Written evidence from the Defence Police
1. The Defence Police Federation (DPF) is keen to
present this written submission to the Members of the Armed Forces
Bill Committee and would of course be happy to provide further
oral evidence should this be helpful.
2. The Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) is the MoD's
own dedicated civil Police Force of around 3,600 officers-all
with constabulary powers - and some 300 civilian staff. It operates
in five geographic Divisions, serving nearly 100 MoD establishments
and units throughout the United Kingdom and is headquartered in
Wethersfield in Essex. It also takes part in a number of overseas
commitments, notably in Afghanistan, Georgia and Kosovo.
3. The MDP is a unique and specialised national civilian
police service, not to be confused with the Royal Military Police.
It is focused on the defence community, providing it with the
same service as any of Britain's local police forces, as well
as armed and unarmed security at key defence sites and the protection
of Britain's nuclear deterrent and Critical National Infrastructure.
4. The Defence Police Federation (DPF) is the
staff association of the Ministry of Defence Police. It was founded
in 1971 after the amalgamation of representative of the police
forces for each branch of the Armed Forces, from which the Ministry
of Defence police was formed.
5. This short briefing note sets out our views on
the most relevant clauses of the Armed Forces Bill. We hope that
you will find this information useful in informing your examination
of the Bill.
CLAUSE 2: ARMED
6. The DPF welcomes the provision for the Secretary
of State for Defence to present an Armed Forces Covenant report
to Parliament every year, which will provide information on the
welfare of Armed Forces personnel, veterans and their dependents.
7. The Defence Community Police Officer and Divisional
Support Groups, along with the Home Front initiative, serve to
support the unwritten covenant between the state and the armed
forces. MDP officers play an important role in helping the UK
provide the long term duty of care to its service members. The
general policing duties carried out by the MDP serve to bolster
the foundation of the covenant. Any reduction or alteration in
the role of the MDP will therefore have a direct impact on the
8. For example, domestic unrest and concern about
the safety and wellbeing of family members is a major contributor
to service personnel being drawn back from theatre. Evidence suggests
that the mere presence of the MDP in married quarters and other
locations serves to increase the confidence of service personnel
as to the safety of their families.
9. Colchester Garrison is a clear example of the
MDP's important role in this. After its closure, the Garrison
police station was replaced by two unit beat officers working
in conjunction with the local Home Office force. Although this
is an incredibly proactive and capable unit, two officers cannot
possibly replace the confidence and the work that was carried
out by the Garrison Ministry of Defence Police station.
CLAUSE 3: PROVOST
INVESTIGATIONS / CLAUSE
5: PROVOST MARSHALS:
10. The DPF welcomes these clauses which are designed
to ensure the effectiveness and independence of the Service police.
However, we are concerned that any attempt by the Provosts Marshalls'
departments to become more like a civilian police service, could
undermine the Ministry of Defence's own police force, the MDP.
11. Where there is a necessity to investigate offences
which cross over into the civilian arena, the MDP should be the
force of choice for the MoD. The role of the MDP should therefore
not be replicated through the Service Police.
CLAUSE 4: INSPECTION
12. This clause specifies that the independence and
effectiveness of Service Police investigations should be subject
to inspection by Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary (who
are already able to inspect and report on Home Office police forces).
This is something which already occurs for the Royal Military
Police, but to date these provisions have not been widened to
cover the RAF or the Navy provost. As with the above clauses,
this appears to be an attempt to bring the Service police closer
towards the police services of the civilian side of UK law enforcement
and duplication with MDP powers should be avoided.
CLAUSE 6: MINISTRY
13. The purpose of this clause is to bring performance
guidelines for the MDP into line with those for Home Office Police
Forces under the Police Act 1996. This will allow for poor
performance or attendance within the MDP to be dealt with in much
the same way as Home Office police officers. MDP officers will
no longer be dealt with under the MoD's restoring efficiency procedures.
14. The DPF supports this position as it brings
the MDP in line with our colleagues in the Home Office forces
and also takes full consideration of the recommendations from
the 2005 Taylor Review of Police Disciplinary Arrangements.
In 2009, the MDP took on the conduct regulations which were included
in the Taylor Review, but were unable to take on the performance
regulations in at the same time; this clause is designed to rectify
CLAUSE 7: POWER
/ CLAUSE 8: POWER
15. The DPF has concerns about these clauses which
are intended to expand the power of the Service police to apply
for search warrants and to allow judge advocates to make production
orders for any material held on civilian or service premises,
in the course of an investigation by the Service Police.
16. Clause 7 & 8 seek to bring the Judge Advocates
into line with the Magistrates Courts and Crown courts. The DPF
would therefore ask that the Bill Committee seeks assurances that
the Judge Advocates will come under the scrutiny of the HM Court
Service in relation to issues such as complaints.
17. We welcome the proposed introduction of inspections
by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HIMC). However,
if the service police are to operate in a public arena then they
should also be under the scrutiny of Association of Chief Police
Offices (ACPO) and the Independent Police Complaints Commission
(IPCC). HIMC only has the ability to scrutinise the processes
followed, and check that procedure has been complied with. In
contrast, ACPO and the IPCC have more powers to examine the conduct
of individual police officers, including whether they acted proportionately
and with due politeness during searches.
18. If a member of the public wishes to make a complaint
against a member of the provost service, then there needs to be
a clear route for them to do so.
CLAUSE 9: UNFITNESS
/ CLAUSE 10: EXCEEDING
DUTIES / CLAUSE
11: TESTING FOR
19. The DPF fully supports these clauses to introduce
a bespoke military scheme for drugs and alcohols and associated
testing. This is a system which is already in existence within
the military and also within the police service in relation to
safety critical roles.
CLAUSE 24: BYELAWS
20. This clause proposes to remove the requirement
for consent from the Board of Trade if the Secretary of State
wishes to make bylaws for military purposes which may adversely
affect any public right of navigation, anchoring, grounding, fishing,
bathing, walking, or recreation.
21. There is no requirement for the Secretary of
State to consult with the MDP when making such byelaws. Given
that MDP officers will be responsible for enforcing the bylaws,
it would make sense for the MDP to be consulted in an advisory
capacity when the laws are being drawn up.
2 February 2011