Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 200 - 219)



  200. In other words, centrally you categorise all the defence establishments, and different security criteria apply to each of those categories, and you expect the service responsible for that site to provide a level of security which that category which you have determined centrally demands?
  (Ms Craig) We define the category, we do not actually go out ourselves and categorise them, that is left to the TLBs to decide whether they fit into that category or not. Normally it is fairly obvious actually.

  201. So it is up to the individual service to decide into which category each of its own establishments falls?
  (Ms Craig) That is right.

  202. Can I ask you a particular question which arises from this very helpful brief you sent us. In respect of Aldermaston and nuclear establishments, at paragraph 29 of your submission to us, you said, ". . . the security of MOD nuclear installations is at a permanently high level, based on a postulated threat of armed terrorist attack with possible insider assistance, and the security measures taken are based on treaty obligations with the United States of America." That was complete news to me and I would be grateful if you could explain why there are treaty obligations with the United States on establishments presumably like Aldermaston. Perhaps you can also shed some light on what those treaty obligations require and whether they are substantially different from the arrangements we would apply in the absence of such treaty obligations.
  (Ms Craig) The reason we define a postulated threat is for two reasons. One is so we are quite clear what the criteria are for providing physical security. The other is so there should be common criteria for security of the nuclear materials wherever they are based, whether in this country or abroad. I think that is the reason we have these common criteria set down.
  (Mr Cochrane) I have not got at hand the specifics of the treaty but essentially the bottom line of it is that we are required to give equivalent protection to nuclear materials associated with our deterrent as the Americans provide to theirs under the terms of the treaty.

  203. Under the terms of what treaty?
  (Mr Cochrane) It is the 1958 UK-US Mutual Defence Agreement. We share nuclear design information so we agree security standards. That is the agreement in question. I suppose, correctly speaking, it should be described as an agreement rather than a treaty. From the security point of view, we have to provide equivalent security to that provided by the Americans. Because of the criticality of nuclear weapons and everything that goes with them, unlike other aspects of security, the measures taken do not flux as intelligence raises and lowers the threat, instead we have an agreed postulated threat which is essentially, as it happens, the same as the postulated threat which applies in the United States. Therefore, in this area, unlike other aspects of security, the detail on the numbers of guards required and the response force required in the event of an incident are mandatory and there is not a great deal of scope for risk management of the sort that we were discussing in the open session. So it is a different approach, a more stringent approach, which means that the measures permanently in place are, generally speaking, already at a higher level than those which apply at the standard alert state which other establishments will be at.

  204. What you are saying, in essence, is that as a result of this agreement obligation we will have a higher standard of security level than, perhaps, we might otherwise have?
  (Mr Cochrane) I could not say whether it would be "otherwise have", it is a deliberate decision to maintain the security of those establishments at a high level, yes.

  205. Have those stringent measures changed since 11 September, in the sense that the United States and its view of the threat, have they been in contact with us and said, "we would like you to increase the level of security", notwithstanding that it is at a permanently high level, but September 11 really changed everything anyway?
  (Mr Cochrane) What it would take is a change to the postulated threat. The Americans have not come to us and said they have changed their postulated threat. We have, on our side, raised with them the question of whether we should now review the postulated threat but we have not received an answer yet.

  206. Can I move on the question of key point defence, which was a concept which applied during the Cold War. Can you tell us which sites have been designated as key points? What is the rationale for determining whether a site requires such a classification?[7]

  (Ms Craig) Chairman, key points are not part of my responsibility. I think if you want to go into this in great detail it would be better to wait until 13 February. What I can say is at the moment there are over 160 sites designated.

  207. 160
  (Ms Craig) Over 160 bythe MoD. That is being reviewed at the moment and I think the number is likely to come down substantially.

  208. What are the characteristics of a site which might fall at the margin as to whether it might be a key point, or fall outside a key point?
  (Ms Craig) There are criteria. What happens is that the sponsoring MoD department has to justify the inclusion of a site on the list to a Committee chaired by the Director of Military Operations, it is the DMO who decides, together with the Cabinet Office, whether a site is listed as a key point or not.

  209. You have retained the concept of key point defence.
  (Ms Craig) It is still there, yes.

  210. There are no plans to give it up?
  (Ms Craig) Not as far as I know.


  211. Are all of these key points within the MoD or do you have to get involved with sites that are not Ministry of Defence or Armed Forces?
  (Ms Craig) There are economic key points that are not Ministry of Defence sites, but we would not have direct responsibility for them, they are the responsibility of the site manager and the police. The Ministry of Defence could go to their aid if requested under the MACA arrangements. They are not directly my responsibility.

  212. We have a situation where there are organisations, buildings and designated key points that would not have an armed presence?
  (Ms Craig) Yes.

  213. Is that satisfactory?
  (Ms Craig) It is not for me to judge, I do not take the decision.

  214. You are really too polite!
  (Ms Craig) They are not my responsibility.

Mr Hancock

  215. I would like to go back to the bit we started to touch on, it is the same as this, where you guard and where you do not, the security of service personnel. Up until fairly recently there were armed guards at the hospital at Haslar, for example, where there are both civilian and service patients being treated and there are a substantial number of personnel working, and there is also a hospital in your area, which is a civilian hospital, with a small detachment of service personnel present, would it be your intention for the MoD police still to have an armed presence there? The second point relates to the safety of sites that have gone out of MoD control through various floating off? I draw your attention to the site at Haslar which is carrying out experiments on animals, which does not present a threat in the new sense but is very much an animals rights terrorist threat and whether or not there is going to be an armed presence continued on a site like the site at Haslar, where they carry out experimentation, particularly on goats, which has become nationally controversial, for very good reasons, which makes the people working there vulnerable to attack?
  (Mr Cochrane) If I can come back, not on the specifics of the Haslar site, but on these places that were formerly MoD medical establishments which, to some extent, have been privatised or where there is a military element or a capacity to look after service personnel on what is now a civilian hospital.

  216. What about the nature of the work, would it put the people who work there at risk?
  (Mr Cochrane) The example that you took, if we had our people there and we felt that there was a threat to life as opposed to just a public order threat from, let us say, animal rights extremists, or whatever, if we felt people's lives were in danger then, yes, again we would be looking at an armed presence.

  217. It goes back to Kevan's point, either we were overprotective in the past or we are not protecting them properly now? I cannot see how one day you have an armed guard there because there is a perceived threat and the next day, when nothing has changed, the armed guard is taken off.
  (Mr Cochrane) If we are talking about those DERA sites, it is not for me to say whether we were overprotected. The owner of the site, as the customer, determined his requirement for the security of that site. The only option for delivering that security was MDP in that situation really, because of the policing requirement. There was the option of arming them, therefore I would imagine it made good sense to the owner of the site to say, well not only am I going to have MDP there in a policing task but I am going to meet my requirement to have an armed response capability by arming some of those MDP and effectively having them in an armed guarding role.

Mr Jones

  218. The answer to the question is obviously yes. To follow up on that, if you need an armed response now you said on some occasions it is going to be picked up by the local civilian police, where does the cost lie? Are the local civilian police apportioned money for that in their budget to protect what is now a commercial site rather than an MoD site?
  (Mr Clarke) The reality is that two things have changed, having seen precedence at other sites, the RO sites and the wisdom of that decision, that decision was made and it is following that precedent two things then changed, one is the security plan with the company and with the local police service. The local police force, each individual chief constable at these sites, has to say, "I am prepared" and "I can provide an armed response from my armed response vehicles in the force". Over the last 10 years, as you may be aware, armed response vehicles have become the norm in every provincial police force and, therefore, those forces have to be able to respond to these locations in a given time. If the chief constable were to say, "I cannot do that, I do not have the resources to be able to do that", I think it would be a different scenario. As it stands at the moment the chief constables are saying, "We can add to that security plan". There has been no transfer of money and the costs will be where they fall to the home department force within their resources.

  219. The local taxpayers, for example, in Durham if we had a site, would be picking up the bill for private company security?
  (Mr Clarke) The reality is there is not an additional bill because the armed response will be provided from existing resources.

7   See Appendix 1 p 62. Back

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