Select Committee on Armed Forces Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 640 - 659)

TUESDAY 30 JANUARY 2001

MR PAUL TRICKEY AND MR TOM CULLEN

  640. That would be on a higher pay scale?
  (Mr Cullen) If you are requested by the Home Office force mutually to assist them, obviously you do whatever task they ask you to do.

  641. Why did they feel they needed you to come in? Was it because of your expertise or purely manpower?
  (Mr Trickey) Lack of manpower.
  (Mr Cullen) Lack of manpower and also they know we are highly trained as well.

  642. You are on a par with them, as we have established.
  (Mr Trickey) To answer your question, yes it would, as far as we are led to believe, because it was a policy decision made by the force which the Federation does not have any say in. The general assumption is that it was through lack of manpower that they could not cope.

  643. That would come through from individual police forces or the Home Office?
  (Mr Trickey) That came direct from the Home Office. Other local ones would probably come from the area chief constable.

  644. The Home Office can ask the MoD Police to come in and help them out if they have not enough manpower?
  (Mr Trickey) In that, I think the government of the day considered it a national emergency, so yes, but generally speaking it would be left to the local chief constable if there was such a problem where he required assistance.

  645. If you were asked, there would be no way that the MDP could refuse?
  (Mr Trickey) If we had other operational exigencies, yes, we could refuse.

  646. You could say you did not have enough manpower?
  (Mr Cullen) Obviously you have to prioritise and your own commitments have to come first.
  (Mr Trickey) Generally speaking, I do not think there would be many incidents where we would actually refuse any assistance to another force.

  647. In your experience, have there been any other times in recent periods when your officers have been called upon in such a major way to help out the Home Office?
  (Mr Trickey) The recent refitting of one of the Trident submarines at Barrow, but that was a security matter which we are not privy to.

  648. That would be MoD property.
  (Mr Trickey) That was a Vickers yard but because we have a marine section and many of the Home Office constabularies do not have that expertise there was a request for us to provide boats from Coalport Faslane to protect the shore line and to protect the shore.

  649. I can see your expertise where you probably might even have the upper hand on escorting duties, because a large part of your duties would involve escorting sensitive convoys; but you were also potentially being called in for crowd control at a civilian location?
  (Mr Cullen) Yes.

  650. By the Home Office?
  (Mr Trickey) Yes, if they deemed it, as they did the petrol crisis, as a national emergency and I would imagine the Home Office have primacy to order us in as a civilian police force.

Chairman

  651. I do not know whether you are able to tell us but I do wonder whether, for instance, you were ever called upon during the 1984-85 miners' strikes?
  (Mr Trickey) I believe some of them were.
  (Mr Cullen) During that time the MoD had a major problem at Greenham Common so most of our resources were channelled in that direction.
  (Mr Trickey) There were a couple of PSUs who did go up there. We did lend mutual aid to them.

  652. That was presumably through the Home Office?
  (Mr Trickey) Yes, I would assume so, however I was not in office.

  653. You are going to give us some further written evidence. Perhaps you could clarify whether there have been other occasions where the government have considered it was a sufficient national emergency that they looked for the MoD Police force to assist them along with others.
  (Mr Trickey) I will research that. I will have to go through my force headquarters to do that.

Mr Clelland

  654. Are there any occasions to your knowledge where Armed Services personnel may be asked to don police uniforms and assist yourselves?
  (Mr Trickey) They would be acting totally unconstitutionally if they donned a police uniform.

  655. To your knowledge, has that ever been necessary?
  (Mr Trickey) Not to my knowledge.

Mr Randall

  656. If you were called upon, can you call the other way around if the boot is on the other foot? You can call upon the local police to help you?
  (Mr Trickey) Yes. The prime example, as Mr Cullen said earlier, was Greenham Common and Molesworth. They were both joint exercises. On one, we policed it for two years before anybody in our force came in on detached duties and we had to. Because of the ferocity of it, we had to go to Thames Valley and ask them for mutual aid.

  657. I appreciate Greenham Common is not relevant today but if for some reason there were huge demonstrations outside the MoD—say we had decided to bomb some friendly power and this was not too popular with the populace—you would be seriously stretched as a force, presumably. It is an unlikely scenario so I would not expect you to have the force but you might have a problem with that?
  (Mr Cullen) That would be a joint operation with the Metropolitan Police.

  658. How is recruitment and retention in the MoD Police?
  (Mr Trickey) In certain areas, we have the same difficulties as the Home Office forces do. We are running three courses this year for recruits of 20 each, as far as I am aware. We have no problem attracting recruits to the MoD, but we do have a problem like the Home Office in the Metropolitan Police area and also in the Thames Valley area to retain them because of the high cost of living and other factors.

  659. You have London Weighting, presumably?
  (Mr Trickey) Officers in London would have London Weighting. Many of the officers pre-1994 do not receive housing or renting allowance.


 
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