Memorandum submitted by Ministry of Defence
1. This memorandum is submitted by the Ministry
of Defence Police (MDP), the MoD's own dedicated civilian police
2. Under the 1987 Ministry of Defence Police
Act, MDP officers have the powers of a police constable, but-broadly
speakingonly on defence land or in respect of the actions
of defence personnel. In addition they had constabulary powers
when requested to act by an officer from a Home Department Police
Force (HDPF) "in the vicinity" of defence land. The
problem was that these powers left MDP officers unable to act
in an emergency if confronted by serious criminal acts off defence
land, and failed to define the term "in the vicinity".
Nor did they have powers to deal with offences against defence
personnel off defence land.
3. To remedy these areas of confusion, and
following lengthy Home Office consultation, proposals were developed
for inclusion in the Quinquennial Armed Forces Bill 2001. However
the General Election resulted in some parts of the Armed Forces
Bill including the MDP sections being dropped to enable the legislation
to go through before the end of that Parliament. After the Election,
an alternative legislative vehicle was sought. The enhanced terrorist
threat post September 11th increased the need to close gaps and
remove uncertainty in MDP jurisdiction if the force were to contribute
effectively in the fight against terrorism. The Anti-Terrorism,
Crime and Security (ATCS) Bill was seen as appropriate legislation
through which to do this.
4. The ATCS provisions cover broadly the
same areas as those included in the Armed Forces Bill with the
inclusion of some additional powers directly related to the terrorist
threat. It is Part 10 (Police Powers) of the ATCS Act 2001 that
provides MDP Officers, and British Transport Police, with additional
5. Sections 98-101 provide five principal changes
to the jurisdiction of MDP. They are:
Requests for MDP officers to assist
an officer from another police force.
Mutual Aid to other police forces.
Defence personnel as victims.
Authorisations under the Terrorism
6. In general, Section 98 extends MDP jurisdiction
to non-defence land when requested by a local HDPF officer (or
British Transport Police or UK Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary)
to assist in relation to an incident, investigation or operation.
It means MDP Officers have the same powers and privileges as constables
of HDPF at these times. MDP jurisdiction is also extended in emergency
situations, where an officer suspects on reasonable grounds a
person of committing, being in the course of committing or about
to commit an offence or in order to save life or prevent or minimise
personal injury. This can only be done where officers are in uniform,
or can produce documentary evidence confirming that they are members
of the MDP, and where it is reasonably believed that delay in
securing the attendance of a HDPF officer would frustrate or seriously
prejudice the reason for exercising the power.
7. Section 99 allows the Chief Constable
of the MDP to provide assistance to other police forces, through
Mutual Aid, at the request of the respective chief officer. In
such circumstances members of the MDP are under the direction
and control of the chief officer of the requesting force and have
the same powers and privileges as a member of that force.
8. Section 98 extends the jurisdiction of
MDP officers enabling them to act when Defence personnel are victims
of crime. Prior to the ATCS Act 2001 the MoD Police Act 1987 restricted
jurisdiction to offences committed by Defence personnel.
9. Section 101 refers to Schedule 7 and
allows MDP ACPO officers to grant authorisations under the Terrorism
Act 2000, ie powers to stop & search on MoD land. It also
allows MDP Superintendents and above the power to designate a
cordoned area in connection with a terrorist investigation either
on defence land or when acting "on request".
10. It is important to note that the ATCS
Act 2001 repeals the powers in the MoD Police Act 1987 enabling
the force to assist Home Department Forces in defined circumstances.
Therefore, without the Act of 2001, MDP would be unable to exercise
police powers in support of other police, either in terrorist
or non-terrorist situations.
ATCS ACT 2001 POWERS
11. When officers use ATCS Act 2001 powers,
each incident is reported. Monthly statistics are collated and
monitored by the Chief Constable of the MDP. The use of the new
legislation is also reported to the MDP Police Committee and the
Home Office. On average, MDP provide assistance to HDPFs approximately
130 times per month using constabulary powers on approximately
one third of these occasions.
12. Many reported incidents are initially
suspected of being terrorist related but on further investigation
turn out not to be so. MDP officers have also responded to many
incidents involving suspect vehicles and packages that were initially
thought to be terrorist/security related but which have been resolved
13. The enhancements to MDP jurisdiction
through the ATCS Act 2001 has enabled MDP officers to work more
closely with other police forces. While working relationships
with HDPF forces have always been very good, the extended jurisdiction
has allowed MDP officers to participate proactively with them,
particularly in respect of anti-terrorist operations. For example,
joint North Yorkshire Police/MDP armed mobile patrols are conducted
around sensitive sites including RAF Menwith Hill and RAF Fylingdales.
MDP officers also assist Suffolk Police with patrols and roadblocks
around the US base at RAF Lakenheath.
14. The Terrorism Act 2000powers
to stop and search and the powers to cordon areas in connection
with a terrorist investigation, granted in Schedule 7 of the ATCS
Act 2001, have only been used in conjunction with authorisations
granted by HDPFs. These incidents are statistically reported by
the respective HDPF. An authorisation to stop and search means
that any MDP officer in uniform may stop a vehicle or pedestrian
in an area or at a place specified in the authorisation and he/she
may search the vehicle, occupants or pedestrian in an area, or
at a place specified in the authorisation and he/she may search
the pedestrian as well as anything carried by the individual.
The stop and search powers enacted under Terrorism legislation
must only be used for the purpose of searching for articles of
a kind which could be used in connection with terrorism, and may
be exercised whether or not the constable has any grounds for
suspecting the presence of articles of that kind. Where a constable
proposes, he or she may detain the person for such time as is
reasonably required to permit the search to be carried out, at
or near the place where the person is stopped.
15. The MDP's use of the powers granted
under the ATCS Act 2001 has been proportionate to the terrorist
threat and has allowed MDP officers to work with, and respond
to, requests from HDPFs in the wider policing and security environment.
The powers have given MDP the ability to contribute in the fight
against the terrorist threat through proactive security policing
outside the immediate confines of the defence estate, and indeed,
to deal with other crimes in particular circumstances. In the
event of incidents involving possible injury to persons, and other
potentially violent situations, MDP officers can now intervene
with the knowledge that they have the full legal protection afforded
to a constable.
16. We are aware of not a single case where
Home Department police have taken issue with MDP's use of its
new powers, and HDPF chief officers have welcomed the additional
policing support that MDP is now able to provide. The joint working
between forces is governed by Policing Protocols for England and
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively, which have
been established and agreed with chief officers since the Act
came into force. On the ground they are interpreted in a common-sense
way, with the lead being taken by the Force that can make the
quickest and most effective response. They will be revised in
the near future to reflect the emphasis in the MDP's recent Quinquennial
Review on the need for the Force to concentrate on "primary"
crimethat is those risks of crime and disorder, which face