Written evidence from the Ministry of
1. This memorandum addresses the division of
functions and responsibilities between different bodies in relation
to the policing and guarding of MoD installations and bases in
the United Kingdom.
2. MOD POLICE
2.1 This is an agency of the MoD. It comprises
the Ministry of Defence Police ("MDP") and the Ministry
of Defence Guard Service ("MGS"). They are both under
the control of the Chief Constable of the MDP. A key aspect of
both bodies is that they are civilian. The importance of this
is explained below in relation to their roles.
2.2 The use of the MDP is necessary where:
the policing and guarding role may bring them into
regular contact with civilians; and
in particular, where it may be necessary to use police
powers in relation to civilians.
The MDP are trained so as to be able to provide an
armed response in a civilian environment.
2.3 This reflects the fact that the MDP have
normal ("constabulary") police powers, exercisable in
relation to anyone within the United Kingdom. The Service police
forces have similar powers but, by contrast, their exercise of
those powers is essentially limited to members of the armed forces.
2.4 The Home Office Police Forces are limited
geographically in their areas of operation, whereas the MDP can
act anywhere in the United Kingdom on defence land and in relation
what may broadly be described as defence property and personnel
[footnote: section 2 of the Ministry of Defence Police
2.5 Accordingly, the MDP's main role can be described
as dealing throughout the United Kingdom with the main crime and
security risks faced by the MoD, which are:
terrorist attack and the threat of it;
disruption or harm caused by protestors;
unauthorised intrusion on the Defence Estate; and
major theft and fraud in the defence area.
They accordingly provide armed guarding especially
at what are broadly civilian sites, including MoD Main Building,
and defence nuclear sites. Their civilian powers also enable them
to provide community policing for civilians living on some bases
in the United Kingdom. The current complement is 3,600 police
2.6 The MGS (currently 4,000 staff) provide
unarmed security duties which do not require police powers, especially
at broadly civilian sites. Their duties include reception and
admissions, monitoring CCTV and internal patrolling. Where cost-effective
at particular sites, staff of private security companies are sometimes
used instead (currently about 400 commercial security staff).
3. THE SERVICE
3.1 The Service Police and the MPGS are composed
of members of the armed forces. Within the United Kingdom they
have no powers in relation to civilians. Each of the Services
has a force of Service Police, headed by a Provost Marshal. Both
the Service Police and the MPGS deploy on operations abroad (current
complements: Royal Military Police 1800, Royal Air Force Police
1300, Royal Navy Police 300).
3.2 The role of the Service Police is
essentially one of policing members of the armed forces. This
includes policing off-base, and in some cases this necessitates
joint policing with a civilian force. Their powers derive principally
from the Armed Forces Act 2006 and the application to them of
provisions of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984.
3.3 The MPGS is under the control of the
Provost Marshal (Army), who is also the head of the Royal Military
Police. They provide armed security, broadly speaking, on those
sites with less of a civilian presence. If they need to deal with
civilians, they may need support from the local Home Office police
or the MDP. The current complement of the MPGS is 2,900.
4. DIVISION BETWEEN
4.1 Both civilian and Service police forces have
jurisdiction over members of the armed forces in the United Kingdom.
The broad principle applied to the choice of jurisdiction is that
the Service Police will deal with offences with a purely service
context. The civilian police will deal with cases in which there
is a civilian context (eg the victim or co-accused are civilian).
In accordance with constitutional principle, the civilian authorities
have the ultimate power to decide the appropriate jurisdiction.
The restriction on Service jurisdiction (excluding from that jurisdiction
cases within the United Kingdom of murder, manslaughter, rape
and certain other offences) was repealed by the Armed Forces Act
8 February 2011