Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1240
TUESDAY 7 MAY 2002
CBE, AND DEPUTY
1240. The National Audit Office produced a report,
we had the witnesses from the ambulance service and I understand
at one stage the fire service might well have opted out. Do you
think there is a reasonable prospect that the different agencies
are going to operate from the same system or the system they use
will be interoperable with the system almost everybody else appears
to be using?
(Mr Goldsmith) My perception, Chairman, is that the
fire service would be happy to take it if the additional funding
were available and certainly the ambulance services are looking
at it because they have to replace their radio systems as well.
I understand they are looking at Airwave more favourably from
1241. So it is up to the Government to decide
whether this plea for additional resources is legitimate or can
be borne within the existing funding.
(Mr Goldsmith) Yes.
Chairman: The argument of different emergency
services operating different systems is so bizarre that I hope
something seriously will emerge. The last couple of questions.
1242. One question from me and because I am
not a wireless operator and I simply do not understand the question
I am going to read it and I hope one of you understands it. It
is simply this: do the police, the military and other blue light
services have adequate and properly interoperableI know
the meaning of thatand structured C3 systems with adequate
band-width security and anti-jam capabilities? Does one of you
know anything about that?
(Mr Goldsmith) I think my answer is that Airwave would
provide that to the best of my knowledge.
Mr Cran: I cannot argue with you.
1243. Recently there was a celebration here
and police officers around this building were carrying body armour
which was extremely heavy. Because of the terrorism incidents
there is a greater length of time officers are now using this
body armour, I hope that somewhere in the service someone is going
to look at lightweight protection because I can see in a few years'
time all of these policemen coming down with bad backs and losing
even more officers. If someone is looking at that that would be
interesting to me as a parliamentarian.
(Mr Goldsmith) A lot of work has gone into this. Basically
what we are looking for is a magic t-shirt that weighs absolutely
nothing, can be worn for eight hours and will protect you against
any possible attack.
1244. Frodo Baggins had one in Lord of the
(Mr Goldsmith) Such a product does not exist. The
nature of vests that will prevent gunshot from penetrating is
not necessarily the same as will prevent a knife attack. A lot
of work is being done centrally and work is going on, I can assure
you of that.
(Mr Veness) It is certainly the case that the officers
you will have met that night, because I know the commands they
are from and we are very vigorously looking at the options, they
do have protection at the moment which is very effective but you
are also right, Sir, it is cumbersome and it will lead over time
to people suffering adverse health.
1245. I had my ear severely bent by a very nice
(Mr Veness) Consider it passed on, Sir.
1246. When I attended the count at Walsall Town
Hall last Thursday most of the coppers there were wearing body
armour. I do not know what they expected inside the building,
maybe they had been given some kind of intelligence warning that
politics is pretty severe. It was not needed.
(Mr Goldsmith) In a number of forces, Norfolk being
an example, officers do wear body armour at all times.
1247. As a matter of routine?
(Mr Goldsmith) It is a matter of saying under health
and safety if we are aware that an officer could be at risk then
we, as an employer, have a responsibility to provide suitable
equipment. In Lincolnshire we are giving officers the option up
to a certain time but after that time at night they will be required
to wear it.
Chairman: Thank you very much to you both, it
was most instructive, and we appreciate you coming in.