am not minimising anything that is happening. I am very, very seized with the issues of staff hence why this has been raised with DGS&S. The options are to make sure we have bylaws we can apply, because we have not at the moment, to make sure we have the land in terms of injunctions and the third option might be, for argument's sake, if there was the criminal offence of trespass on MoD land similar to criminal practice on railways. We have not sought that legislation but let us get the first part of it right in respect of the land and in respect of the bylaws. I agree that it really very frustrating for officers on that establishment with what they are having to deal with day in and day out.

Mr Roy

  307. Surely it would be most advantageous if there was legislation and it said you should not trespass on Aldermaston, and name them, or more generally on MoD land. You specifically named where there had to be a difference because of national security then surely that would deter them?
  (Mr Clarke) I do accept that is an option for it to be criminal trespass on a specific site or MoD land.
  (Ms Craig) We will be looking at this.

  Chairman: We have flogged this. Mr Roy, I am not sure whether I misheard, I am not sure where you referred to ***

  Mr Roy: I said ***.

   Chairman: We will look very carefully at that. One more question.

Rachel Squire

  308. We are due to come on a bit later, I do not know whether we will, to the responses to the aftermath of the attacks. I am interested in what you are doing on a regular routine basis to test the defences of MoD sites to people trespassing or trying to do rather more serious things than that? For instance, we have been told about the exercises that are undertaken at Aldermaston, how often are such exercises conducted at other MoD sites?
  (Mr Cochrane) Are we talking now about exercises to counter terrorist incidents?

  309. Maintain the general security of the site.
  (Mr Cochrane) Before 11 September there was a regime in place and the nature of those exercises has been expanded to take account of the new threat. As an indication, normally speaking, they take place and every unit is required to conduct such an exercise at least once a year. This is not just a fact, it has been conducted13. Over and above that in the case of the Army there is the practice of a "no notice test exercise" being conducted at a regional level twice a year, whereby units will be identified at short notice and will be required to respond to a simulated incident of this sort. Over and above that the head of the establishment concerned carries the responsibility for ensuring that the plan that is in place works and is effective and it down to him or her to determine how frequently that needs to be tested.

  310. Am I right to say that you are suggesting that post 11 September there could be, if somebody feels that more than just an annual test exercise needs to be carried out that that will be possible?
  (Mr Cochrane) Absolutely.

  311. Right.

13  Note from Witness: Inspections confirm that exercises have not just been held, but effectively conducted.

  (Mr Cochrane) Generally speaking the guidance will say this is the minimum that should be done but the person carries the responsibility for ownership of that site and it is down to him or her to determine how much more frequently they need tests or what additional measures might be appropriate in those local circumstances.

  312. Some of those tests involve the MDP and the Armed Forces?
  (Mr Cochrane) Yes, they would, the resources at that particular site, yes. It would very possibly involve action with the local police in terms of reporting to them or liaising with them whatever the plans concerned involve.

  Rachel Squire: Thank you. I think Mr Clarke has already dealt with additional training following the legislation coming into force on 14 December.


  313. Thank you so much. We almost beat the longest session of the Committee, I did not want to inflict that on you, Baroness Symons has the record. It was very, very interesting and it raises all sorts of issues. You have not heard the last of us, we have a number of additional questions to ask, I am sorry.
  (Ms Craig) I have 10!

  Chairman: At least 10. Thank you all and your colleagues behind for providing a very interesting and very relevant addition to our research and our inquiry. Thank you very much.

14   See Appendix 1 p 63. Back

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