The Armed Forces Bill - Armed Forces Committee Contents


Written evidence from the Ministry of Defence

THE PROVISION OF SECURITY AT DEFENCE INSTALLATIONS AND BASES IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

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 AND GUARDING AGENCY: BASIC STRUCTURE AND ROLE

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 Act 1987].

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 officers.

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 POLICE FORCES ("SERVICE POLICE") AND THE MILITARY PROVOST GUARD SERVICE ("MPGS")

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 CIVIL AND MILITARY JURISDICTION IN THE UNITED KINGDOM

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 2006.

8 February 2011



 
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