Select Committee on Armed Forces Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 160 - 166)




  160. Can we move on then to Clause 16?
  (Mr Miller) Clause 16 has a total of eight sub-sections, seven of which define the various phrases and words used in Part II of the Bill. Sub-section 7 is designed to avoid doubt about the effect of Clauses 2 to 15, which are earlier in the Bill. Those clauses are intended to limit or replace some of the commanding officer's powers to investigate offences. They are not intended to affect the rights of either Service police or commanding officers to enter or search places under Service control, other than living accommodation, nor, indeed, to search Service vehicles which are not being driven. Those powers will continue and this clause is intended to make it clear. It also makes it clear that Part II does not limit a commanding officer's powers to stop and search a Service person or Service vehicles or to enter and search Service Living Accommodation for reasons unconnected with the investigation of the offence. There would still be a power to enter and search. A commanding officer could conduct a health and safety search without a warrant, that is not affected by this.

Mr Key

  161. Thank you. Please could you explain why the definition of United Kingdom Police Force on page 14, line 25 does not include British Transport Police, Atomic Energy Authority Police and the Royal Parks Police?
  (Mr Morrison) This is a definition for the purposes of Part II. There are other definitions of police force which bring in the Atomic Energy Constabulary for other parts of the Bill. This relates to the circumstances in which the CO is able to use his reserve power. It relates to Clause 7, for example, where the CO has a power to authorise the entry and search of relevant Service premises in an emergency without a Service policeman being available or where a Service policeman or United Kingdom police officer is not available. This is to say when the CO has to look around to make sure, if you like, that there is no alternative way of acting. There is no policeman who can exercise the necessary powers. He only has to have regard as to whether there is somebody available from these listed forces. We did not think it necessary to require the commanding officer to have regard to the possibility of the United Kingdom AEA Constabulary being available. It is all part of avoiding a CO acting in an emergency from being too burdened in deciding whether he can act or not.

Mr Randall

  162. Mr Morrison, for the sake of putting three more lines in, being belt and braces, you would be a bit stuck if that happened to be the only outcome. I agree it may not be the most likely outcome. Is there a specific reason, are you trying to save paper or something?
  (Mr Morrison) He can act. The relevant clause gives him power to act in an emergency. He cannot act if there is a person from the relevant police force who could be available. It seemed reasonable to limit it to the main police forces who might reasonably be called upon.

  Mr Randall: I am sure they would take exception to that.

Mr Key

  163. British Transport Police could be of great benefit with large numbers of servicemen and women travelling by train. I can think of circumstances where certainly the Atomic Energy Police are travelling with Army convoys and Navy convoys.
  (Mr Morrison) This is about the search of military premises. I think to add to the answer I gave, I am fairly sure with the British Transport Police, and AEAC they were excluded simply because they would not have any powers to act on military premises.

  164. A jurisdiction problem.
  (Mr Morrison) As far as the Royal Parks Police are concerned, it is conceivable they have general jurisdiction. I do not know if they have jurisdiction to act outside the Royal Parks. It is fairly unlikely—except in Wellington Barracks, and in those circumstances, to be honest, we do not envisage an emergency where a CO would be able to act without a Service policeman.

Mr Randall

  165. Would they be contained in section B, or any police force in section two?
  (Mr Morrison) No, that is outside London, that is the Home Departments.

  166. Okay.
  (Mr Morrison) You would have the Met available to take into account before he could exercise his power.

  Chairman: Thank you. Can I then, with the Committee's agreement, adjourn our proceedings at this point and we will reconvene to hear further presentations and evidence next Tuesday at 10.30 am. Perhaps the Committee can reconvene at 10.15 am to consider one or two points. Can I thank you very much, indeed. Thank you and all your colleagues and members of Service personnel for coming along this morning and certainly giving many of us a much clearer insight into some of the particular issues and difficulties we need to address to the benefit of our Armed Forces personnel. Thank you very much. I am looking forward to seeing you next Tuesday.

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