Examination of Witness (Questions 560
TUESDAY 30 JANUARY 2001
560. Even though the chief constable of your
police force has primacy inside the wire as well as outside?
(Mr McKerracher) I think we have to be careful when
talking about searching vehicles. You are aligning a criminal
search of a vehicle with one for security reasons. A security
guard could search a vehicle going into Faslane, and you, as a
contractor, would submit to that through the contract that you
agreed with the Ministry of Defence, so you would have your vehicle
searched. That is not the same as a police officer searching for
evidence in terms of a crime. You have to be aware of the distinction
there. It may be that the contract allows Ministry of Defence
police or a security guard at the gate, with Ministry of Defence
police present, to search a vehicle entering the base. It is certainly
not a police officer from my force that would search that vehicle.
There would be no reason. We do not have the power to search such
a vehicle, but in terms of the security of the base there may
well be a power that would allow security guards to search.
561. I find it very surprising that you do not
have the power to search.
(Mr McKerracher) For what reason would we search,
unless we suspected a crime had taken place, or was going to take
place, or there was reasonable suspicion?
562. If Ministry of Defence property has been
stolen, if it has been established that some piece of equipment
has been stolen at Faslane or anywhere elsea tin of baked
beans in Kosovothe principle is important. Then it is a
matter of saying who has primacy.
(Mr McKerracher) You have now described a crime to
me, the theft of Ministry of Defence property, so, yes, we have
the ability because of reasonable suspicion to stop a vehicle
and to search for stolen property or we could get a search warrant.
I am saying that with the traffic in and out an establishment
like Faslane, there would be a general security search that would
go on that could be carried out by a private security firm that
could be standing at the gate. In that situation it is not a civil
police search. It may well be Ministry of Defence police in terms
of the security of the base, but not in relation to the crime
of theft or any other crime.
Mr Key: I think I shall return to this
563. Are military personnel on guard at the
gates at Faslane? If so, you could have interaction between armed
military personnel, Ministry of Defence police, the civilian police
and private security firms.
(Mr McKerracher) I am not sure what the situation
is at the gate at Faslane on a daily basis, other than that we
do not have a regular police presence at that gate. The police
presence at the entrance gate is, I believe, Ministry of Defence
police. Whether there are Navy personnel there or not I am not
sure. I am not even sure whether there is a private security firm
there. I am trying to draw a line between vehicles entering and
leaving Faslane. They would not be subject to a police search,
but they may be subject to a search in terms of the security of
the establishment. But it is certainly not a civilian police search.
564. In relation to that, do you liaise with
military personnel or armed military personnel guarding the base
when you have notice of a demonstration?
(Mr McKerracher) We liaise with the Navy, the Ministry
of Defence police and our own L division and they would all come
together. I would have a meeting with them. A fortnight before
any demonstration we would sit down and discuss our strategy for
such a demonstration.
565. I am aware that there was an incident recently
at Faslane of civilians being accused of theft. There was also
an incident at Rosyth that involved the illegal sale of drugs
and cigarettes and Customs & Excise were involved, and I assume
that the civilian police and the MoD police were involved as well.
I do not know whether that matter is still sub judice,
but it would be interesting to know what the inter-relationship
or the planning was in regard to the involvement of the different
(Mr McKerracher) I have no knowledge of the particular
cases that you describe. However, we work closely with Customs
& Excise and the Ministry of Defence police in all sorts of
situations. That is the way in which we have to operate. We have
to work with all the relevant bodies to ensure that we keep on
top of crime and safety in our communities.
566. In the past we have been told that the
relationship with the military police is based on partnership,
discussion and agreement and that the final decision on any investigation
is that of the chief constable in the civilian force. The agreement
on where an investigation should go is based on discussion between
the civil and the military police forces, and the military police
are used, when it is deemed appropriate, in the most effective
way of investigating a crime. Are the procedures that I have outlined
(Mr McKerracher) Are we talking about crimes committed
within a Ministry of Defence establishment or outwith one?
567. Yes, inside a Ministry of Defence establishment.
(Mr McKerracher) I think what you describe is fair.
Chairman: Mr Watts, are you referring
to military police or to Ministry of Defence police?
Mr Watts: I was referring to both, Chairman.
As I understand it, the primacy on all these issues is with the
chief constable. He makes the decision as to whether he or his
force investigates those matters or whether some other force investigates
them. It is done by agreement after discussion as to what crime
has taken place and what is the appropriate line of investigation.
Chairman: That is perhaps something at
which we need to look. I am not sure about this when it is something
that concerns Armed Forces personnel and a commanding officer
is dealing with it. That is something on which we need to be clear.
Mr Watts: Chairman, I was talking of
the Protocol and about things being agreed. I think there is a
protocol that something would be investigated by the military,
but only through agreement. If it did happen, it would be done
by agreement. That is what I understood the position to be.
568. I shall look at that further. Is there
any final point that you wish to make, Mr McKerracher?
(Mr McKerracher) No, thank you. I am happy with everything
that I have said.
569. Thank you very much for giving us so much
of your time and for dealing so effectively with the various points
and questions that have been raised with you. I can safely say
on behalf of the Committee that we would like to express publicly
our appreciation to the Association of Chief Police Officers in
Scotland for the work that they and serving officers conduct on
behalf of the public every single day.
(Mr McKerracher) Thank you very much.