House of COMMONS
MINUTES OF EVIDENCE
Tuesday 27 January 2009
GENERAL SIR DAVID RICHARDS KCB CBE DSO ADC
and BRIGADIER JAMES EVERARD OBE
MR ROD JOHNSON and MR BRODIE CLARK
USE OF THE TRANSCRIPT
Taken before the Defence Committee
on Tuesday 27 January 2009
Mr James Arbuthnot, in the Chair
Mr David S Borrow
Mr Adam Holloway
Mr Bernard Jenkin
Mr Brian Jenkins
Mrs Madeleine Moon
Memorandum submitted by the Ministry of Defence
Examination of Witnesses
Witnesses: General Sir David Richards KCB CBE DSO ADC Gen (Late Royal Regiment of Artillery), as Commander-in-Chief, Land Forces, is also Standing Joint Commander (UK) (SJC(UK)) with responsibility for the provision of military aid to civil power within the United Kingdom, and Brigadier James Everard OBE, Director Commitments, HQ Land Commitments, Ministry of Defence, gave evidence.
Q189 Chairman: Good morning and welcome to the Committee, General Sir David Richards and Brigadier Everard. This is a further evidence session in relation to national security. General Richards, as CINCLAND, you are in charge of the military aid to civil authorities and I wonder if you could begin by telling us what that involves and what you do in relation to that, what provision you make and what it is all about, please.
General Sir David Richards: Chairman, it is very good to be back in front of you again. I have some brief opening remarks which capture the essence of the answer to your question, if you are happy for me to go that way, and I will keep it very short. When it comes to the commitment of military capability in support of the civil authorities, and even though our doctrine and, I think, our procedures too are very well-developed, the devil is in the detail in interpretation, in resource, in expectation and, I think, very importantly where we go next, which I suspect you will be wanting to explore. In what is a complex inter-agency arena, we perhaps should not be surprised at that, but getting to grips with it and getting all those different elements to work coherently and in a high tempo, I think, is an area that, as I say, we might explore. I have been 12 months as the Standing Joint Commander (United Kingdom). I have certainly come in that time, having had no experience really of it before, to better understand our approach, the risks we take and the need for transparency. From this foundation, and to inform your opening question, I thought I would just make the following points. In my judgment, we have collectively made really significant progress in the country's ability to respond to disruptive challenges. The Cabinet Office's Civil Contingencies Secretariat deserves, I think, great credit at delivering real cross-government and inter-agency co-ordination. As Category 1 and Category 2 responders have raised their game in response to that pressure, so the demands on defence and, therefore, on my role have decreased. The Armed Forces are relatively small when compared to the numbers of personnel in the emergency services, the Health Service, local authorities and the utility providers, so this reduction in pressure on us is obviously welcome. As the SJC (UK), I am responsible for the planning, force-generation, deployment, conduct, sustainment and recovery of defence assets conducting military operations in the UK, and I think it is important, though I suspect you know this, but perhaps I may just reinforce this, to understand that I am not at the centre of the web, if you like, but work to the MoD in support of the civil authorities. Indeed, the Chief of Defence Staff provides me with an operational directive and my role is actually quite limited and very clear, and that is a small, standing, joint, and I emphasise it is joint, command headquarters down with the rest of my Land Forces headquarters at Wilton. That directs this activity on a daily basis, supported by the Land Forces' regional chain of command and joint regional liaison officers, or JRLOs, generating defence capability in support of those responsible for managing and commanding the response to disruptive challenges. Now, this headquarters is pretty lean, but I think it is sufficient and we scrubbed it last autumn to make sure that it was fit for task. I am assured that the Committee does understand the range of capabilities effectively guaranteed by defence, and I could go through it if you want, but it is things like search and rescue. In some cases, this level of support is very clearly articulated, such as the SAR capability, but elsewhere there is a question over exactly what is guaranteed.
Q190 Chairman: 'SAR' being search and rescue.
General Sir David Richards: Yes, so what is guaranteed and in what depth. Our ECBRN, explosive ordnance disposal, chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear, and technical response force capabilities are cases in point. As C-in-C Land Forces, I concede to a concern that there may be an inevitable gap between what other government departments expect and what Defence is mandated to, and can, deliver, and this carries, I think amongst other things, significant potential reputational risk. Clarity, I think, is critical, as in all things, and I am of the opinion that we should place defence support on a more secure and transparent footing. We should look at establishing clear statements of requirement with lead government departments underpinned by, what we might call, service-level agreements, and, as you know, others have reached a similar conclusion when examining this area. Similarly, we have got a brigade called the '2nd (National Communications) Brigade' and it does do what the SDR New Chapter said it would do, providing the deployable element of a national communications infrastructure and some specialist communications in support of defence assets deployed on UK operations. I visited them late last summer and I was very impressed by what I saw; they do undoubtedly a first-class job. However, any assumption that the Brigade provides an independent and dedicated communications and information spine in support of civil effect across the UK would be incorrect. I am clear in what I have tasked the Brigade to do, but I again believe that a formal SOR of some kind would be sensible.
Q191 Chairman: 'SOR' being a statement of requirements.
General Sir David Richards: Yes.
Q192 Mr Jenkin: We all knew that of course!
General Sir David Richards: I think the Chairman did know that, but certainly my wife, who is in the audience, did not know what it was! In terms of wider capability, the Civil Contingencies Reaction Forces, CCRF, concept is perhaps the one measure falling out of the SDR New Chapter that has not been exploited. I think that, when we looked at that, the bottom line is that we have not faced an emergency of such scale and complexity or duration that requires them and, as a result, we have used regular manpower. The Potton(?) Review, which I know you are aware of, has looked at the CCRF concept and the MoD is, again as I think you know, considering the recommendations in that report. My final point is that of additional augmentation of UK operations from regular forces in the event of a national emergency, and I am very clear on this. We basically do what we are told and, yes, we must be clear that the skills, equipment and the capabilities of the Armed Forces are designed primarily, quite evidently, for military use. Now, given the pressure in Afghanistan and, for now anyway, in Iraq, success on current operations in those places is absolutely my top priority, as you would expect. However, we all fully accept that in an emergency the Government will do, rightly, what is necessary to protect what is necessary, and the single greatest advantage of aligning the appointments of Commander-in-Chief Land Forces and the Standing Joint Commander (UK) is my ability to rapidly reprioritise in response to fresh orders, and I think that is why I, for one, having genuinely looked at the command and control arrangements objectively, and why we came down to it remaining as it is, which I think a recent DOC audit also supported. Finally, you mentioned him, but Brigadier James Everard runs this on a day-to-day basis for me and, where I expose my limitations, I am sure James will come to the rescue. He was my Chief of Staff in 4 Armoured Brigade many years ago, so I think we can trust him!
Q193 Chairman: Is there anything in this area that keeps you awake at night?
General Sir David Richards: I suppose at the back of my mind is 2012. The government ministries are all alert to the necessary work and are getting on with it. I would like to get clarity on what might be required of the Armed Forces as soon as possible really because, with all the other pressure on us, that would be helpful because, if we do have to retrain, create new units, IED specialists and all that sort of thing, the sooner we get clarity, the better, but, otherwise, no. I have no axe to grind on this and I have been really impressed going around at how much, over the last four years, other government departments and the civil services have actually raised their game immensely, particularly obviously the police, the fire service and so on, so we really are providing routinely just a few niche capabilities with that reserve against Armageddon that you would all expect us to provide.
Q194 Mr Jenkin: Going back to the foot and mouth crisis, do you recall the chance meeting of Brigadier Birtwistle and the then Prime Minister in a hotel in Carlisle, I think it was, which resulted in the deployment of military forces to help with that crisis, and referring to your point about the differences of expectation between what the military can provide and what government departments expect, do you think other government departments fully appreciate the capacity of senior military decision-makers to plan and operate in unexpected circumstances? It is not really a cost point because the back of the envelope that Brigadier Birtwistle did for the Prime Minister which transformed the management of that crisis cost nothing, but there had been months of stand-off between Defra and the Ministry of Defence, and I do not know whether it was pride or ignorance, but it really was a period in which the crisis got considerably worse because of that lack of appreciation.
General Sir David Richards: I think there was some of that, to be frank, but I do not detect it today. We are routinely exercising with other government departments and the people under them and my territorial regional brigade commanders report the atmospherics as very good. I would say that, when push comes to shove, as you are implying, our core task, the thing we do better than probably anything else, is to analyse, plan and implement under pressure, and we are there to help them. Our JLROs are deployed with them on every exercise they do and I have had some very nice letters, saying, "Thank you very much for the role of Lieutenant Colonel whoever", so I recognise what you are saying, but I think familiarity is breeding greater mutual confidence and our methods, our staff skills, have been imported to some of their processes.
Q195 Chairman: Does it matter that, if the military are called in in aid of the civil authorities, it might be seen as a criticism of the effectiveness of those civil authorities, that they have failed?
General Sir David Richards: It should not matter if it is required because clearly dealing with the emergency is what we should all focus on and worry about reputations later. I would like to think that the imperative of the moment would be the thing that dominates who does what, but I can imagine, as you are inferring, that maybe some people are rather over-focused on the former, so yes, it is something to be aware of.
Q196 Mr Jenkin: Should there be permanent liaison officers in police headquarters so that that cultural divide is broken down between gold commanders and the Armed Forces?
General Sir David Richards: I do not think it is necessary because the JLRO system, which is quite cheap and efficient, those officers go round all the police stations or the chief constables, the people they will work with in a civil emergency, and I think they have got very good relations. To find permanent liaison officers for every part of the UK, where probably these things are containable under the current system, would be quite expensive. Give me the resources to do it, yes, it is a jolly good idea. The one area I would see, going back to my point about 2012, is that at some point the command and control arrangements for 2012 will firm up and I think at that point there may be a case for that sort of detailed and enduring liaison within the agencies that we know are going to deal with any emergency wrapped round that, but, otherwise, I think we are okay.
Q197 Chairman: In view of the internalisation of the threats that we face, in view of the fact that the communications between Pakistan and Afghanistan and many places in the United Kingdom are instant, the fact that what happens in South East Asia or South Asia and the United Kingdom is so closely linked, do you think that the distinction between what the military does in the United Kingdom, namely aid to the civil authorities, and what the military does abroad is now an anachronism? This is a Chris Donnelly point.
General Sir David Richards: Yes, I have heard him talk about this. There is something in it. Certainly, generally we do not yet know properly how to dominate the information spectrum and just monitor it in the way we need and contain the threats that can emanate through the ability to talk to each other in the way you are suggesting. It is not a task that we have been given to examine it. We do obviously work very hard on it abroad, but, in that key linkage between places like Pakistan and the UK, I am not qualified to go into any detail and it is certainly not in my list of responsibilities, though I think it is an area that other people are monitoring and working on, but I think that may be something we would have to talk about not in a public session.
Q198 Chairman: But it merits further consideration ----
General Sir David Richards: Absolutely.
Q199 Chairman: ---- particularly in the light of what you said in your opening answer about the need to revisit the whole picture?
General Sir David Richards: Yes, absolutely. I think it is a key area for all of us generically.
Q200 Linda Gilroy: You gave us a fairly clear idea of the resources and commitment to planning for provision in civil emergencies, but I wonder if you can just give the Committee a further idea of the sort of scale of that commitment. I assume that it involves the resilience exercises and what does that, in a typical month or year, look like?
General Sir David Richards: To make sure he earns his keep this morning, James organises all these things.
Brigadier Everard: We do run a comprehensive training programme, exercise programme, throughout the year and, in anticipation that that would be one of the questions that was asked, I have brought a list of those resilience exercises which have taken place in the UK to which we have contributed or have run, I think, throughout the last year and it runs to a full page, covering every aspect. Indeed, if I were not here today, I would be on exercise four star down in Warminster which has a gold commander there and all the agencies looking at one particular aspect of our ability to respond to a crisis, so I think it is pretty comprehensive and grows annually as more people, particularly the Cat 1 responders, come on board and start running their own exercises, as they are mandated to do under the Civil Contingencies Act.
Q201 Linda Gilroy: I take it that that could be available to the Committee rather than running through the detail of it. I think the other aspect I wanted to ask about, and again you have given us something of the flavour of it, is in relation to horizon-scanning, the response you gave to the Chairman's question about what keeps you awake at night, but also, when you said to us that you take your context from what the MoD do, can you just give the Committee an idea of how that horizon-scanning happens and how it affects what you plan?
General Sir David Richards: I have prepared some stuff on this. Of course, it is the sort of thing we do all the time when looking at deployed operations. Here, the MoD are primarily responsible for horizon-scanning because it does involve all government agencies and government departments, but at a national level the Civil Contingencies Secretariat is actually responsible for doing it and we play a role, particularly when it gets down to the regional and local level, in validating the sort of work that they are doing. I do not know, but do you, James, get involved in the detail at the higher level because that is really my bit of it?
Brigadier Everard: Not at the moment. There is an MoD branch, and I think Brigadier Chip Chapman was here at one of your earlier sessions, and that CT&UK Ops Branch are our link into the Civil Contingencies Secretariat for that high-level horizon-scanning. Beneath that, there is a raft of work drawing on our own Concepts and Doctrine Centre and the Defence Academy to refine our ability to respond. Again, because it is difficult to articulate how much work there is unless you see it, I would bring up here, because I think it might be of interest, our own standing operation instructions which represent all the contingency plans that exist, so, if you want to know how to get a helicopter, this will tell you exactly how many helicopters are available at any one time and where you go to get them. If you want to know, you name it, how to get hold of a communications specialist or someone from the Atomic Weapons Establishment, it is all in here with phone numbers, and all of that has really fallen out of the horizon-scanning work we have done or drilling into those national resilience assessments or assumptions that have fallen out of the Cabinet Office. Again, I pass that round if people are interested to have a look at it.
Q202 Chairman: Is that classified?
Brigadier Everard: That is not classified, so we circulate that widely so that everybody involved in resilience understands what we can do, and it is a sort of supporting adjunct to the capabilities catalogue as a non-classified version and again a classified version which underpins our ability to respond.
Q203 Linda Gilroy: So are there any other things? I am trying to get this sort of balance between lessons learned from previous civil emergencies, but also the picture you have given us that that is changing, the civil response is much better to that and that of course the threats that are there are also changing. What are the other things that maybe do not keep you awake at night, but which give you considerable pause for thought?
General Sir David Richards: Well, I would emphasise again that my focus is deployed operations, so I have routinely a conscience in James Everard and his small joint team that really are very dedicated, and they are also joint because they are within HQ Land Forces, which is sometimes forgotten. They are the ones that on a day-to-day basis are horizon-scanning, doing the work with other government departments, particularly the MoD. I think it is really terrorism and the sort of work the Chairman mentioned of Chris Donnelly, who is a very good friend of mine and in fact we are together later today, looking at the full scale of where defence might have to be deployed over the next ten to 20 years in an away-day, it is that sort of work that I focus on to make sure that I come back and say to someone like James, "Have we factored this into the work done by that joint staff downstairs in our cellars?" It is not random, but the work done focused on the UK is part of a much wider piece of work, and I think that is probably right, going back to the Chairman's point, that it is all so interlinked in a globalised world that that is the way it has got to be, and then I cherry-pick bits that I want then to focus on in respect of UK resilience.
Q204 Robert Key: General, the architecture of all this is really rather complicated, is it not? We have got the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism in the Home Office, the Prime Minister chairs a ministerial Committee on Security and Terrorism and we have the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre at MI5 in Thames House which reports to the Cabinet Office. How do you ensure that the Ministry of Defence is kept in the loop? On a day-to-day basis, is the Ministry of Defence actually keeping up with the work of all those other agencies?
General Sir David Richards: Well, there is a one-star director, Brigadier Chapman, who, I think, has appeared in front of you, whose almost exclusive job is to maintain those links, but I personally do not do it. I do not want to flog a dead horse, but I am quite down the food chain here. Whilst my staff keep tabs on it and I go on the odd exercise, for me this is just one of many tasks that I can have laid on me. I am content, from the times I am exposed to it, that the relations seem to me to work, but I would say that they could probably be a lot clearer and crisper and maybe that is one of the things that will come out of the horizon-scanning work in relation to 2012. My own view, having done a few overseas operations, is that it was Omar Bradley that said that professionals taught logistics and amateurs taught tactics. I have said for many years now that actually professionals taught command and control first, then logistics and then tactics, and I suppose that is a mantra that has not yet permeated all the way through this particular area and there are bureaucratic rivalries that we have got to ease out. It works, but I suspect it could be better.
Q205 Robert Key: Do the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force act completely independently of you or, as Standing Joint Commander, do you co-ordinate their military aid to the civil authorities as well?
General Sir David Richards: Yes, very much so. It is a joint headquarters and we again examined it last summer. The Vice Chief of Defence has a meeting of the three single Service Commanders-in-Chief every three months. We went through this, they communed with their conscience, whether they are unhappy with a soldier doing their bit, and they gave me the thumbs-up. There is an option that the Chief of Defence Staff could, in a particular circumstance, say, "I'm not giving it to Richards, I'm giving it to Stanhope" or whoever it might be, but most of the effects will be on the land and, therefore, even though aircraft, for example, are involved, it often usually would make sense for us to take the lead, and we do this all the time anyway. We have this, as you will know, supporting and supported relationship and I am the supported commander because I am the one that will have to look after most of the impact of any incident, but it works well. I can imagine that where it might not, for example, be me could be if an oilrig were attacked and there is no major obvious land role there, so I suspect that would go to the Navy, for example.
Q206 Robert Key: The Committee visited the Counter-Terrorism Science and Technology Centre at Porton Down in my constituency in October and I think we were very impressed by the vast range of activities they do and their immense capability there. I think we got a sense that they were rather frustrated, that they were fighting an uphill battle in persuading other government agencies of what they can offer. Do you have a view on that and how should they, or could they, be better promoted?
General Sir David Richards: Well, I have been there and it is very impressive and I did pick up the same worries. I think this is the point we are getting about command and control. We need more clarity and the idea of SORs that brings that clarity is something that we are hoping to see during this year. To reassure you, when preparing for this session, I dug into these things and they are on the case, as I said to the Chairman at the beginning, though maybe I am getting a bit impatient to see the results, but they are aware of that sort of issue.
Q207 Chairman: That is particularly in relation to, for example, 2012?
General Sir David Richards: I think that, to be frank, sort of galvanised action, yes. Everyone is aware that there are risks over that period that we want to be fully prepared for in good time, and the organisation you have referred to could play a key role in some of the possible scenarios that are being examined, so we all ought to be quite clear who does what and who is responsible to whom for what, and that area is yet a bit murky.
Brigadier Everard: Just to add, if I may, that particular organisation, which we have a lot of contact with, works at the DSTL in Porton Down, but it is not a DSTL agency, and actually works with the MoD and the Chief Scientific Adviser, so they come and contribute to our exercises, but I understand that it is his office that is driving the ability to take on that role of a sort of one-stop shop for CT expertise.
Q208 Robert Key: Sir David, if I could stay with these training exercises for a moment, and we know they have them, how do you satisfy yourself that Army units are ready to deploy in an emergency and work seamlessly with fire brigades, the police and so on?
General Sir David Richards: Again, I might ask James because James is responsible for it.
Brigadier Everard: For those niche capabilities that we are mandated to provide, specific training goes on to ensure that they are trained to the standard that they need to train to. For augmented manpower, of course we are drawing on the general capabilities of the Army, hence the fact we have SJC headquarters located next to Land Commitments so that we can identify the best courses to do the job that is required. I have been doing this job for a year and nine times out of ten what people are after is just trained manpower, a body of people who can react to circumstances, and that is what we produce on a daily basis anyway.
Q209 Robert Key: What specific training do the Army, the Navy and the Air Force units have in preparation for military assistance to civil authorities?
Brigadier Everard: Over and above those troops that are pitched against those niche capabilities, none. We do not specifically train our forces to contribute to MACA; it is a task that falls out of their military training anyway.
General Sir David Richards: The role that we tend to fill, picking up on James's point about what the other agencies want, is quality-trained manpower. That is what we are. The issues are not nearly as demanding normally, we could do some horizon-scanning and obviously there are big implications with some of the sort of worst-case things, but normally all that this requires is a commander with a team that can analyse, plan and implement quickly under pressure, and that is our core business, so we do not think, for the vast majority of instances, things like flood relief operations, for example, that it is that difficult, given that that is what we practise in all the time, albeit the subject matter is different. That does not mean that we do not need sappers with boats because of course also they do that on normal military operations, so, give or take the whole raft of things, the 90 per cent of the things we might be called in to help over, they are there anyway, but, instead of applying it to the operations in Iraq or Afghanistan, we apply it to probably usually much-easier-to-cope-with, if I am frank, operations in the UK.
Q210 Robert Key: Could I ask for a little update on what is happening at the Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear Centre at Winterbourne Gunner, where, I know, the Army, Navy and Air Force attend for training in those areas, and of course next to it is the Police National College for Training as well. Is there co-ordination, therefore, between the police and military forces at Winterbourne Gunner or are they completely separate establishments?
Brigadier Everard: I do not know the answer to that question and I have not been to Winterbourne Gunner. Of course, in terms of our UK ops response to EOD, we have the Joint Services EOD Centre at Didcot. They have a standing authority to deploy in support of the civil authorities in the event of a CBRN or actually an EOD requirement and they have very good links with the other agencies, including maritime and indeed police who provide those capabilities, so, on the exercises I have been to, I have seen that joint training in action. Whether at Winterbourne Gunner it takes place, I do not know.
General Sir David Richards: If we may, can we come back to you on that?
Robert Key: Yes, please. I would be grateful. Thank you very much.
Chairman: Moving on to funding and Bernard Jenkin.
Q211 Mr Jenkin: How happy are you with the funding arrangements for MACA?
General Sir David Richards: Well, for what we are mandated to do at the moment, it seems to work. If we provide an EOD team to another government department, Defence gets paid for it and, therefore, it does not have to come out of the Army's hide, for example. Whether it would work in a large-scale disaster of some kind where a nuclear bomb was let off in the docks or something like that, I can only imagine that it should because, at the scale we are doing it, it seems to work very well, but I suppose scale would then become a different issue, but we have not had any problems with it to date.
Brigadier Everard: No. I think the funding and repayment regime, the rules are set by the Treasury and we apply them as best we can, so I think that works well. For those niche capabilities, of course they are mandated in Defence Planning Guidance and we are funded to provide those.
Q212 Mr Jenkin: But the DCDC publication Operations in the UK: The Defence Contribution to Resilience sets out the principles of funding, and the key principle seems to be, "If the cost is not applicable to defence, then it represents an improper use of resources and must be recovered", but does that not inhibit capacity-building in the Ministry of Defence and does that not discourage government departments from using perhaps dormant capability because the cost of deploying it is in fact prohibitive, particularly if you are going for full recovery of costs?
General Sir David Richards: I can identify with what you have just suggested, but, in a way from a defence perspective, where our priority quite clearly now is mandated to be on deployed operations outside the United Kingdom, anything which, however accidentally, forces others to do what they are supposed to do for fear that it will be more expensive if they come to us maybe is not a bad thing. I suspect that has been a catalyst for some of the investment, very good investment, that we have seen in the last four years, so there is another side to it. Should we do it for others? Well, there is an argument for saying we should, but actually, as far as the Government is concerned, it is not our job primarily anymore, but we are there in support of others who should make the necessary investment.
Q213 Mr Jenkin: But, if it were easier for you to support capacity to do some of these tasks, which of course then would be available capacity for other tasks when not required by MACA, that would be in the national interest, would it not?
General Sir David Richards: Well, I can absolutely understand that case, but we are not paid at the moment to do it, so I would not want to do it unless it is in the way that you have just described. We need to be properly resourced to do any more and that is why we are so keen, and perhaps it would be helpful if you emphasise this if you agree, that we do tidy up what we are required to do through some sort of SOR process that tells us this and then we will do it, but the rather sort of 'come as you are', which we have got to avoid, can be muddling. We need to know what it is, pay us to do it and we will provide the capability, but it is a little bit murky at the moment.
Q214 Mr Jenkin: But of course the charging levels are rather malleable in that there can be full costs' recovery, there can be marginal costs' recovery or the costs might be waived.
General Sir David Richards: Yes.
Q215 Mr Jenkin: Are you happy that this is stability in terms of what the Ministry of Defence is going to get paid for? Are expectations fulfilled?
General Sir David Richards: So far, normally our expectations have been fulfilled because it is a collaborative effort. Have you got any more detail to help answer that question because you get involved with it?
Brigadier Everard: Well, I am lucky in the fact that the charging regime is an MoD responsibility and, for example, I would expect the MoD to waive costs in the event of a maxi Cat A saving-life venture. Intermediate costs, if there was a training benefit to us, again we probably would not seek recovery of costs, but again we are, I think, constrained by the envelope we work in and that says that, for those tasks you are not formally mandated to do in Defence Strategic Guidance, you seek recovery of the money in the charging regime as set out by the Treasury, so, unless those rules are changed, that is what we will continue to do.
General Sir David Richards: Of course we do not get involved in it. We provide the troops and whatever might be required and then it is for the MoD to decide the regime.
Q216 Mr Jenkin: I appreciate I am asking slightly outside your remit, but it has been very helpful, the answers you have been giving. There is a footnote about national interest, that, "MoD will not waive costs on grounds of national security". I think people would be rather surprised by that statement. Can you think of any example when the national interest criterion for waiving MACA charging has been fulfilled?
General Sir David Richards: I do not know, but, I agree with you, I think it does sound rather surprising.
Q217 Mr Jenkin: Would that be the large-scale things?
General Sir David Richards: Yes, that would come in that category. No, you are educating me; I find that interesting.
Q218 Chairman: But putting context, that statement is followed by, "Those aspects of national security for which the MoD has responsibility are funded within the defence budget", in other words, pretty much what you have been saying ----
General Sir David Richards: Yes.
Q219 Chairman: ---- that even national security does, in certain circumstances, come under the budgets of departments other than the Ministry of Defence.
General Sir David Richards: Yes.
Q220 Mr Jenkins: Could I take you back, General. You have said that in the last four years some of the agencies that you would normally have supplied resources to stepped up to the mark maybe because of the pricing regime. Is that correct?
General Sir David Richards: I think it might have been a factor in their decision. I think there were other factors, but that might be one.
Q221 Mr Jenkins: That would raise a little bit of concern in my mind that we might be duplicating resources now in that event, so are you saying, and maybe you are, that at the present time it may be better for other agencies to step up to the mark and take over those areas that the military are now responsible for to allow the military to use their resources, hard-pressed as they are, on its commitments elsewhere? Is it possible that the domestic agencies could carry out those tasks at the same level?
General Sir David Richards: I suppose it is possible, but it would then raise the absolutely right issue you have just mentioned of duplication. I think there are certain key areas, like search and rescue and EOD specialists, where to reinvent that wheel and get others to invest in a huge amount of training and the resourcing of it probably would not make any sense. I would just emphasise that the areas in which we are mandated to respond are very small now and there are a few niche capabilities that avoid the issues that you have just raised very interestingly, and I do not see any of them now slipping further towards the civilian agencies. I think the ones we have got are about right, given that it takes a lot of time and effort to become an EOD specialist, for example. It suits us, funnily enough, to have a capability in the UK if for no other reason than we can rotate people through operational deployments and times at home so that they do not get too tired and fed up going abroad.
Chairman: We may come back to this in just a moment.
Q222 Mr Jenkins: I am now getting to the point where I am thinking that, if that is the case, if we have got now some residual component that is not met in any other fashion, why is it not fully financed and resourced rather than this charging between different departments?
General Sir David Richards: Which one are you thinking of?
Q223 Mr Jenkins: Air sea rescue, for instance.
Brigadier Everard: I think this is a very good example where the police capacity in EOD has grown certainly since the Civil Contingencies Act came out, probably the result of 9/11 and other events like that, so, although we do a substantial number of call-outs, and there were something like 2,900 last year, it is less than we used to do because that police capability has grown.
Q224 Chairman: I do apologise, but 'EOD' is explosive ----
Brigadier Everard: Explosive ordnance disposal. I think the point the Commander-in-Chief made earlier in terms of what we can provide, at the moment we provide a car, but we do not specify what car or for what duration and that is what we need to drill into. We provide a very good capability, but it is from our latent capacity, so do people need more than that? That is what we are trying to drill into in these areas.
Q225 Mr Holloway: What impact have our commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan had on the readiness of the Armed Forces to respond to a sort of domestic emergency?
General Sir David Richards: Well, the niche capabilities which we are mandated to provide are not affected by EOD, SOR and so on, which I think you are aware of. Obviously, if there were a sort of catastrophic multi-city emergency, the fact that we have got lots of people deployed would make our response to that more difficult self-evidently, but, that said, this is sort of what we train to do to respond to the unexpected, that, at short notice, we have the command and control arrangements in place. At the moment, there are roughly 12,000 deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan together, therefore, there is still a lot of Army left back here on which we could call if we need to and of course that is why we have not actually called out the CCRF before now, so I think it has an effect at the margins, but not fundamentally.
Q226 Mr Holloway: Obviously, we have heard what you had to say about A war and B war, but do you think that now we are fighting a different sort of war where attacks can take place on our soil where again we could have mass casualties amongst the civilian population, and do you think we need to think about restructuring or rebalancing our Armed Forces to deal with that kind of challenge?
General Sir David Richards: I do, and obviously you are aware broadly that I do. That is work that has been accepted as to what is the nature of future conflict and are we geared up for the right one, and this is a subset of that. That work is going on and the Secretary of State has called a meeting over the next two days specifically to examine it, so, although, I think as ever, it has taken us time to grapple with the implications of contemporary operations, I think we now are firmly on the case and, as I said, the 2012 Olympics with some of the more lurid things that the horizon-scanning process has suggested could happen has been a catalyst to accelerating that work, so yes is the answer. I do not know how it will come out, but lots of people have strong views on it and it is a fascinating thing to be involved in.
Q227 John Smith: Does that include geographical restructuring and reconfiguration within the United Kingdom so that our Forces are physically better-placed to be able to respond to large-scale crises in the regions, Wales and Scotland?
General Sir David Richards: It has not got to that; it is quite embryonic. I suppose, if you are one end of that type of thinking, that is the sort of thing we would have to examine. My view is that that is not necessary. We have troops and, if you look at London, for example, there are troops in Colchester and Aldershot, all around it, but do you want them actually in the middle where they could be caught up in something? I think it will not be necessary, but there is no reason and maybe we should examine it, particularly looking at other cities, have we got enough up in the North or whatever it might be, so it is a factor which will be played into the debate, and rightly so.
Q228 Mrs Moon: You have talked a lot about the gap between what is expected and what can be delivered and about the need for a service-level agreement to be clearly put in place, but I am wondering, and it is picking up some of what Brian was trying to get at, could some of the capabilities which the Armed Forces currently supply for domestic emergencies, is there someone else that can actually provide it and perhaps could provide it cheaper which would then free you up? The military becoming the default position for support, is it actually the best use of your resources financially and literally because what you are talking about that you provide is a body of trained manpower, so is there another body of trained manpower that actually the civil authorities could go to which would free you up?
General Sir David Richards: The most important large body of trained manpower is obviously the police, but I emphasise that at the moment things have moved on a lot in the last four years, so, whereas we were the default setting for certainly the larger-scale emergencies, for example, the foot and mouth emergency last year, we did not play a major role in that at all, whereas, four years earlier, we ran it, as Mr Jenkin said earlier, so I think things have moved on a great deal. I think probably what we do provide, which no one else ultimately can, is large numbers of very well-trained and well-commanded people to respond to the unexpected. As I said earlier, that is our core business, to analyse, plan and implement, and I think it is a great strength with very clear command and control arrangements. All the other areas conceivably, including the niche capabilities, you could, going back to Mr Jenkins' point, give to other people, but I think that probably the balance is about right because we need those capabilities ourselves, I need to rotate people through them for good harmony reasons and it is actually very good training for them to get involved in EOD emergencies, closed ordnance device disposal emergencies, on the mainland, so I think the balance is about right, but it is something we could continue to explore.
Q229 Mrs Moon: Just going off piste a little bit, how helpful actually is it for the military, in terms of military learning and understanding, to actually engage with civil authorities and how much is it also a quid pro quo in terms of your staff actually appreciating some of the pressures, strains and difficulties of responding within the civil emergency organisations? How much has that also helped you?
General Sir David Richards: Well, it is a very useful by-product. We are, as Mr Holloway was hinting, in a different era now where the military does not do its stuff abroad, and certainly never here, in some sort of discrete area in which no one else lives; it is a war amongst the people, as Rupert Smith said, so the more that our people can mix and become used to other factors, whether it is prejudices towards the military on the one part, which we increasingly do not come across because the relationships are better, through to understanding other people's points of view which are perfectly legitimate, this cannot be a bad thing. I was with a regional brigade commander the other day who had done two of these exercises last year and he said to me that it was just like being in Iraq and working with the civil agencies over there, so there is a spin-off which is another reason we ought to remain engaged at the level we are.
Q230 Mrs Moon: I was wondering about your comment that something that keeps you awake at night is 2012 and, in terms of the new technology and equipment that you are using in Iraq and Afghanistan, do you think that new equipment has any potential for homeland security, for resilience and indeed for use in 2012? Obviously, I do not expect you to go into details, but is there new equipment that you are using now that actually you can see being useful in assisting the security and defence issues of 2012?
General Sir David Richards: I do not think I could go into details, as you have kindly suggested, but undoubtedly there are things that, in certain of the scenarios, are being looked at rightly, and you would expect it, that that sort of equipment particularly that gives an intelligence and understanding of what is going on would be very usefully used over here.
Brigadier Everard: In relation to that question, again I have brought something else which I think speaks for itself. This is a secret document which is signed out to me for the day, but this is the database of those sorts of capabilities that exist within the military which could be used by civil authorities in the UK, and again I will pass it round because it gives you a flavour of those things that we flag up to the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism, for example, to say, "You can think about using these because we have them".
Q231 Chairman: Well, if it is secret, make sure you get it back!
Brigadier Everard: I will, sir.
Q232 Mr Holloway: What sort of support do you think you might provide to the Olympics and when do you think you will know what is going to be required of you?
General Sir David Richards: Well, I think it is a very open-ended question depending on what one's assessment of the risk is. We do not expect to do a great deal routinely because the MoD again are primarily involved, but I did ask this question in preparation for your session today and they have it pretty well buttoned up. I would like, as I said earlier, to accelerate the decision-making so that we know more precisely not necessarily what areas we might be required to help in, but the scale, how many EOD teams and all those sorts of things, but that work is ----
Brigadier Everard: In the autumn this year, we are told, we will be given a statement of requirement.
General Sir David Richards: We can live with that, and I know people are aware that we and others need to get on with it because we need to then exercise in it certainly by no later than 2010 and James has then got to factor that sort of thing into the overall programming of military activities, so at the end of this year will be okay, but not much later.
Q233 Chairman: The final question and a hypothetical one: if you are faced with a fire brigade strike, do you think it is appropriate for you to join in?
General Sir David Richards: Well, you are all politicians, so you will know this is rather political! I think my honest and best answer is that we will do as we are told and, if it is lawful, which I assume it would be, then we would have to help.
Q234 Chairman: You see, we have had two different experiences of that over the last decade or so. In one circumstance, the military were called in and, in another circumstance, the military either were not called in or said, "We have so many people in Iraq and Afghanistan that we simply can't manage it". What would be your response now?
General Sir David Richards: It would depend on the scale. If it were a nationwide fire strike and clearly lives were routinely being put at risk as a result, my own personal view is that we would have to do something to help, although one would be reluctant, but no one, nor would my troops and officers, stand by watching people being burned in their houses for fear that we get caught up in some sort of political contagion.
Q235 Chairman: Does that not make it easier for the authorities to fail to reach agreement with the fire brigade, and this is all completely hypothetical, to avoid that contingency arising in the first place?
General Sir David Richards: I can see that it might, although our ability to help will be pretty limited, so there would still be the imperative from a humanitarian perspective alone, I would hope, to not put us in that position, but I do recognise that may be a factor. Would you not think that we would have to respond because, one, we could not do as we are told and, two, we could not stand by and watch people die while Rome burned?
Q236 Chairman: I have never heard this before; I am meant to be asking the questions but my answer is, yes, I would.
General Sir David Richards: Good.
Chairman: Thank you very much indeed; that is very helpful from both of you and I am delighted that the delayed session was eventually able to take place. We are most grateful.
Witnesses: Ms Niki Tompkinson, Director, Transport Security and Contingencies Directorate (TRANSEC), Chief Constable Bernard Hogan-Howe, Lead Officer for Maritime and Air Support Policing, Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), Mr Rod Johnson, Chief Coastguard, Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), and Mr Brodie Clark, Head, Border Force, UK Border Agency (UKBA), gave evidence.
Q237 Chairman: Welcome to the Committee; I wonder if I could possibly ask you, please, to tell us exactly who you are and tell us what you do in a brief sentence. Would you like to start?
Ms Tompkinson: Thank you very much, good morning, ladies and gentlemen. I am Niki Tompkinson, I am the Director of Transport Security and Contingencies, which is a unit which sits within the Department for Transport, so I am responsible to the Secretary of State for Transport. The responsibilities within my unit, which is known as TRANSEC, are focused on protective security for all of the transport industry, so we have programmes that go across land, maritime and aviation. Our job is to protect the transport industries, primarily from acts of terrorism, so we are essentially a counter-terrorist unit as opposed to security for counter-crime or other reasons. Our job is not to deliver the security because that is done by the transport industries, but to set the standards, write the programmes for security that the industries are required to carry out and we have powers under various bits of legislation which enable us to direct the industries to carry out protective security measures. Then we have teams of inspectors that can also go and inspect the level of compliance. Within Government, as well as being within the Department for Transport, we are very much part of the cross-government counter-terrorist community, programmes of work that come under CONTEST, the counter-terrorist strategy and our work fits into that as well.
Q238 Chairman: I will stop you there. Brodie Clark.
Mr Clark: Good morning, I am Brodie Clark, I am the Head of the UK Border Force; that is within the current UK Border Agency in the Home Office. The Border Force has a responsibility primarily around illegal and illicit goods coming into the country and illegal people coming into the country. We have 9,000 staff currently deployed on that, we operate at the border and we have a very large scale intelligence capability but we also have some more immediate direct intervention capability and some very close links and liaison across other policing and criminal justice agencies and of course the Office of Security and Counter-Terrorism within the Home Office.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: I am Bernard Hogan-Howe, Chief Constable of Merseyside, but invited to appear before you today as a Chief Constable for ACPO who represents ACPO on maritime issues. Just to say briefly for those members who may not be aware there are 43 Police Services in England and Wales and a further eight in Scotland and Northern Ireland and there are some services which go right across the UK, for example the Serious and Organised Crime Agency and the British Transport Police. ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers, tries to draw together some issues that link us all; we have committees and we have people who lead on various issues. I lead on maritime. Maritime is split into four areas: one is around maritime planning, which essentially is around crime, so trying to stop criminals who are at sea or trying to get into this country, maybe linked to drugs, maybe linked to guns, but that type of event, or where crime is committed at sea - for example, on a cruise ship, somebody is assaulted - so trying to make sure we have policies and effective operations. We have a standing person, an Assistant Chief Constable called John Donlan, who is the National Co-ordinator for Ports. John's role, right around the airports, the rail ports and the sea ports, is to make sure that we have consistent policy because obviously each one of those sits within a separate jurisdiction so far as the chief constable is concerned and we have to make sure that so far as entrants and people who leave us are concerned we try to have a coherent response. We have a separate committee which is really about diving and marine - that is more technical in nature, possibly not relevant for today's hearing - and then we have a multi-agency group which is really specifically around counter-terrorism. The standing lead for that day-by-day is the National Co-ordinator for Counter-Terrorism who sits within the Metropolitan Police, presently John McDowell, and we try and co-ordinate the policy around all the work around maritime and counter-terrorism, both within the Police Service, across all the agencies who sit at this table and particularly in their links with the military, so we try to make sure we have planning in place to either stop things happening or, if they do happen, then we have an effective plan to deal with it.
Q239 Chairman: Thank you very much. Rod Johnson.
Mr Johnson: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen; I am Rod Johnson, I am Her Majesty's Chief Coastguard. The Coastguard is the emergency response arm of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency which is an executive agency of the Department for Transport. The Coastguard have two missions: one is the initiation, co-ordination and direction of civil maritime search and rescue within the United Kingdom search and rescue region, and the other mission is vessel traffic monitoring as defined in the European Vessel and Traffic Monitoring Directive which includes the tracking of hazardous ships and the passing of information to other Member States. There are 550 coastguard officers deployed at 19 operation centres around the country, supported by 3,500 volunteers at a further 360 community-based stations. Our operating area is all 10,500 miles of the UK coastline and the one million square miles of the United Kingdom search and rescue and permission control zones.
Q240 Chairman: We were told last time we had evidence from Lord West that there was no single organisation which had comprehensive responsibility for security in the maritime environment. What we have just heard - which is a fairly bewildering, if you will forgive my saying so, array of responsibilities - confirms that this is true. Do you think there should be a single organisation that has that responsibility? Who would like to begin?
Ms Tompkinson: Shall I start from the point of view of the Department? I believe that we have got very good procedures and processes in place which enable us to co-ordinate, and the strength to my mind of the way that it is currently run is that each of us does have some quite distinct and clearly defined responsibilities so that we can focus on an area of work in which we then specialise, but we have in a number of means worked out ways to co-ordinate those activities so that we have the best of the experience and expertise that is available, but also at both a local, tactical and strategic level can bring all the pieces together. The way it works on maritime, in fact, it actually mirrors the Government's counter-terrorism approach; whether it is on land, in the air or at sea we have very similar processes and procedures in place so that we all of us know exactly what we need to do and who we need to talk to. I would say that it works well the way the cake is cut at the moment; it could be cut in a different way but you would just have joins in a different place.
Mr Clark: Could I comment? The key is co-ordination and relationships and the co-ordination is very, very powerful and increasingly so. If I take the work that we do in terms of the UK watch list - that is a watch list of people whom a whole range of agencies will have concerns about - if the individuals on that watch list were to enter the UK, we do that on behalf of other agencies, including the security services, and that is a very effective piece of work across government, delivered by one agency on behalf of others. The connection and co-ordination at a senior level and a strategic and tactical level is good. It shows itself in things like the intelligence-sharing and data-sharing activity that goes on and I think also at local level there are very, very good examples where UK Border Agency Staff and Special Branch staff work hand-in-glove in terms of security issues. We have recently signed an MOU with ACPO in terms of security issues at the border. My final comment is, as Niki said, you could cut it in a different way but the risk is you disconnect border security from national security inland and there would be, I think, even greater dangers in doing that.
Q241 Chairman: Would anybody like to add anything? By the way, you do not have to, just because there are four of you, answer every question in quadruplicate. Mr Hogan-Howe.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: I would really just echo what people have said. I am sure that in some ways we could improve but I do not think at the moment there is a need for a standing person or body to actually try and co-ordinate because I think what each of us brings is a strength in our own area. We have some very good links in terms of trying to prevent crime or in terms of links with the military around counter-terrorism; in the event that something moved from a threat to something actually happening we have got some very well-tried systems that work well. We exercise well together, and that is not just the police and the military but also right across these groups we have similar training. There are things that sound, I agree, on the face of it to be confusing, we seem to be potentially disorganised, but it works well so that those who have most expertise in the area in which they are organised bring that to the party, and then when we need to work together we do.
Q242 Chairman: As a matter of interest do your IT systems talk to each other?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: They do, certainly, in terms of the sharing of information about people embarking and disembarking at ports - not every IT system will talk; our HR system probably would not talk to another HR system.
Q243 Chairman: Even within the police the IT systems do not always talk to each other.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: I plead guilty on that one. Certainly, so far as there is a need to then the IS-IS IT system is very good. The main thing is that we share, as Brodie has said, the intelligence, certainly through the Navy, through the National Ports Assessment Co-ordination Centre which happens to sit in Merseyside on behalf of the Police Service, we have an opportunity to share intelligence in a way that helps us all to do our job.
Q244 Mr Jenkins: There was a phrase that Mr Clark used; he said "doing work on behalf of others", is that correct?
Mr Clark: I think that is correct, yes.
Q245 Mr Jenkins: Who pays for it?
Mr Clark: There is a variety of arrangements in terms of how the funding comes to the department who is doing the delivery on behalf of others. If I consider the e-borders option, the Joint Border Operation Centre - which is staffed, interestingly enough, by Border Agency staff but also staffed by police, by representatives from the Serious Organised Crime Agency - a range of organisations share in the operation of that centre and they have contributed to the cost of delivering the e-border programme.
Q246 Mr Jenkins: As long as it is a shared operation it is a shared cost, but when you go outside your remit and do something on behalf of others, normally you re-allocate the costings; do you negotiate that between the different groups?
Mr Clark: It depends on the scale and the nature of the issue or operation. If it is a large-scale programme or project around, say, IT delivery then one would seek to negotiate a cost-sharing as well, the benefit and the share of the cost ought to be shared. If it is a short term operational piece of activity that invariably does not get shared; that is simply contributing to the activity and business of another part of government in the interest of a higher common purpose.
Q247 Mr Jenkins: In the interest of a higher common purpose. If you have a lot of negotiation and discussion between these agencies surely the higher common purpose should be to have unity and increase the efficiency and effectiveness. Whilst you all may have separate entities a co-ordinated body might be a bit more efficient, do you not think?
Mr Clark: In terms of our experience as we currently are that sharing operates very effectively and I know I have no concerns or issues I would want to raise with the Committee of any dysfunctional nature around that sharing. It works to the higher common purpose, we respond and we have responses from other agencies.
Q248 Mr Jenkins: No one has any disregard for the fact that you make it work; it is commendable that you make it work, but is it the best system, that is what I am asking?
Mr Clark: If you take it in the round you are almost back, if I may say, to one of the earlier questions of the Chairman.
Q249 Mr Jenkins: Oh yes, and I might come back again until we get the right answer.
Mr Clark: I would give the same answer as I gave before, that there are other risks in terms of creating one single entity which would try and capture the whole security agenda. I do not want to repeat things unnecessarily.
Q250 Chairman: In answer to the question who pays for it, presumably what follows from what you have said is that there is no regime, it is worked out on an ad hoc basis.
Mr Clark: It is worked out on a case by case basis.
Q251 John Smith: It does seem a very complex arrangement to us. If I put the question round another way, do you identify any gaps in the co-ordination between the different agencies that could be filled? That is the first question. On the subject of how well do you co-ordinate between yourselves, how well did you co-ordinate during the coastguard dispute which resulted in industrial action which greatly reduced the monitoring capability of sea-going craft around our waters for quite some considerable time. Was that discussed? Was that covered? Were there any potential security implications?
Ms Tompkinson: I wonder if I could just start by saying a little bit about the overall governance of co-ordination and then perhaps pass to Rod to talk about the specific question, because we should not leave you with the impression that we are all doing our own jobs and from time to time ring each other up and there is a casual sort of co-ordination. There is that, of course, because we know each other and work together but there is also quite a clear structure within Government. There is the CONTEST programme, the counter-terrorist programme, which is run by the Home Office so you have a clear driving point and ownership in the Home Office and going up to the Home Secretary, of the whole programme, all of the work that fits together, and then it breaks down into its individual strands until you get down to the tactical level and the programmes that we are all delivering. Everything that we are doing, therefore, is overseen both by ministerial and official level committees, any gaps can be identified or if any of us are having any difficulty in co-ordination - I cannot think of one recently - there are structures there for us to go to to bring it closely together. At the more tactical level there are committees both within departments and more broadly that will make sure that the co-ordination is in place, so it is not just done on an ad hoc casual basis but we are all accountable to a structure. On the Coastguard question I might turn to Rod to say something about that.
Mr Johnson: Thank you. Mr Smith, during the industrial disputes last year contingency plans were put into operation and all of our delivery functions were delivered upon - vessel tracking information that we normally pass to the security services was passed as normal, the act of monitoring of the Dover Strait carried on as normal, all of our functions were delivered upon through our contingency plan. I do not think there was any breakdown during the industrial dispute and during the contingency plans for that we were in daily contact with partners in other government departments to just assure them that the service would be provided and to make them aware of our plans.
Q252 John Smith: But no gaps anywhere.
Mr Johnson: We are a provider of information to the other agencies but my view is that the strength of a multi-agency co-ordinated approach is that in peacetime individual agencies can focus on their core business and then when required to ramp up for an operation the whole is greater than some of its parts - a wider variety of expertise can be brought into play than perhaps could be done by a single monolithic operation, and that is in fact from the concept of operations to the Government's maritime emergency response in the UK.
Q253 Chairman: Do you mean the coastguards can go on strike and no detriment to the service is felt?
Mr Johnson: The contingency plans that we put in place ensured that our delivery for search and rescue co-ordination and traffic monitoring was fulfilled. Had we been unable to deliver upon that through our contingency plans then as a Category One responder under the Civil Contingencies Act we would have advised other government departments that that was not going to be the case, but in the case of last year's industrial disputes we did continue to deliver upon our functions.
Q254 Chairman: Is that yes?
Mr Johnson: That is a yes.
Mr Clark: Can I respond to the no gaps question because there is a piece of work which is now underway looking to just address that issue and see across government whether and what the gaps are. That is a piece of work that was commissioned arising from the Cabinet Office review on the Security in a Global Hub paper. That work is well in train and that is looking to see whether there are areas that the collaboration might look to address or not, and that is coming to the stage of a consultation process across government and across other interested and involved departments.
Q255 Chairman: What is the timescale of that?
Mr Clark: The first draft of that went out for consultation last Friday so we have two or three months to run before we feel comfortable that we have got the final model.
Q256 Chairman: Could we have a copy of that?
Mr Clark: Yes, of course.
Q257 Mr Jenkin: We have no evidence to suggest that the co-ordination between your various activities is not commendable, and in fact it is welcome to hear that any potential gaps have been addressed. I remain anxious about what the command chain is like in a real crisis. Take the MV Nisha accident, for example, who was in charge?
Ms Tompkinson: Shall I start off by describing the processes? I was not there at the time of the MV Nisha but when an incident happens, or during a time of extreme threat, then there is both a strategic and a tactical response. At the strategic level that means convening COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A) and if it is an incident or an extreme threat at home then the Home Office and the Home Secretary would be in the lead and if it is overseas the Foreign Office and the Foreign Secretary would be in the lead, and all of the key departments would be in the COBRA room at either ministerial or official level addressing, at a strategic level, what the incident was and what the appropriate Government response would be. At a tactical level the relevant police force would take command and would address the incident and call upon such resources as the police need, whether it be in a maritime context from the Coastguard or from the Navy or from anybody else, and the relationship between the two bodies is such that if there is an issue around resources or needing more help then the police in command can come to COBRA and request assistance but also request strategic guidance to the handling of the incident. That is broadly the way it works. I do not know whether you want to add to that.
Q258 Mr Jenkin: But there is Gold command.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: The only thing I would add to what Niki has said is that during this last year we have changed slightly the command structure. What is said is that in the event that the vessel is not under control then the Police Service has limited opportunities to intervene in that sort of scenario and therefore what is said is that if the local force where the vessel is does not have the opportunity to intervene it is hardly a good idea to give it responsibility. The change that has therefore happened this year is that the National Counter-terrorism investigator, the Deputy Assistant Commissioner in the Met, John McDowell, will take the lead not only in investigation of counter-terrorism incidents but in managing that incident if it is an incident that is on-going, so that person would be the Gold if the vessel is not under control. As Niki has said it works to a Gold, Silver and Bronze mechanism. We have limited facilities to operate at sea or even on the water so generally that means that there will be a request for assistance through the MAC P process and that is managed through COBRA, but COBRA has to be convened and obviously those requests will go in. Generally the line command is pretty good; we have enhanced it this year and what does happen is that if a vessel which has not been under control moves under control or moves alongside the local Chief Constable would then take control of the immediate incident because they have all the resource in place, but the National Counter-Terrorist Investigator leads the inv into any crime that may have been committed on that vessel. We think we have a simple process which has stood us in good stead and we exercise regularly. There are three grades of exercise for that type of counter-terrorism response per year and certainly once a year we exercise in the marine environment. It is either desktop, it can be a live situation or it is live with COBRA. That is a regularly exercised thing and because of the counter-terrorism situation generically across the country over the last few years, emergency liaison groups which are actually that type of command operation working in real time, have been exercised quite a lot over the last three to five years.
Q259 Mr Jenkin: That Gold commander would make the tactical assessment of the nature of the threat and might have to decide whether to call in military assistance; he would be making that decision.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: That person has to make that decision, yes. As I say, to a large extent in a maritime environment we have limited capacity so quite often we are immediately seeking some military response.
Q260 Mr Holloway: Given that this could happen in any one of the very large number of police forces is there not a danger of a lack of experience in dealing with these things at a tactical level and, given that, if it is offshore one is going to get the Royal Navy or the Royal Marines to deal with it, is there not an argument for them to have responsibility from the outset?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: Of what?
Q261 Mr Holloway: From the outset of any incident. They should have responsibility now.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: In terms of is there a chance that there will be limited experience then that is likely. There are 33 forces that are coastal within England, Scotland and Wales so not al forces have that experience. They do exercise, but they have not all exercised regularly and they certainly have not all experienced a counter-terrorism incident, so there is some danger of lack of expertise in that sense. What you probably have to realise is that we have a pretty good system of portal control around the country anyway in terms of Police Services. We have divided the coast into nine areas, three in Scotland and six in England and Wales; there is a regional ACC (Assistant Chief Constable) in each of those regions, they pull together the portal commanders every one to three months - they have a system of meeting - and they then work together with all the agencies around security plans around the ports. There is, therefore, a level of expertise and on top of that, apart from the expertise that our colleagues who generally work in maritime have, you have also got the ports themselves and some of them have their own port police. There is a level of experience, therefore, and through the ACPO committees we keep some good, broad policies and we exercise. Just as an example of where we can show that we are rigorous in making sure that we are match fit, in February all the port commanders will be going around and peer-assessing their colleagues around the coast, so they will all move up one and test whether what they say is happening is happening. It has never been the highest priority for any land-based force - you will all know that there are many priorities for the Police Services - so I am not going to sit here and say that it is the highest priority we have ever had, but I think you can be reassured that there is a level of expertise. The final element I would lay on that is that in SO15, which is the counter-terrorism unit within the Metropolitan Police, there are certain officers who are trained particularly around a maritime environment. The idea there is that if ever there is a situation on a ship and the police have to go on after the situation has been restored to normality, they are trained to try and help in both restoring normality, gathering evidence and making sure that suspects and victims are handled in a professional way.
Q262 Mr Holloway: Do you think it has gone too far the way that the police with their tactical teams are attempting to do jobs that previously had been done by military people who spend their entire careers rehearsing for these sorts of things? Are the police trying to do too much in explosive entry, boarding ships and so on? Do you think a line has been crossed, have the police gone too far?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: I do not think so really. There are two things; there is the general situation where we use that type of tactic, which is really against criminals, and then if you move into the maritime environment we do not have an awful lot of capacity to do the types of things you have just described so we do really rely on the military. There are some areas of the country where we can, with consent, board ships and test whether or not the people are on them, but there are other agencies who get involved in that more than we do. Generally I do not think we have crossed that line and the reality of life is that if some of the other specialist skills are not available someone has to take action, so I think where you have seen that type of explosive entry it is generally to do with criminals. As soon as you get into the counter-terrorism environment we are generally falling back on the military and then compound that by a huge factor when you move into the maritime environment.
Q263 Chairman: There is a National Maritime Security Committee; what does it do?
Ms Tompkinson: That is a committee that I chair within the Department. It is one of our key fora for bringing Government and industry together so its main focus is on the protective security programme that the industry delivers, so we will talk to the industry about the measures that they have to deliver, about their preparedness for going to a higher level, but also at that committee we bring in other colleagues from other departments - the police are represented there, John Donlan who is from the National Ports Police is there and the Ministry of Defence is represented there and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency is there. We have around the table, therefore, all of the stakeholders in maritime security, albeit in this particular forum most of the focus is on protective security and preparedness.
Q264 Chairman: There has just been a new Ports Security Directive.
Ms Tompkinson: Yes.
Q265 Chairman: What impact is that going to have?
Ms Tompkinson: We are working on that with the industry. It has come out of a European directive so it is as a consequence of the gradual stepping up of protective security that has been worked on and implemented really since 9/11 and then in about 2004 the implementation of the International Code. It was then transposed into European law and the Ports Security Directive is a final piece of that which will bring together certain elements within the port. Again, it is about co-ordination and making sure that accountability and ownership of security is very clear. We worked first of all with the European Commission on the Ports Security Directive at the policy development stage and are now in the process of implementation here in the UK.
Q266 Mr Jenkin: What does it implement that we would not otherwise implement?
Ms Tompkinson: It is bringing together different elements within a port because the whole issue of the definition of a port is actually different from one country to another, so in terms of port security and the individual programmes if you take one of the larger ports there will be lots of elements of facilities within that port, some of which need security and some of which do not. The European Directive requires us to take the port as a whole and we were keen to make sure that that did not result in protective security where none was needed. But nevertheless within an area - some ports are very easily defined and others might be strung along a whole area - we take an area that we define a port and ensure that within that area there are people who are accountable for delivery of security as a whole as well as the individual pieces.
Q267 Mr Jenkin: Were we not doing that already?
Ms Tompkinson: They were doing that and we would say that implementing the Ports Security Directive was not a huge leap; a lot of it was in place already on the ground and the Ports Security Directive has formalised it if you like.
Q268 Chairman: There are new Police Portal regions; how is that going to help?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: The main thing is, certainly as I took over this particular portfolio, it seemed to me that there was a need, as Mr Jenkin, said to, firstly, start to corral expertise and develop it; secondly, to have recognised leads within certain areas and also to recognise, as I say, that we tend to look inwards to the land and we do not always look outwards to obviously the sea and how that particular community organises itself. If you look at the way that, for example, ships approach this country, you obviously have western approaches, you have the ships that come in through the south, you have got the North Sea entrances, and we needed to some extent to try and mimic the way that the sea ports were operating. Secondly, there was some organisation already between the ports themselves because obviously they have sometimes conflicting transport arrangements and they have things that they need to talk about, so the idea was to try to get the ACCs to talk to the Commanders in each of the ports from the police perspective and make sure that we got consistency. By putting a senior officer in there it helps to make sure that you do get the consistency. We get regular exercising and in the event that we have questions on policy we are well-informed when we ask for those leads. It seems to help at that level.
Q269 John Smith: Are there any different arrangements for the devolved parts of the country? I noticed when you were talking about your areas you did not mention Northern Ireland., for example. There is another layer of government, there is another layer of agency and I wonder whether that creates problems?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: It does not particularly for us. Just one thing that I ought to remark is that the Association of Chief Police Officers covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland and there is a separate arrangement for Scotland, but we work together, so on most of our committees we have Scottish representation, for example, and on my committee there is a Scottish representative who represents the Scottish position. There are some jurisdictional issues but everyone is aware that there is a separate legal jurisdiction in Scotland and from time to time those issues have to be resolved. If you think back to the bombing of Glasgow Airport and the bomb attack that happened just prior to that in London, there were jurisdictional issues that had to be resolved because some of the offenders who had committed offences, it is alleged, in London were arrested in Scotland, so from time to time there are things that we all have to work on. One reality is that we share a military response so as far as the areas that I have a responsibility for are concerned we work together to make sure that we have a joint response to any counter-terrorist threat and security in that respect is not a devolved power, that is one that I believe is a reserved power retained by the United Kingdom Government. That does not cause us any particular problems and we work very well with our Scottish colleagues to make sure that we have a common response. The way we do that most often is that a Scottish representative sits on my committee. It is also true in terms of Northern Ireland; possibly I forgot to mention Northern Ireland but you will remember that I said that there were three areas that we divided Scotland into and that matches across the Irish Sea over to the Northern Ireland side, and they are included.
Q270 John Smith: What about other departments?
Ms Tompkinson: As Bernard said security is not a devolved issue so our directions apply equally across the UK and we will deal with industry across the UK.
Mr Clark: I can confirm that that is exactly the same with the UK Border Agency; it is not devolved, we work with ACPOS, the Scottish ACPO, we work with officials in Scotland in terms of our engagement and activities in Scotland and in Ireland.
Q271 Mr Holloway: It strikes me that you have an awful lot of chiefs and a gigantic amount of process and obviously it sounds absolutely marvellous. Surely when you have a serious incident you need unity of command.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: I have to say that of all of the things we were asked at the beginning about gaps, what you could do better, the Gold, Silver, Bronze system and our links with the military work very well. It really is not something that worries me. The unity of command in a marine environment is, in fact, the best that we have throughout the country in terms of counter-terrorism because we now have the certainty that the National Co-ordinator for Counter-terrorism is the person who is in charge of the police response and is also the link with the military, so I honestly think that that is a very well-established process. Each of the 43 forces, plus the eight plus the one, exercises regularly in terms of counter-terrorism.
Q272 Mr Holloway: How did it go with the MV Nisha then?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: Equally I was not around at the time.
Q273 Mr Holloway: Neither was Ms Tompkinson but you must have learnt something from it.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: I understand there were concerns about that but it did get resolved. Frankly, at the time, it was one of the first if not the first type of incidents in that environment that they had all had to cope with. Obviously, as you may know, it came from a very quick piece of intelligence where they had to react quickly, so I think people learnt an awful lot of lessons from that and in fact the committee that I now have, that was one of the direct results and the multi-agency group as I explained earlier around counter-terrorism was a direct result of that event because there was a feeling at the time that more co-ordination and planning could have taken place, and exercising, to make sure that we were all co-ordinated better. I am not going to sit here and say it is perfect but I honestly think it is far better than that particular example which is now a reasonable number of years ago.
Mr Clark: It is back to this co-ordination issue in terms of the operational activity. In the UK Border Force we have five cutters, five ships that we use; a lot of the time of those ships is used in terms of the business of the UK Border Agency but we are there also to respond to other agencies and other issues as our help is sought. We work very closely with the Royal Navy, we are part of the exercises that the Royal Navy deliver, we are part of the scenario planning that the Royal Navy takes forward, we are part of some of the more detailed pieces of training that go on in the Royal Navy and we have been deployed successfully over the last six months on a number of very major operations involving the Royal Navy and the police and ourselves. In terms of the command structure, that has worked effectively.
Q274 Mr Holloway: You seem happy in terms of the command arrangements but do you think you need more capacity?
Ms Tompkinson: On my side, which is very focused on what the industry is delivering, we have a capacity for being out at the ports, the airports and elsewhere and checking on what the industry is doing; you could always have more, you could always increase that amount of oversight, but in practice we do a pretty good job with what we have got and the industry responds very responsibly to the requirements that are placed upon them.
Q275 Mr Holloway: Forgive me, it was not a question about how well you deal with what you have got, it was a question of whether or not you need more capacity.
Ms Tompkinson: I think the capacity is adequate, given the industry delivery of security - and that is where the capacity exists because they are delivering the protective security - and if the industry is doing its job well then the need for a lot of oversight goes down, so although we have a relatively limited capacity I would say that it is adequate.
Q276 Chairman: I suspect we remain as a Committee with the impression that you spend a great deal of your time in committee meetings co-ordinating things. Would that be an unfair impression for us to be left with?
Mr Clark: Absolutely and in terms of operational business that goes on and that operates and that gets direction from those areas which are leading on particular issues at particular times. There needs to be an infrastructure to support that and, certainly, that is across Government but I do not think we should be accused of spending more of our time on the kind of bureaucratic committee process than delivering real business; it is the latter.
Ms Tompkinson: I would agree with that.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: I would agree. I can hear why you may come to that conclusion because we have had to explain to you the structure by which we try and govern, but it is not a day-by-day basis and I do not think there is that need. As Captain Johnson said it seems to me that we have specialist roles for which we are responsible and we have good organisations that do that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but we meet to deal with the exceptional and then - God forbid it happens - we work together to make sure that we deal with the exceptional. That is the strength of the system and one of the ways of making sure that that system works is either you have meetings to co-ordinate or we train together and we exercise together and make sure that the systems are in place, whether it be communications or COBRA meetings so that we are all ready for that type of eventuality. If the broad question is about resourcing, should there be more resource, of course we all would say we would like more resources but until there is an explicit increase in the threat in this particular environment I do not think the case is yet made out, certainly for our service, that we should make any exceptional bid for more resources in this area at the moment.
Q277 Chairman: Rod Johnson, do you want to add anything to that?
Mr Johnson: My colleagues have expressed it very eloquently and I share their view; it would be unjustified to suggest that we spend all of our time in meetings, we are spending most of our time actually delivering.
Q278 Mr Holloway: I am sorry to bang on, Chief Constable, but the threat is potentially absolutely enormous and catastrophic. Is it the time to argue that you need greater capacity before or after such an event?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: Certainly it has got to be before. I suppose one of the areas where we are constrained in a public hearing is talking about that level of threat in these particular environments but so far as we can tell, as you say, one level of threat is public and clearly there is a major issue for this country in terms of counter-terrorism. One of the things we have to look at is the threat extant in terms of the maritime environment and all I can tell you is how we try and plan on the basis of the threat assessments as we receive them. I am sure information about the threat level can be shared privately.
Q279 Mr Holloway: Are you in step with the sort of things the US is doing against a catastrophic ship-borne threat?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: Certainly those things are all being assessed and dealt with so far as we can.
Q280 Mr Holloway: That is not really answering my question; are you in step with what the US are doing?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: You might need to tell me exactly what the US are doing that is different.
Q281 Mr Holloway: I do not know but I am sure they are doing a lot more than we are and I expect you to know.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: I am not sure that I know exactly what the US are doing any more than perhaps you do, but if someone points out exactly where we may have gaps then I am quite prepared to address that but I am not sure that we think that there are those gaps at the moment. At the end of the day if people want that sort of improved security in these areas there will be a significant cost and that is a Government issue which they would have to address.
Ms Tompkinson: On the question of the relationship with the US we have a very close relationship with our counterparts in the Department of Homeland Security, in the TSA who focus on aviation and to some extent land transport, and also in the Coastguard who focus on maritime security. We have regular exchanges with US opposite numbers.
Q282 Chairman: What does the TSA stand for?
Ms Tompkinson: Transport Security Administration. They are our equivalents in the US Government and over the last few years in particular we have had very close and regular exchanges with them about their developments, whether it be technical or policy developments, and across Government. Again, the Home Office co-ordinates exchanges at a high level between the whole of the counter-terrorist community and the homeland security community and then underneath that there are a lot of exchanges about what the US are doing, what we are doing and to see where we can learn from each other. That has been very profitable.
Q283 Chairman: If there were a terrorist incident just outside territorial waters, or perhaps moving in and out of territorial waters, are there different procedures and are these different procedures generally understood?
Ms Tompkinson: At the strategic level, at COBRA, we would have all the players there anyway; if it was moving in and out of territorial waters then I would expect the Home Office in practice to take the lead given that you are going to be focused on the territorial aspect of it. Tactically again I would look to the police to answer that.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: There is a series of questions any government would have to ask as to whether it intervened outside territorial waters such as which port is the ship coming from, which one is it going to, which affects the jurisdictional issues. Then, who are the passengers? Who owns the ship? Who operates the ship? What nationality is the crew? The answer to all that gives you the legal answer and of course then there is a political answer as to whether or not the Government wants to intervene and it may depend, I suppose, how far outside territorial waters it was and where the ship was going. If it is parked there I am sure if we were the ones with the nearest opportunity to actually intervene and people wanted us to intervene I am sure there would be huge pressure for the UK to take action. If, however, the ship is sailing past and going to France or another country, presumably it may be that we cannot react quickly enough, so I think an awful lot of questions have to be asked before a government would make a decision about that particular outcome because obviously the deployment of the military is a big decision for any government to make and it needs to be sure it is on solid legal ground. If it is going in and out of the 12-mile limit it seems to me it complicates it a little but if it is at any time within the territorial waters it probably becomes a little easier. Those are the sorts of questions any COBRA would be asking before they committed. I have no doubt that while those legal questions were being resolved we would all be preparing to intervene in the best way that we thought we could.
Q284 Chairman: All of this relies extremely heavily, it seems to me, on a COBRA meeting.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: Yes. Those COBRA meetings are very well practised, they have actually operated in real time quite often in recent years, unfortunately, and they can be brought up to speed very, very quickly once the threat is identified and that is something that probably, in the circumstances you describe, will primarily be the responsibility of the Government to decide how to respond. The police would take primacy if it was decided that it was a crime in action which the UK was going to take responsibility for and I suspect the military would be called on very quickly in the event that we decided to take both jurisdiction and responsibility.
Q285 Linda Gilroy: How do you interact with other countries which overlap in the waters outside the 12-mile limit? Presumably there is some mechanism for doing that, and for identifying threats.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: There are two mechanisms really, I suppose. The Department for Transport is one clear mechanism because they have a security responsibility around transport generally and obviously we have security services who share intelligence between security services.
Q286 Linda Gilroy: How does the MoD fit into that? If in the middle of all of this you suddenly have what is basically a threat from a vessel that has fallen through the nets of all the surveillance that you have, which becomes something that would demand a military response, how does that happen?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: The practical bit is that if COBRA is sitting, which is led either by the Prime Minister or by the minister in the relevant department, which in these circumstances probably would be the Home Office, so it could be the Home Secretary or the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Defence are sat around the table and the military assets cannot be deployed - there is a well-established convention for this - without ministerial approval. The Police Service cannot deploy them so the Government have to be satisfied they have a legal jurisdiction, there is intelligence or there is a case for deployment. That is the way it is generally operated.
Ms Tompkinson: In terms of dealing with other countries the Foreign Office will of course take the lead because they will also be there, so if there was an issue around ensuring that we had the right links with another country then the Foreign Office would arrange that.
Q287 Mr Jenkin: I represent a coastal constituency in North Essex with nuclear power stations nearby, we have got Felixstowe and Harwich fairly nearby, we are all sitting at our desks not in meetings, how do we identify maritime threats?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: There are a number of ways. In Essex you are very well-positioned in terms of Essex Police because they have eight craft which help to provide some surveillance around the coast, possibly because of the nature of the risk that you mention. Of course, what we have not talked about yet is the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Police who clearly have got the responsibility around the national infrastructure so far as the nuclear facilities are concerned, but first of all there is intelligence gathering which we have all referred to. One, that can be through the intelligence services - what is out there, who is intending to attack us - number two is that you have the intelligence that we share between each of the agencies, so the Coastguard will hold certain intelligence, the Border Agency, the Department for Transport and our own officers, so that is shared. If you recall, we said that that is fed back through something called the National Police Assessment Centre which checks not only the ship movements where they are seen to be unusual, but also if there is some intelligence about people who are arriving or leaving the country. That is the way that we generally do it and, obviously, if something presents itself in front of us then we have to deal with it.
Q288 Mr Jenkin: Who is actually physically tracking potential threats? We have a chart in our brief which shows the AIS display; who has ownership of that?
Ms Tompkinson: There are systems in place for tracking ships for certain reasons and the coastguard can perhaps talk a bit more about that. From the security point of view as Bernard has said we are informed by threat information that we get from the agencies which enables us to put the right level of security in place in the first place, and then there are other things in place like tracking systems which may well be there for safety and traffic management reasons but which can then be brought into play should they be needed in response to something happening.
Q289 Mr Jenkin: Who is accountable for identifying threats? All this information is churning around, who is actually accountable?
Ms Tompkinson: In terms of going out and getting the information or responding to information coming in?
Q290 Mr Jenkin: Who is responsible for making sure that ships in our coastal waters are not a threat and positively identifying ships as non-threatening?
Mr Clark: We all have a responsibility for that in terms of the groups represented here and we increasingly are improving our processes for sharing that intelligence and that information that we have got. We all have a responsibility for recognising threats and vulnerabilities to the UK as far away from the UK actually as we can get them, then pooling that, and that is back to the co-ordination of intelligence and data leading to some kind of intervention by the right lead government department.
Q291 John Smith: Can you understand why I am not entirely happy with your answers?
Mr Johnson: Now might be a good time for me to pipe up. If it is a question of monitoring commercial shipping traffic - that is everything over 500 tonnes would be fitted with a transponder - that might present a threat to safety or to the environment, then that responsibility is the Coastguard's, and if a ship represents a threat to safety or the environment we will respond to it. Our information is shared with the Navy at Northwood who build up a recognised maritime picture. We provide them with information, we can provide them with additional information on request about cargo, ownership, last port, movements and when that information is fused with other intelligence a threat may be identified. If it is a security threat that is not a Coastguard matter but if it is a safety or an environmental threat then it is.
Q292 Mr Jenkin: Different people are responsible for different types of threat.
Ms Tompkinson: I think that is true. If a ship itself is in distress then it can send a signal and we can respond to that but what we are trying not to say because it would be misleading is that somebody is watching every vessel out at sea all the time to assess it as a potential security threat, any more than any of us are watching every vehicle on the road all the time to assess it as a potential car bomb or lorry bomb.
Q293 Mr Jenkin: You talked about large ships but in fact the smaller ships do not have AIS or any form of tracking at all.
Ms Tompkinson: At present they do not.
Q294 John Smith: I also have a coastal constituency and, as I am sure you are aware, in the last decade or two there has been an absolute explosion in the number of unregistered pleasure craft going to sea and relatively small boats can carry some pretty horrendous weapons and threats to this country. You are telling me, I understand from what you said, nothing under 300 tonnes is obliged to identify itself; most people using these boats do not have to be qualified or even registered; it is a constant worry to me as to how on earth we can protect ourselves from a maritime threat coming from small, unregistered, unregulated, unidentified craft. I know we depend on intelligence and I know our intelligence is good but is it not time that we looked at the relatively simple technologies that could be used to identify every craft that puts to sea, where it puts to sea and where it is going?
Mr Clark: Part of the review that I mentioned earlier on in terms of looking at the gaps is looking at exactly the issue of small leisure craft and shipping coming into marinas, small ports, coves ---
Q295 John Smith: There are millions of them.
Mr Clark: Right across the country, and we have to understand that you cannot staff up every small cove in the country to wait for something coming in. It does depend on intelligence and I think you will find a very heavy focus in the review that is under way on looking at local engagement of those who run marinas, those who operate in those areas and a much different scale and type of engagement with those groups to help inform and advise and keep those interested agencies alive to change in threat and risk around those areas. That has to be an area to work much more strongly with; it feels like a big step change that we need to take forward and that is part of the review that is underway at the moment.
Q296 John Smith: What about the technology side? If Tesco can track a can of beans around the world, this is relatively simple, inexpensive technology which would require all craft just to have something on there that could be picked up on - not transponders, but there is technology that is cheap and readily available.
Mr Johnson: First of all with regard to unregulated, if a ship even below 300 tonnes is in commercial use it is regulated, and if it is more than 24 metres in length even in private use you do need qualifications to drive it, so the population you may be looking at, sir, is the under 24 metre pleasure craft which drop out of the bottom of everything.
Q297 John Smith: Of which there are large numbers.
Mr Johnson: There are a large number of them. With regard to tracking them the political will to increasingly regulate that sector, even for matters such as drink-driving offences, is not there at the moment so we would be requiring the leisure industry to purchase equipment and stick it on board. If we could monitor them, either visually or by some electronic device, we would also have to assume that somebody who was using them for a nefarious purpose would be prepared to keep the transponder active so that we could track it and I would suspect that the only technology that would give you the level of assurance you require would be some form of visual lookout and we do not have the capability to actually watch small craft movements around the coast of the UK. Anything else could be defeated quite simply.
Q298 Chairman: It is a constant worry to John Smith; is that not a constant worry to you?
Mr Johnson: My responsibilities are for the protection of life and the environment and I work on the assumption that anybody who needs our help will call for it. With regard to the provision of that information to the security services I have to say that I cannot provide it.
Q299 John Smith: I have port-side chemical plants, I have power stations, I have potential targets built in areas and it just seems to be, on the subject of security gaps, potentially a matter of constant concern.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: I share your concerns from a slightly different angle in terms of organised crime, for example, because the vessels we are talking about in terms of weapons or carrying weapons could equally be carrying contraband or drugs, so there is a concern there. One of the policies that we have taken forward with ACPO is that we have something called "Crack 'em"(?) - "Crack 'em" is a process that assumes that people who work and live in marinas and work in a marine environment notice the unusual. I accept that this is not the technological solution that you are talking about but actually people notice the unusual and will report it if only we ask. They will notice the unusual place that something berths, where it does not come in at night when it should do and that type of thing. That is something that goes right around the coast and it is something like a neighbourhood watch, I suppose, for marinas and ports. I know that the Border Agency also are developing in that particular field and it seems to me that that is important. The other thing of course is that although there may not be regulators within some of the marinas, everybody who runs a marina wants to make money, they still want to maximise their revenue, so they certainly know what is coming in, when it leaves, who it is, whether they are going to get paid, and there is a huge surveillance there, which I accept is not technological, but I think there is something there to hopefully offer some reassurance, particularly around crime but also around counter-terrorism. There is something there that offers some level of reassurance and the other thing is in terms of the CONTEST strategy in terms of counter-terrorism: those things that are positioned by the coast, and you went through a list of some, there are physical measures that can be taken to try and provide some measure of deterrence or prevention if anybody should think about that type of incident that you and we are all concerned about. There are, therefore, some things in place to try and prevent that type of thing which probably did not always get discussed as much as perhaps it could, although of course things are being thought about. Whether it is perfect is always a debate.
Ms Tompkinson: I was just going to make the point that Bernard has just made, that power stations or energy plants that are part of the critical national infrastructure do get protective security advice, not from us directly but from the Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure, who will advise them on appropriate security for that installation, and if it is within a port area then we will liaise with them so that our programmes are joined up. They do get that advice.
Q300 John Smith: Am I right in concluding that we have the least regulated leisure maritime craft in Europe and North America - our Coastguard friend.
Mr Johnson: I do not know if it is the least regulated but I would say it is quite benign as far as the legislature is concerned, but I do not know where it ranks with other States.
Q301 Mr Holloway: I appreciate what Mr Clark says about being in the real world, but equally I have the Port of London Authority in my constituency and they have an incredibly good picture of exactly what is in the rather large area that they seem to patrol. It sounds like an enormous gap to me; when we are in an environment where there are multiple threats, the sort of thing that happened in Bombay recently, can someone tell me where does Jacqueline Smith or Chris Grayling or whoever is the Home Secretary go when there is a dynamic multiple incident taking place? Where do they go to be told what is where and what is coming from which direction and what ship may have met another ship or whatever it is? Where do they go?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: There are two primary sources and the Coastguard are one of them; they feed their material through to the military and they have a picture, so far as it is possible to determine it, of those vessels that are around the coast. It is slightly different, is it not, to the air traffic control that we see because of the speed at which aircraft travel, they have to be monitored and managed in a different way to the speed of vessels travelling, but that broadly is the best picture we have, which is available either through the Coastguard or through the military.
Q302 Mr Holloway: But is that good enough?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: Certainly it may not pick up the under 24 metres but there are some environments where that can be picked up. The question is, is it totally comprehensive? Okay, there may be more that can be done but there are some very significant areas that have alternative methods of surveillance that are fed in through the military. I am not sure it fully answers your question to give you total reassurance, but there is a level there that probably could be offered privately.
Mr Holloway: But it is quite a big gap.
Q303 Chairman: The distinction between those vessels that are under 50 metres and those that are under 24 is only that those between 24 and 50 have to have qualified people in charge, but neither of them fall under the AIS regime - if they are under 50 metres they do not fall under the AIS regime, do they?
Mr Johnson: No, they do not.
Q304 Linda Gilroy: I still do not have a clear picture, Chairman, of who owns what. If John's worst nightmare happens who owns the immediate circumstances so that the response is agile? Jacqui Smith is not going to be the first to know, nor is John Hutton; how do you ensure that it does not fall through the net of all your responsibilities if things are escalated in a speedy and agile sort of way?
Ms Tompkinson: As soon as something is known at the grassroots level - if for example a ship puts in an alert, the Coastguard will be informed and my staff will be informed. One of the first things they do at a very junior level is to get that information out to all the players and then at a strategic level where Jacqui Smith would come immediately is COBRA, which would convene extremely quickly and she would then get the best possible picture that we all have of what is happening, where it is happening and who has got assets to deal with it. By convening COBRA that is immediately where you have all of the expertise, leading out to the home department and agencies to bring it together.
Q305 Linda Gilroy: I am just envisaging that from that very junior level, which is the first to pick up what is an imminent threat, how does it get through to the level of doing something quickly and effectively about it?
Ms Tompkinson: Because it will feed quickly to the Gold commander.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: I can see why there is a concern but honestly it does not worry me; that phone call happens very quickly and it gets through very quickly to the highest levels. There is not a bureaucracy to go through; if you get a ship alert that comes through TRANSEC it will fire its way through all the systems very quickly.
Q306 Linda Gilroy: Does that happen? When did you last have such a signal?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: We have had two at least in the last year.
Ms Tompkinson: The ship alerts do happen on a regular basis and so far there has been an innocent explanation for that in the same way that we occasionally get hijack alerts from aircraft. So the system is tried and tested.
Q307 Linda Gilroy: You are confident that junior personnel would be taken seriously.
Ms Tompkinson: Absolutely.
Q308 Linda Gilroy: And it would not be "Are you sure? Go away and check."
Ms Tompkinson: No, absolutely. Again, these things get exercised so as Bernard said it should change very quickly.
Q309 Mr Jenkin: Mr Clark, the National Security Strategy recommended that UKBA take delivery of some fast patrol boats; have you got them?
Mr Clark: We have got the five cutters which are the fast patrol boats that are reflected there and we got those in the merger between ourselves and HMRC.
Q310 Mr Jenkin: Is that new capacity for you?
Mr Clark: That is new capacity. It is capacity that was there within the Customs Group but it is now part of the UKBA set of interventions that we have got in place.
Q311 Mr Jenkin: Do you think that is exactly what the NSS was recommending?
Mr Clark: I think so.
Q312 Mr Jenkin: Can you describe what they are?
Mr Clark: They are 42 feet long, they travel at 20 knots, they take a staff of 12 people, they are deployed around the country, normally on a tactical/threat assessment basis but they can be deployed to support other agencies in following their critical operational activities. Each of them has within it a rigid inflatable boat which can take five people; they can travel at 35 knots - I can carry on with the description if you want.
Q313 Mr Jenkin: Is five enough? We have a large coastline.
Mr Clark: Yes, we have a large coastline but my earlier point was that you have to make sensible and reasonable judgments and decisions on the basis of the risk and the threat around the UK. We will deploy those five effectively and they will add to the value of security for the UK border.
Q314 Mr Jenkin: Has Northern Ireland got one, has Scotland got one?
Mr Clark: They are not allocated in that way. They are allocated around the UK in terms of what the assessment at any time is in terms of threat or risk, so they are not linked to a particular part of the coast. Invariably the greater part of the deployment is around the southern parts of the coast and the eastern parts of the coast but that does not exclude other areas where we will go and test risk from time to time.
Q315 Mr Jenkin: Generally would further surveillance capacity and interdiction capacity be helpful - and this is a question for all the witnesses really - or do you feel you are adequately covered?
Mr Clark: Can I make a couple of comments? This is a risk assessment business, it is not one model fits every part of the country, so in a sense your conversations, lots of people talking together, are bringing together threats and risks around the UK in order to know where best to deploy those resources that between us we have actually got, separately and in support of each other. In a sense of course all of us could use more resource, but actually there is a reasonableness around what we have and that is deployed on the basis of risk and threat.
Q316 Mr Jenkin: You have got enough and nobody is going to highlight any shortages?
Mr Clark: Not highlighting concerning threats and risks to the UK but always if there are more resources you could further develop technologies and of course we would all welcome that, but what we have we are delivering individually as agencies and also together.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: One thing I would support Brodie in is that if you remember I said there were 43 forces of which 12 have a marine capacity, boats of various sizes and various types, which means around 115 vessels of which a third, broadly, are with the Ministry of Defence. If you take the Ministry of Defence as an example, they will be grouped around their particular assets to make sure that they protect and assist in surveillance around their assets, but if you follow Brodie's line in the event that you need to move some of those resources around the coastline, then that is what we would need to do. Forces have invested in that type of asset, as has the Government. The boats are the things that are quite expensive to buy and it is putting the staff in them that makes them expensive to run. Of course, you could make an argument that every coastal force ought to have some capacity but not all parts of the coast are navigable by the types of boats that we would have, so there is a reasonableness test. We have got a capacity, however, for the Police Service to deploy in terms of surveillance, which takes me back to one of my first points: if you want to confront something like an oil tanker it would not be a wise option. There are some things they can do but they cannot do everything. Do we need to invest hugely in that at the moment, I would think not.
Mr Clark: Where we see higher risk we look to share and invest and we have got some shared investment with Kent Police in terms of a launch that they have; we operate that in effect together for our joint interests.
Q317 Mr Holloway: Who has patrol boats for example in our ports? Is it the police and Coastguard?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: It is quite a mixture if you go around the coast and you could have a map of where all these boats are positioned. Then of course you have got the Port Police in some places who have their own craft as well so there is certainly a significant surveillance capacity.
Q318 Chairman: You have just told us that there are 115 vessels available, of which about a third are owned by the Ministry of Defence. When Minister Ainsworth was in front of us Mr Jenkin asked: "How many vessels are available to Her Majesty's Government, Royal Navy, Coastguard and other government agencies, for coastal protection?" The answer was: "We have two frigates effectively, one fleet-ready escort available at short notice, and we then have another frigate that can supplement that ... Then we have got three river-class offshore patrol vessels and there is always one minesweeper." That does not sound to me like a third of 115.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: Chairman, I saw that transcript and I think the gentleman who was answering may have been answering a different question. I think what they were being asked was "What is your military capacity to respond to something at sea if there is a need for military intervention?" The Ministry of Defence Police retain some small craft for surveillance and when I answered Mr Jenkin those are the numbers I was talking about. Generally we would operate within rivers, to some extent at sea and, to be honest, I do not know exactly how we operate all the time. The numbers I am talking about include the smaller craft, not what might be seen as the sea-going fleet, so that may be a reason for the discrepancy but obviously I do not know exactly why that gentleman answered in the way he did. That was how I read it.
Q319 Chairman: How many Ministry of Defence vessels, of whatever size, would you say were available to do some of this surveillance or responding work?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: I think the figure is 45.
Q320 Chairman: What about other agencies?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: The main agencies you have sat here, they are the two main ones, and then the balance of the 115 is obviously the Police Service, then also you have the vessels that the Coastguard and the Border Agency have.
Q321 Chairman: The police have roughly what?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: It is of the order of 70.
Q322 Chairman: And the Coastguards have how many?
Mr Johnson: We have five inshore patrol boats currently in commission: one in the Thames Estuary, one in the Solent, one in the South West and two in Scotland, one on each coast.
Q323 Chairman: And the UK Border Agency?
Mr Clark: Five.
Q324 Chairman: You have got the five you have just been talking about. TRANSEC?
Ms Tompkinson: We do not own any maritime assets but the ports that we regulate - we do not require them to have any capability but some of them will obviously for their own purposes.
Q325 Mr Jenkin: How does MACA work - Military Aid to the Civil Authorities? How does that liaise with the Ministry of Defence work? How does the process work in the way of responsibility?
Ms Tompkinson: If it was a request for military aid, as we said earlier the request would come from the police to COBRA and would be discussed at COBRA with either the Prime Minister or the Home Secretary, or whichever minister was in the lead, to agree whether or not that should be granted, and that would come with a plan as to why the request was being made and what military aid was going to be put in place.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: In the event that the military do deploy to take action there is a documentary handover of responsibility because one of the things that I hope has come out up to now is that in the event of a crime, even if it is counter-terrorism - terrorism is a crime so the police retain primacy in terms of the investigation of the crime even if it cannot intervene immediately, and then there is a handover of power to the military to take that action, with a written handover between the Gold of the police and the senior officer for the military, but that has to be signed off by the Government.
Q326 Mr Jenkin: Because of the Gold command chain that you have described, in a crisis those military assets required to handle the crisis would be under the ultimate command of that civilian Gold commander.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: Not at the point at which they were taking action. That is the purpose of the documentary handover; the police are handing over control - they are not handing over control of the military's assets because they clearly have control of that but they hand over control of that operation and then, at the end of the operation, there is a written handover back so the police assume primacy if they take over an investigation.
Q327 Mr Jenkin: In the event of a crisis there may well be a senior military figure who then is running the crisis at a tactical level.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: Usually there are two; there is one who sits in COBRA, as there would be a senior police officer sitting there, and then there would be a commander on the ground obviously.
Q328 Mr Jenkin: Are you confident there is sufficient permanent liaison between that potential Gold commander you describe in the anti-terrorist branch and the Ministry of Defence? What level of continuing co-operation is there in order to ensure that MoD and the Armed Forces and the police understand each other's mode of operation and capabilities?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: If you were to characterise it I would say excellent. From time to time different people will be sat in the chair because sometimes the military will bring different resources to the party depending on what the problem is, and occasionally it may be that the Gold commander from the Police Service is in a different part of the country, but we exercise together very often. What you have also had over the last three to five years of the counter-terrorist operation that has happened in this country is that there has been a growing experience of the police working with the military because that is what events have driven us towards, so the National Counter-Terrorism Investigator who has been in the past, as you know, Peter Clarke, now John McDowell, Andy Hayman and now Bob Quick, they are in very regular contact with the military during their working lives anyway so then from time to time they will come together for this committee to deal with a particular high profile or very dangerous situation. That operates in two ways. You have the COBRA situation which is when something sometimes literally but definitely has the potential for blowing up and becoming a very serious matter, and then it is not irregular to have the Emergency Liaison Groups, which are happening right around the country, reasonably regularly. Where there is a terrorist threat the local force has to deal with it, the Metropolitan Police are involved and other agencies, and the way to manage that operation is by something called an ELG which takes place in the police force area where it happens and there will also be a parallel event happening in London. For those two reasons both the COBRA experience and the Emergency Liaison Group experience are well-tested and at the relationship level they know each pretty well and trust each other. Again, that is not something I would be particularly concerned about at this stage.
Q329 John Smith: A good test of the effectiveness of all this is the frequency of joint exercises, and you said you often have exercises. How often, who initiates them and who pays for them? Do the military regularly participate given the pressures they have got elsewhere?
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: Certainly in terms of counter-terrorism operations generally there are three exercises that will happen every year: one is called Remount - and that is not the name of the particular operation, one type of exercise is called Remount - one is called New Salesman and one is called a Glow. The New Salesman exercise is a tabletop exercise, so people sit around the table and do what you might imagine on paper feeds. You have the Remount exercise which is a live exercise where you have people outside the room doing things, whether it be on water or actually exercising the process that you want to test, and that is without COBRA sitting. Then you have the final one, which is a Glow, where COBRA will sit. It may not be that all the players are there, the senior ministers may be tied up and sometimes a senior civil servant will play the role of the minister, but the video link and all the other things that go with that type of operation are tested. That is three times a year in different force areas and then at the moment, over the last three years, we have had a maritime exercise. Coincidentally - and it is not arranged for this Committee's benefit - we are having a tabletop tomorrow around maritime because there is something in particular we want to check out. Then there is an Operation Wessex Torch, which takes place in March, and will be actually exercising on the water with all the agencies involved. This is not just because of this Committee's interest; that type of exercise takes a lot of planning. To go to the final point, the military do take part. It is obviously a bit easier, as it is for us, on the tabletop but when it gets to the live exercises they take part in large numbers. The costs tend to some extent to fall where they are but to be fair, also, the Home Office and all the ministries will do their best to support us in funding, particularly on the biggest. Probably the final point to make is that I took part last year, not in a maritime exercise but in a counter-terrorism exercise in the North West which was the largest we had had in this country. It crossed four police forces, we had two Golds operating for three days and I know that was a very significant cost and it was a very significant deployment of the military, particularly of some of the more specialist assets they have. They are quite prepared even, as you have indicated, in difficult times to turn up in large numbers because they know that it is best to exercise and if it is going to go wrong it is best that we discover that quickly in that environment and not when we have to. There is a great commitment on everybody's part, therefore, to make sure it works.
Q330 Chairman: The final question. Let us go back to John Smith's constituency and let us assume that some of these targets that he has identified are part of the critical national infrastructure. Would it be helpful to have a deterrent? I know you give advice to these organisations but would it be helpful to have a deterrent presence around elements of the critical national infrastructure in the maritime environment?
Ms Tompkinson: That will depend on what it is and where it is and it will be part of the protective security advice that is given. As I say, it does not come directly from my department but from those who advise the industries on their protective security. Some of the security will be very much about locks and bolts and fences and some of it may well be about policing and patrolling and things that will provide a visual deterrent, so that will be part of the advice that is given on a site by site basis.
Q331 Chairman: It would be you giving advice to them rather than the agencies in front of us today providing such a deterrent presence.
Ms Tompkinson: The advice comes from the agency responsible for protective security in that area, the Centre for the Protection of the National Infrastructure and they will give advice to the critical national infrastructure as to how best to protect themselves. In some instances part of that may well be a permanent police presence; that is certainly true on the land side but not necessarily on the maritime side.
Chief Constable Hogan-Howe: I would not mislead you but certainly it is true that the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Police do have a seaborne capacity. What I would not try and give you detail about is exactly what that is formed by, but I do know that we have just signed a Memorandum of Understanding with them because there are transport issues at sea that they need to prepare and have prepared very carefully for. Again, it is probably not something to be talked about in this open forum but they do have a capacity that allows them to provide that protective environment around certain sites and around certain transport arrangements.
Chairman: Thank you very much indeed. It has been helpful and interesting evidence that you have given us this morning and you will be relieved to know that that is the end of it.