Examination of Witnesses (Questions 248-289)
Chair: We now move
to the session of questions about policing. I am most grateful
to our new panel of witnesses. Could you please introduce yourselves?
Group Captain Whitmell: Good morning
all. I am Group Captain John Whitmell and the Provost Marshal
for the Royal Air Force, which means that I am the head of the
Royal Air Force Police and am also responsible for certain elements
of counter-intelligence and security.
Chief Constable Love: I am Stephen
Love, chief executive of the Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding
Agency, which means that I am simultaneously chief constable of
the Ministry of Defence Police and also in charge of the Ministry
of Defence Guard Service, which is the unarmed security guards.
Chair: So that is three jobs.
Commander West: Morning, sir.
My name is Commander Tony West and I am Head of the Royal Navy
Police. I am the RN's adviser on all Royal Navy police matters,
and am responsible for professional standards within the RN Police,
and for RNP investigations, recruiting and policy making.
Brigadier Forster-Knight: I am
Brigadier Eddie Forster-Knight. I am the Provost Marshal (Army)
and in that guise I am the chief officer of the Royal Military
Police. I am also the head of the Military Provost Staff, who
are the defence detention experts who run the Military Corrective
Training Centre and operational detention facilities, and the
Tri-Service head for the Military Provost Guard Service, which
is the armed guard service for the MoD.
Chair: Thank you. Mr Morrison, we saw
you last week, but remind us of your responsibilities.
Mr Morrison: I am Humphrey Morrison.
I am Head of Legislation, and so am Head of the legal team for
Q248 Mark Lancaster: Thank you
very much, gentlemen, for your introductions. Your many roles
almost highlight my first question. In evidence last week, we
were struck by how many different organisations were potentially
involved in providing security at some MoD bases, and I think
that you have just run though the complete list. Is there a problem
with having so many different organisations providing security?
We did not, of course, include private security firms, which are
also involved, with their own separate chains of command. Does
that present a problem and, perhaps more importantly, is there
any scope for reducing the number of organisations involved in
providing security? Perhaps we can give the Chief Constable an
extra couple of roles in addition to the three he already has.
Brigadier Forster-Knight: If I
may, I will lead on that subject. From an Army perspective, the
Military Police are focused on policing, not security. We are
there to police the Military wherever it exists, and, primarily,
that is in the 10 principle garrisons in the UK and Germany, and
also in some of the far-off posts abroad, of course. The Military
Provost Guard Servicethis was introduced some years agoto
provide armed guarding, assessed against risk and necessity, to
reduce the pressure on our soldiers, who are constantly facing
operational tours, so that they could have some relief. As you
know, they are essentially ex-soldiers employed on home service
only Terms of Service.
Clearly, there are other aspects of security
and policing. All this is being looked at as part of the SDSR
process. There is also a security review to examine all the sites
across the Military and asses them into the level of security
that is required, such as armed or unarmed guarding, and to re-look
at how the various organisations might be best matched. From my
perspective, the reality is that the Royal Military Police is
focused on policing and the MPGS is focused on armed guarding.
The chief constable of the MDP will give his view about where
he fits in the mosaic.
Chief Constable Love: The sites
at which more than one or two of these different Forces are present
are few and far between. They tend to be the larger and most complex
sites, with the most complex requirements. On my side of the house,
the two organisations I runthe Police Service and the Unarmed
Guards Serviceare completely different in role and function.
The Ministry of Defence Police is a specialist Police Force that
provides bespoke services to the Ministry of Defence, principally
on nuclear weapons security and so on. It has specialised roles
beyond the remit of other police forces and it is, for the most
The unarmed security guards do exactly thatunarmed
security. There is no overlap between the two functions; one is
top-end specialist policing and the other is industrial-type security
guarding. We achieve economies by combining the two at headquarters
level. There is a single headquarters and each of the support
functions are shared. I think three people here have visited it.
Q249 Mark Lancaster: Is there
not then, potentially, an overlap, apart from the obvious, between
the Unarmed Guards Service and the Military Provost Guard Service?
Anybody used to a military estate is used to alert states changing
and it going between Unarmed Guards and Armed Guards. Is there
not scope for those two organisations?
Chief Constable Love: The framework
in which the armed and unarmed guarding side of the business is
delivered is under review and recommendations on that
Q250 Mark Lancaster: So, yes,
there is scope.
Chief Constable Love: There is
scope. It's under review. I think that recommendations from the
review will be with the Defence Board and Ministers in the first
part of this year.
Q251 Mark Lancaster: May I perhaps
be slightly more controversial then? Given that the Armed Forces
Act harmonised military law across the three Services and most,
if not all, training is common, why do we continue in a world
with so many joint things that the Armed Forces need three individual
Service Police Forces?
Brigadier Forster-Knight: It is
probably best that I lead on that point. The outputs of the three
service police are very different. The Royal Military Police is
a police force and a combat police force, with soldiers living
in and among troops of the Army out to the frontline. I will let
PMRAF talk about his bit in a minute, but it is a very different
concept. What I would say is that the three service police forces
have been tailored to meet the outputs required of them.
Over the past seven years, we have looked at
all the areas where we can work together. We now have a single
training establishment, a single Service police crime bureau,
a single close protection unit and a single military corrective
training centre, and we all operate off the same police IT system.
We have looked at our training, our investigative training and
the areas that are commonthere is a great deal that is
not commonand brought them together. That is certainly
true in policing and investigations. That includes everything
from forensics through to investigative training.
Fundamentally, however, the outputs of the three
service police are still very different in a number of areas.
The common brick is policing and investigations, where we've worked
over the past seven years to ensure that all of the efficiencies
that can be achieved are achieved. In essence, it is I as PM Army
who takes the lead in that area. The only locations where we are
in the same place are Gibraltar, Falklands and Cyprus, which are
known as the Permanent Joint Operating Bases, and I have the technical
lead for that. I have the technical lead for doctrine and policy
development in the policing arena; I run the Close Protection
Unit, the Service police Crime Bureau and the Military Corrective
Training Centre; and indeed I have the lead in the operational
theatre for investigations. There still need to be experts in
the Navy and Air environments to deal with their particular requirements,
and they can best explain those.
Q252 Mark Lancaster: It is certainly
a very robust answer, but if anything I can't wait now to see
what the other Service Chiefs are saying, because you seem to
be arguing the case for further amalgamation.
Brigadier Forster-Knight: The
point is we understand that we must work together in certain areas.
Where there are common themes, we must do that, and that is fundamentally
understood among certainly our forebears and us now in post. We
are making sure that we make best use of defence resources to
achieve those efficiencies.
Q253 Mark Lancaster: But why can't
you now have a single provost marshal of staff to accommodate
Brigadier Forster-Knight: In reality,
you could, but the reality is that that would just increase the
costing of creating a single joint provost marshal and staff,
because ultimately you would still have to have the Single Service
provost marshals embedded in the front-line commands. I come under
the command directly of CGS, but my headquarters is based at the
land headquarters in Andover. I police the Army, and I need to
be based with the Army command headquarters to do so. I would
argue that my compatriots need to do the same. You could create
a joint Service Provost Marshal in the Centre, but I would argue
that is an additional overhead and will require additional resources,
which perhaps at this time we don't need to spend.
Group Captain Whitmell: If I may
take the discussion a little bit further, within the Royal Air
Force, as I said in my introduction, I also deliver a large amount
of security and counter-intelligence aspects on behalf of the
Royal Air Force. Although our title is that of the Royal Air Force
Police, only about 30% of our function is a policing function.
The other 70% delivers a very definite security requirement, whether
that is via military working dogs, our counter-intelligence support
or, on a simpler level, security patrolling at military bases.
Where we have economies of scale, as the Brigadier
has already said, we work together. We do joint training, and
the function for the Royal Air Force of the Royal Air Force Police
would impinge on wider areas of the Army than just the Royal Military
Police, because other elements such as the Intelligence Corps
deliver the security function. My computer security function is
delivered by the Royal Signals, by way of example. We are, in
some ways, a complicating element in terms of that break-out of
Q254 Mark Lancaster: But why can't
your intelligence function co-locate at Chicksands with the Intelligence
Group Captain Whitmell: In similar
things there are fronts where we have a shared functionwe
do have that shared functionbut we are also in disparate
locations. Where the Royal Air Force is located, generally the
Army and the Royal Navy aren't, and vice versa. Royal Air Force
stations in Lossiemouth, Valley and Boulmerthere are very
few Army locations close by, so the economies of scale would only
be in terms of uniform change rather than in delivery of task.
Q255 Mark Lancaster: Other than
the physical location of your Service men and women, what functions
do you carry out in the intelligence world that cannot be delivered
Group Captain Whitmell: Probably
nil, but it's the duality of personalityin one person I
have a policeman and a security person. Take that one Royal Air
Force person away, and you will then need an Intelligence Corps
person and a policing function. So, actually, I would argue that
I provide a greater economy of scale than your proposal.
Commander West: I would just like
to give you an example from where the Royal Navy stands with this.
I would just like you to imagine, if you would, a ship full of
200 people, one of which is the senior of two police officers
who are on board. Some people would imagine that he would sit
around and wait for something to happen. It does not work like
that. The guy on board is effectively the flight deck officer,
which is, for those of you who may not know, the guy who stands
on the back of the vessel and directs helicopter operations, on
a one-in-two or one-in-three shift system when the ship is operationally
active. He is also the assistant security officer on board the
ship; he has physically security responsibilities for the gangway,
and oversight of all the gangway staff, etc. When the ship is
on counter-piracy operations, he is the custody subject matter
expert and also a member of the boarding party. He deals with
the mail on board, the customs and revenue, and is also an assistant
to one of the more senior middle management guys called the Warrant
Officer, which includes manpower and co-ordination duties, replenishment
at sea duties, planning, storing, ship planning, patrols planninglots
and lots of minor admin roles. If you took away those roles and
just let him be the policeman on board, he would very soon have
very little to do. So what we are saying is, yes, he is a sailor
first and he carries out all of these roles, but he also has the
capability to be a policeman.
Q256 Bob Russell: Chief Constable,
we are a Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill, looking at
improving the lot of Military personnel and their families, the
Military Covenant and so on. We have been given written evidence
from the Defence Police Federation, which in paragraph 8 says,
"Evidence suggests that the mere presence of the Ministry
of Defence Police in married quarters and other locations serves
to increase the confidence of Service personnel as to the safety
of their families." Is that a statement that you would endorse?
Chief Constable Love: Yes.
Q257 Bob Russell: The reason behind
thatand Mr Morrison will recall this from five years ago
when we last debated the Armed Forces Billat that time
the Ministry of Defence Police was being run down on various Army,
Navy and Air Force housing estates around the country, and in
response to a written question it has been confirmed that the
number of Ministry of Defence Police based on Colchester Garrison
has gone from 30 to three. Under those circumstances, has the
mere presence of the MoD Police in married quarters gone up or
Chief Constable Love: It has gone
down in Colchester, for obvious reasons30 down to three.
As chief constable, I do not set the number of officers I have
providing security and support on married quarters, or Service
quarters. I am the supplier not the customer; the Ministry of
Defence decides how many and where. What the Ministry of Defence
did over the last three years or so was take about 90 police officers
who were in that role in relatively large clusters in a few placesof
which Colchester was oneand redistributed about 60 of them
in ones and twos to garrisons and Service families all over the
country. This was prioritised according to need and operational
tempo, and they made a saving at the same time. I have to say
that I think that is a logical thing to dogiven a scarce
asset, you spread it thinly across the places where it is most
neededbut I am in absolutely no doubt as to the importance
of providing that service, whether by ones or twos or by 30. It
is quite clear to me that when a military unit deploys overseasparticularly
to combatit is, by definition, leaving behind an entire
estate of relatively low-income single parent families, with all
of the stresses and pressures of combat and those fears, as well
as things that would accompany normal life. So I view it as a
very important thing that we do, but it is a thing we have had
to reduce in some areas so as to spread it to other areas where
the Army in particular most requires it.
Bob Russell: The Committee will be visiting
the Colchester Garrison next MondayI hope there will be
an opportunity for us to pursue that localised point because I
think it has a national impact as well. We have also been given
a memorandum by the Ministry of Defence, which supports the views
I have expressed in a question here and which I posed five years
ago. The memorandum tells a good story but the reality is that
there is far less police presence, in whatever uniform, in our
married quarters. At a time when 3,000 soldiers are deployed to
Afghanistan and at a time when a garrison estate is increasingly
being occupied by civilian families, I have to say to both Brigadier
Forster-Knight and Chief Constable Love that the reality on the
ground does not tally with that memorandum. As a last observation,
you have not mentioned the civilian policeby that I mean
the Essex Constabulary.
Chair: Those points
have been noted but let us remember that we are questioning the
witnesses, rather than making comments.
Bob Russell: My point is that we are
being given memorandums that are telling us things which in reality
are not happening.
Chair: Yes, but that is a point that
you will be able to make at a later stage during the course of
Q258 Thomas Docherty: Chief Constable,
if I understood you correctly, one of your core functions relates
to the escorting of nuclear materials. It strikes me that these
days there is a significant overlap between the work of the MoD
Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, whose prime function
seems to be the escorting of nuclear materials. Are there not
some significant savings that could be made by merging MoD Police
and the CNC into one Service?
Chief Constable Love: Yes, if
I could crave your indulgence and stay with the last point. I
have not seen the memorandum you refer to and I hope there is
no implication that I have provided you with a false one. I do
not recall that at all.
On the CNC, as Chief Constable of the Ministry
of Defence Police, I am quite clear that I can see no operational
benefit whatever in having two different police forces providing
an ostensibly similar function in terms of the security of nuclear
weapons. The MoD Police provide a number of other specialist functions
which are nothing to do with nuclear weapons and we need to remember
that. I can see no operational justification for it. Such justifications
as there may be will inevitably be political, historical, financial
and so on, but there is no operational case for that situation.
Q259 Thomas Docherty: Secondly,
Group Captain, you talked about howI paraphrase slightlythere
are few examples of inter-Service personnel on the same side.
Going forward, subject to the SDSR's outcomes, the aircraft carriers
and their groups will clearly have RAF personnel serving on them.
I imagine that there will be a whole extension down the line.
As the basing decisions are made about RAF bases and the Army
returns from Germany, it is quite reasonable, from what the other
Minister of State has said, that there will be sharing of sites.
Surely, going forward, that will no longer be the case?
Group Captain Whitmell: On board
ship is a prime example of a shared site and I would fully anticipate
the Royal Navy Police to have the lead on that area, for obvious
reasons. By the same token, if a large Army unit was moved to
an RAF base, the RAF Police would take the lead. Similarly, if
an RAF unit was moved on to a large Army garrison, the Royal Military
Police would take primacy, and I would see no difficulties in
Q260 Thomas Docherty: But my central
point is that your earlier statement, while it may be true today,
is unlikely to be the case in 2015 or certainly in 2020 by the
time the Army comes back from the Rhine.
Group Captain Whitmell: I don't
know, obviously, whether decisions have been made, but I would
anticipate that the majority of Royal Air Force stations, such
as RAF Marham, will remain RAF stations. There is little scope
to put additional resources in there. If we left a base perhaps
on the closure of a unit, somewhere like RAF Cottesmore, which
has been announced, and the Army went there, we would have no
presence there anyway.
Chair: Moving on to the independence
of Service police, Chris Pincher.
Q261 Christopher Pincher: Clauses
3 and 5 aim to ensure the independence of Service police investigations.
Do you feel confident that that those provisions go far enough
to alleviate any concerns about your operational independence?
Brigadier Forster-Knight: It is
probably best if I lead on that, given my lead in this area. For
me, the provisions do go far enough. The constitutional position
and the make-up of the various police forces in this country are
interesting. The Home Office Police Forces are formulated under
their own bespoke legislation of the Police Act. The MDP has its
own MDP Act, whereas the service police are formulated under the
Armed Forces Act, as units and part of the Armed Forces. It is
important, given the need to be absolutely clear about the independence
of the investigative process, that there are clear measures in
the Act that buttress and underpin the whole business of the independence
of the investigative process. There is potential for confusion,
given that we are formulated as part of the Armed Forces. That
is something that we need to separate out and have a clear articulation
that it is conducted independently.
For me, the measures do go far enough. They
are coupled with other non-statutory measures we have introduced:
command and control arrangements. I now answer to CGS personally
and to the Army Board of the Defence Council. I have taken operational
command of the whole of the Military Police. These are not just
three principal statutory measures; there are other non-statutory
measures that have been introduced to provide an overall framework
Q262 Christopher Pincher: Can
I just move on from that? One of these statutory, or potentially
statutory measures, is a provision upon you to ensure that investigations
are free from improper interference. Could you give us a definition
of what you believe improper interference might be?
Mr Morrison: As it is a definition
in the Bill, would you prefer me to answer that?
Q263 Christopher Pincher: Let's
start with you Mr Morrison, then we can confirm that your view
is everyone else's.
Mr Morrison: Improper interference
is specifically defined in the Bill, so as to have a very wide
meaning. It covers two areas. One is interference which would
actually be an offencefor example, an offence of obstructing
a Provost Officer or perverting the course of justice. It covers
that sort of wrongdoing. However, it also covers the mistaken
but honest attempts by anyone in the chain of command, but outside
the Service police, to tell the Service police how to carry out
an investigation. The duty of the Provost Marshals under the clause
is not merely to ensure that the people are dealt with where they
are committing offences, but also to protect their independence
from even honest but mistaken attempts by the Military chain of
command to say how they think an investigation should be carried
Q264 Christopher Pincher: So it
is the case that improper interference is defined, rather than
proper interference is defined and everything else which is not
proper is thereby improper interference. Is that correct?
Mr Morrison: Yes, I think so.
Yes, it is defined.
Brigadier Forster-Knight: For
me, there is also the bit that you have touched on of proper interference.
There are clearly times when it is wholly appropriate for a commanding
officer and the Military chain of command to engage with the Service
police on investigations. The Commanding Officer is de facto the
magistrate. They are busy people and in reality we are conducting
investigations often in a very difficult environment. There has
to be engagement with the CO or the Military chain of command.
There are times when it is wholly proper that that engagement
occurs. What must not happen is any undue influence to curtail,
stop or prevent an investigation. That is my business as a Provost
Q265 Christopher Pincher: Clause
3to go back to the terminology againsays, "
a person who is not a service policeman must not direct an investigation".
Is there a properly understood definition of what direction might
or might not be?
Mr Morrison: There's not a definition.
"Direct" is given its common-sense meaning. You define
the basic concept, but you don't try to define every single word
in a long statute. As Brigadier Forster-Knight rightly saidand
here the experience of the Provost Marshals is vital in understanding
what is appropriate and what isn'tthere is inevitably,
particularly on operations, an area in which, if you like, a friction
occurs or a rubbing up occurs between the responsibilities of
the chain of command to carry out operations and the responsibility
of the Provost Marshals to ensure that investigations are carried
It is at that stage, which is well recognised,
that the sort of situations that can arise in which the COthe
chain of commandhas got its focus entirely on getting from
A to B, carrying out the operation; and the Provost Marshal is
focusing perhaps on going to a particular place to have an investigation
undertaken. There is legitimate scope for discussion, for liaison
and for agreement on how to handle the situation.
This clause, if you like, gives the Provost
Marshals that extra or clearer authority to say, "Remember,
it is quite clear what our job is. I have a specific statutory
duty to safeguard the independence of my investigation. You may
not be able to do everything I want, and it may be legitimate
for you to refuse to do that because you have proper priorities
of your own, but I have to safeguard the independence of my investigation
so far as I possibly can." Trying to define every single
word in the clause wouldn't help experienced officers, who are
used to dealing with these sorts of situations.
Q266 Christopher Pincher: What
I am trying to get is that there could be a situation where the
CO might say, "You will do this," and that would be
taken as a direction.
Mr Morrison: It would, indeed.
Q267 Christopher Pincher: He might
otherwise say, "Would you consider doing this?" Potentially,
that would be considered as advice rather than direction.
Mr Morrison: Yes. It depends how
he says it, but yes.
Brigadier Forster-Knight: Certainly,
Mr Morrison has highlighted the most acute area, which is on operations.
We have devised our investigative doctrine for operations accordingly,
to take account of that. If there is a friction between the needs
of the operation and the needs of the investigation, we will simply
account for that by taking statements from relevant commanders
as to why certain action could not be taken at that point. This
presents us with a different environment from our civil police
colleagues, who would normally just pursue their investigation.
There are very legitimate reasons, but because we're Military
investigators and because we're deployed with the Force and part
of the Force, we understand the operational context and the operational
tempo; we understand those limitations. What I've got to do is
to make sure that they are accounted for in evidence, so that
come judgment day, we're in a position to explain why there may
have been a delay in a particular investigative strand.
Q268 Christopher Pincher: You
mentioned the civil police. How do you think that these new provisions
will affect your relationship and your co-operation with them,
and also with the Ministry of Defence Police?
Brigadier Forster-Knight: I think,
very well. Most of the civil police are completely unaware that
we don't have some of these powers. That's the truth of it, but
the reality is that we work very closely with the civil police.
Again, part of our development agenda has seen all three Service
Provost Marshals becoming members of ACPO. We have adopted ACPO
core investigative doctrine, and the various ACPO training manuals.
We are aligning much more of our training with the National Policing
Improvement Agency doctrine and training. We are under all the
relevant national inspectorates. We've done this over the last
five or six years to improve our liaison with the civil police,
and our interfaces at every level. We are part of the Police National
Database in the sharing of our data, post-Bichard. If you come
into our organisation, you'll find the look and feel of the civil
police in terms of our policing and investigative model, but within
a Service context, and that's the bit that we have to remember.
Q269 Christopher Pincher: My next
question is to the Chief Constable. How do you ensure that the
MDP are not unduly influenced?
Chief Constable Love: It is a
question that has never been askedbut it has never been
necessary. Everybody is absolutely clear that we are a constabulary
police force, with the same degree of independence and integrity
as any other police forcehopefully including your own.
So my status as a chief constable and the independence of my command
are quite clear. In terms of the exercise of our judicial authority,
we're answerable to the courts alone, but our independence as
a police force is reinforced by an independently chaired police
committee with independently appointed members, whose remit is
quite specifically to maintain oversight of the exercise of our
constabulary authority, with arrangements which I would argue
are more robust than those for Home Office Forces. If I felt there
was the slightest inklingor, indeed, if he didthat
there was any interference, we would take immediate steps to deal
with it and report it.
Q270 Christopher Pincher: But
because there are so many agencies involved, as we've already
heard, do you think that a leading, if not overlapping, of responsibilities
means that there could be any form of interference between agencies?
Chief Constable Love: I have encountered
absolutely none. I've been Chief Constable for nearly six years,
and it's something I'm very much alert to. I even include in my
annual Report to the Secretary of State a line at the end confirming
that there has been no interference.
Q271 Gemma Doyle: What powers
do the Provost Marshals have to deal with improper interference
if it is detected?
Brigadier Forster-Knight: There
are a number of escalatory measures that we can usefrom
a simple phone call directly to the individual through to section
27 of the Armed Forces Act 2006 on obstruction and interference
to, ultimately, perverting the course of public justice. I think
the measures there are sufficient. I would echo Mr Love's comments.
I have been a Provost Marshal now for almost two years, and I've
not encountered interference in my time as Provost Marshal. It's
something that is very much taught in the Armycertainly
on all the COs-designate and adjutants' courses that deal with
G1 affairsabout the independence of the Service police
to conduct those investigations. We are very conscious of it,
but the Army, from my perspective, is also very conscious of it
and takes appropriate measures in terms of educating commanding
officers and adjutants who are involved in the disciplinary process.
Commander West: From a naval perspective,
all our commanding officers and executive officers go through
a course prior to taking up their appointments, in which they're
briefed by legal colleagues from within the Service. Part of that
is telling them exactly where their powers start and stop. I also
go along and brief the COs as well, so that everybody's absolutely
clear where their lines of demarcation finish. From my perspectiveI've
been in the post for three years nowI've never heard of
any interference from COs or anybody else within an investigation.
Group Captain Whitmell: I can
confirm exactly the same from a Royal Air Force perspective. Again,
we brief throughout the chain of command, there is an extensive
process, and in the absolute worst caseagain, that has
not happened in my nearly two years as Provost Marshalwe
can go as far as a secondary investigation if we need to. But
I stress that that has not happened.
Commander West: We have all got
professional standards units as well. One of the questions that
my guys will ask is, "Have you had any interference at all?"
once they go on board the ships. I am sure that colleagues also
have the same provision.
Brigadier Forster-Knight: There
have been a few historic cases, and some of them are well documented,
but it is now fundamentally understood. The other thing about
the Act is that it only came into force on 31 October 2009, so
that's when the sea change happened in terms of discipline. Although
the Act is dated 2006, from the point of view of disciplinary
processes it's only been in force since 31 October 2009.
Mr Morrison: It may give some
reference if I add an explanation there. It's worth looking at
this new provision as the other side of the coin that was addressed
in great detail in the 2006 Act, which is the duty of the CO to
make sure that the Service police are aware of matters. It was
the 2006 Act, which the Brigadier was referring to, that introduced,
first, an express duty on the COs to ensure that matters were
always investigated properly; but, on top of that, it ensured
that in a wide category of either more serious offences or offences
that occurred in what we call prescribed or sensitive circumstances,
such as people in custody, the matter was referred to the Service
police, so that they could investigate it. Then, when they were
investigating those serious offences, they would refer to the
Director of Service Prosecutions for both advice and a decision.
The provision in the Bill is an extra buttressing to what was
already a very comprehensive set of provisions in the 2006 Act
for the position of the CO and the prosecutor.
Q272 Gemma Doyle: Finally, could
you say then what measures you would actually take in practice
on an investigation to be able to tick the box and say, "Yes,
I have fulfilled this duty"?
Commander West: Would it not be
by exception? Are you saying that we need to tick a box to say,
"I have not been interfered with"?
Q273 Gemma Doyle: Sorry, I wasn't
suggesting that there is a form, but if the duty is to ensure
that every investigation is free from improper interference, what
measures will you actually take in practice to ensure that you
have met that duty?
Brigadier Forster-Knight: I can
easily answer that. From my perspective, I have given very clear
instructions to my command team that any form of interference
is to be reported to my Deputy Provost Marshal (investigations),
who is a full colonel, within 24 hours of it occurring. That is
reinforced at my face-to-face command groups with all my commanding
officers, which I hold roughly three times a year, and my monthly
VTCs, because I effectively have a global police force with people
all around the globe, dealing with that on a
Q274 Chair: VTC being?
Brigadier Forster-Knight: Video
teleconference. So we would do that, and that is also part of
the agenda for those monthly meetings.
Group Captain Whitmell: I would
echo that it is by exception. It's the case that it is briefed
when it happenswhich it hasn'trather than as a routine.
Q275 Mr Jones: Clause 4 makes
the Police subject to HMIC inspection, although it has limited
powers. Does that go far enough in trying to ensure that the Military
Police Service is both independent and effective?
Group Captain Whitmell: The powers
of HMIC are very well respected and received from our perspective.
Anything that tests our efficiency and effectiveness and measures
our ability as a police force is to be hugely welcomed. It is
also a measure of the testing of our independence. We, the Royal
Air Force Police, have been subject to one inspection only so
far, which was a voluntary inspection in 2009, but the value that
we achieved from it was huge. Putting that on a statutory footing
can only benefit and further develop us as a police service and
can only enhance our abilities properly to police the community.
Commander West: I would second
Brigadier Forster-Knight: The
civilian police are looked at for efficiency and effectiveness;
we're being looked at for independence and effectiveness. I think
that is wholly appropriate, given the way we are constituted under
the Armed Forces Act 2006. We've been inspected twice by HMIC,
and the inspections have been, as the Group Captain has said,
rigorous and very informative, and we have taken forward, in principle,
nearly all its recommendations. So I am perfectly content that
the measures in place are appropriate. I also believe that the
measures give, shall we say, sufficient wriggle room for HMIC
to look at slightly wider aspects of our work when it relates
to the overall policing and investigation piece.
Q276 Mr Jones: How do the HMIC
powers in relation to the single-service police compare with the
Mr Morrison: The powers under
the Police ActI think it's section 54for the Home
Office Police Forces don't cover independence. They cover efficiency
and effectiveness. So, although the provision in the Bill focuses
on investigations, the HMIC, in effect, have a wider remit than
in the case of either the MDP or the Home Office Police Forces,
because they are looking the effectiveness of the investigations
and their independence. We regard it as particularly important
to include this specifically because of the issue that has been
referred to of highlighting, as brightly as we can, the fact that
the arrangements that we have in place guarantee that, while the
Service police aren't part of the Armed Forces, their investigations
will be independent.
Q277 Chair: In 2009, regulations
were issued about the conduct of the Ministry of Defence Police.
I am not entirely clear whether those were the conduct regulations
or the misconduct regulations. Have any issues arisen out of those
regulations that we need to be aware of? What will the Secretary
of State do next in relation to those regulations?
Chief Constable Love: The conduct
regulations have been in for two years. They are the same as the
rest of the United Kingdom civilian police force and they are
running smoothly. What is missing is the regulation that sits
under that, which is the regulation for unsatisfactory performancewhere
somebody is not working well enough but is not misbehaving. All
other police forces have unsatisfactory performance regulations
that dovetail with the conduct regulations. When I say dovetail,
it means that someone can move between the two scales. They can
start off underperforming and move into misconduct or back down
again. We have the conduct regulations but not the performance
regulations for the simple reason that our founding legislation
did not contain any provision to introduce performance regulations;
it only allowed conduct regulations. This Armed Forces Bill is,
therefore, the first opportunity to introduce in clause 6 the
enabling clause for us to introduce the performance regulations
that sit under the conduct regulations. As soon as we have done
that, we will then have exactly the same regulations as all other
Q278 Chair: That is very interesting.
When do you expect to introduce those regulations?
Chief Constable Love: As quickly
as we can get them past Mr Morrison.
Q279 Alex Cunningham: How significant
are the new powers of search and entry for Service police contained
in clause 7?
Brigadier Forster-Knight: The
clause 7 provisions for search and entry are very significant
to us. A changing dynamic is going on in terms of the way in which
Service men live their lives. Some 20 years ago, they either lived
in barracks or in the married quarter. Now Service men are very
much more mobile and they are often living out in the local community.
They may have girlfriends and they may still retain a room at
their home address. They are moving around very frequently these
days because of the nature of military operations. Therefore,
the ability to gain their multiple entry warrant is an important
development for us, particularly in fast-moving investigations,
relating to things such as weapon loss, fraud and so on.
Q280 Alex Cunningham: So you are
suggesting that investigations in the past have been hampered
as a direct result of the fact that you have not had these powers?
Brigadier Forster-Knight: I would
agree with that assertion.
Q281 Alex Cunningham: You have
explained why it is necessary now, but what protections were in
place as well because there are differences between your role
and the role of the civilian police?
Brigadier Forster-Knight: Yes,
and I think that is where we have had long and hard discussions
with my lawyer to my left over the provisions. Of course we will
have to go to a Judge Advocate to obtain the warrant in the first
place, though his warrants will be limited to relevant residential
premisespremises linked to the suspect. In that regard,
the appropriate safeguards are in place to ensure that we are
not riding roughshod.
Q282 Alex Cunningham: It appears
that the Ministry of Defence Police don't particularly agree with
that. Some of the representatives were telling me that they think
that there are risks associated with that.
Brigadier Forster-Knight: There
are risks associated with everything, but the safeguards that
are in place, such as having a Judge Advocate authorising that
in the first place and limiting warrants to relevant residential
premises, are wholly appropriate.
Q283 Alex Cunningham: Chief Constable
Love, the MDP already has these powers. Do you think that they
are required by the Service police, or do you foresee any problems?
Chief Constable Love: You have
referred to objections from the Ministry of Defence Police. You
are probably referring to correspondence from the Ministry of
Defence Police Federation.
Alex Cunningham: Indeed I am, yes.
Chief Constable Love: It is quite
a significant extension of the powers somewhere on the police-civilian
interface. They are powers that Home Department Forces and the
MoD Police already have and are available to the service police
on request, by application or in the course of a joint operation.
The MDP are very rarely asked, because very
few of our investigations overlap with service police investigations.
We operate in different worlds dealing with different things.
I am sure that Home Department forces are asked more often. Clearly
the powers would work as described, so I don't have a professional
view on whether they would cause any difficulty. The extent to
which it is appropriate to extend or constrain the ability of
the Service justice authorities to pursue their investigations
on the public-military interface is very much a political matter.
Q284 Alex Cunningham: So would
you agree with the Federation that there are no grounds for concern?
Chief Constable Love: It is not
my job to interpret or comment on the Federation's views. The
Federation has presented its views to you, and I have presented
Mr Morrison: It might be helpful
if I comment on the discussions that led to these powers being
included. The provision for multiple search warrants and warrants
to search unspecified premises was only introduced in 2005 for
the civilian police forcesin fact it was at the end of
2005, when we were in Parliament with what became the 2006 Act.
We recognised then that this was a potentially controversial notion,
so we decided to wait and see how it worked.
The traditional idea of going to a magistrate
in the civilian world and getting a warrant to search a particular
identified premises was an ingrained part of criminal law. So
this was recognised as a change, and we have waited to see how
it developed and whether it caused problems. It is still an area
in which some form of judicial oversight is important, and, as
the brigadier has mentioned, there will be judicial-level supervision
of any application for one of these warrants. They should not
be used widely enough to allow numerous searches of one property
or the investigation of unidentified properties to give too much
control to the police.
So this did lead to some heart-searching. We
looked at how it was working in the civilian world and put in
place limitations that will ensure that in practice there is little
or no scope for excessive use of the provision.
Chair: It is now 12.47 pm, and, if it
is possible, I would like to finish before 1 o'clock.
Q285 Alex Cunningham: There is
no provision to give the Service police the power to enter premises
to search for excluded material. Any failure to comply with a
production order would instead be treated as a contempt of court.
Are you satisfied that will be a sufficient deterrent against
Brigadier Forster-Knight: Yes.
Q286 Alex Cunningham: Good. Would
you prefer to have the same powers of entry as Home Office Police?
Brigadier Forster-Knight: The
powers we seek are relevant to the Service context. In some ways
our jurisdiction is far greater than that of the civilian police.
We have universal jurisdiction over soldiers, wherever in the
world they are serving. That is, of course, wholly appropriate
given that we want to protect our soldiers and to ensure that
they are subject to the laws of England and Wales wherever they
are serving. The key is the Service context, and we seek powers
that are relevant to the Service context and nothing more.
Q287 Alex Cunningham: Finally,
will the powers under clause 8 that require the production of
excluded material by persons who might have no direct contact
with the Armed Forces, such as a banker or social services department,
be monitored or subject to any kind of reporting procedures?
Brigadier Forster-Knight: Yes.
Once the Bill is enacted, we intend to introduce some internal
policy detailing how these provisions and the multiple entry warrantsthe
clause 7 and clause 8 provisionsare used.
Chair: Thank you very much. I must say
that sort of thing more often.
Q288 Jack Lopresti: Will there
be any external scrutiny by the Judge Advocates of the decisions
to issue all premises and multiple entry warrants? What systems
are in place to deal with complaints both from Service personnel
and from civilians on the use of these powers related to warrants?
Mr Morrison: The answer to the
first question is yes. A Judge Advocate will be applied to to
grant the warrants. Like any search warrant, they will usually
be acted on fairly quickly. In the civilian and military worlds,
there is not time for people even to be told about themthey
may not be there, or there may be other good reasons not to tell
them. But if the power to give a search warrant or the way that
it is used is improper, it can be challenged at the trial. If
somebody is tried on the basis of evidence obtained improperly,
the evidence so obtained can be challenged and excluded, if that
is the decision of the court. That is the remedy that is available
in the civilian world, and it will be available in the Military
Q289 Chair: Okay. Final question:
is there anything not in the Bill that you would like to see in
Brigadier Forster-Knight: Not
at this stage.
Chair: So it is perfectthat is
Thank you very much indeed for your evidence
on an important issue. This is a part of the Bill that has not
yet received as much scrutiny and attention as the Military Covenant,
but nevertheless is very important. I am most grateful.