Examination of Witnesses (60-80)|
THURSDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2001
60. Where is the locked box? Is it in the car,
a saloon car, would it be in the car itself or would be in the
boot of the car?
(Mr Ray) It varies with the type of vehicle but invariably
it is in the boot but accessible from inside if it was needed
in an emergency. If it is purely transiting it can be in the boot
and it does not have to be accessible.
61. As you get more involved with investigations
into terrorism and incidents outside of the site under what circumstances
would you take the weapon out of the boot of the car? Would there
need to be permission?
(Mr Ray) They would not remove the weapon except for
self-arming as we describe it when they arm themselves without
prior authority and that has to be an extreme emergency where
they personally face danger justifying the use of firearms.
62. So where would that authority come from?
(Mr Ray) That comes from The Criminal Law Act. They
have got power to defend themselves.
63. So the individual could make that decision
within a car?
(Mr Ray) That they would do but they have to subsequently
immediately get retrospective authority if you like. They have
to inform their control. If you are facing someone shooting at
you, you cannot get on the radio and ask for permission. They
are by law allowed to draw a weapon and respond. That is an extremely
limited situation. It has never happened in fact.
64. My guess is that they would not be facing
someone shooting at them and then decide to go to the boot of
the car, unlock the boot of the car, unlock the box and retrieve
the weapon. Those would not be the circumstances, would they,
whereby they would be in the middle of an incident and then go
to the boot of the car? One would expect that they would anticipate
an incident before they took the weapon out of the boot of the
car. I wondered in what circumstances they would have a procedure
to deal with that in the light of these changing circumstances.
What about the question of relationships with other forces? That
is quite important, that they do not shoot other police officers
whilst doing their duties.
(Mr Crowther) I entirely agree with that.
(Mr Ray) We have already a joint patrol if you like
with another force. We tend to make a point of complying with
their conventions on the carriage of firearms. Most forces, even
when they have armed response vehicles (and we do not as a matter
of course), the weapons are kept in the box; they are not carried
on the officers themselves until they are asked to attend the
scene of an incident where they might be asked to use them. Then
specific authority is given by radio or telephone and, if time,
it is from a chief officer's authority. In an emergency it is
from a local inspector. There is a supervision over the issue
of such firearms. Then it is only when they are being deployed
to a situation where they might have to justify the use of firearms.
65. Do you expect any real changes in the deployment
as a result of your increasing powers and do you think that that
will require any increased training or any different thinking
about the use of firearms?
(Mr Ray) I am comfortable that the current level of
training and expertise is adequate in this force to deal with
the new situation. We have got a reputation for a very safe record
in the use and handling of firearms and a very responsible attitude.
We also have a very close relationship with local forces. When
I am describing movement of firearms there are two scenarios.
One is when we are simply moving firearms from one MoD establishment
to another and we need to move them. That is where they are separated
with the ammunition in one vehicle and the weapons in another
vehicle, so that even if one vehicle were stopped they could not
get to the ammunition. The only time when the weapons are in an
armed box ready for immediate deployment is if we have an approved,
by prior written agreement, armed patrol. These are extremely
rare and subject to written protocols with the local force by
prior agreement with the chief officer. We have to satisfy in
that protocol the means by which they are going to be carried,
the circumstances in which they would be used. The Home Office
forces with which we have those protocols are content that those
conditions meet their requirements.
66. There was a time in the 1980s when more
and more police officers in home department police forces had
access to firearms. They had to go to the local police station,
pick them up, sign them out, and go off to an emergency. Unfortunately,
in some cases the wrong people were shot and the police then appearedI
might be wrongto devolve responsibility for using guns
upon far more specialist officers who were less likely to shoot
somebody by accident than the normal police officer for whom the
gun was an add-on responsibility. All of your officers I presume
have firearms training. Do you have specialist teams, SWAT squad
teams, and how can you ensure as far as possible that the ordinary
MoD police officer is adequately trained so as to minimise the
risk in a crisis of accidentally shooting someone? What kind of
briefing do they have? Can you send us the documents? What do
you do by way of training, re-training, testing so that if people
do not reach a certain level they go back and do more training?
Perhaps you could drop us a note on that.
(Mr Ray) I could briefly outline the circumstances
now. The basic training is one week on the handgun. If they are
required by their duties to carry a rifle then it is a further
two weeks' training. Every three or four months, depending on
the type of establishment, they have to go for re-qualification
training. Once a year they do tactical training. That is the basis.
The basic training meets the need for the basic armed officer.
There is a range of skills and experience and training to meet
their operational requirement. The stand-off officer at the front
gate has a different level of skills and equipment from the armed
response personnel within secure establishments who are probably
trained to the highest level. Tactical Options 4 and 5 is the
description. They do far more regular training. The range of skills
has to be commensurate with the risk and the need. We do not train
everybody to the highest standards. Those who need tactical training
on a regular basis get it more regularly than just once a year.
67. Is this specialist group deployed around
the country? There is not much point having a specialist group
at Wethersfield if an incident takes place in the north east or
the north west.
(Mr Ray) In some places they are deployed within establishment
if there is cause for a particular need within that establishment
for that immediate response. In other cases there is a contingency
to provide a trained response if required.
68. What variety of weapons are you trained
(Mr Ray) Our basic MoD weapon is the Browning and
the rifle is the SA80. In some places we have the MP5 which is
a traditional police weapon.
69. So essentially three different types of
(Mr Ray) Yes.
70. And one and a half million loads and unloads
(Mr Ray) It is 1.4 million.
71. With no negligent discharges?
(Mr Ray) Yes.
Patrick Mercer: That is remarkable.
Chairman: We must get the Army to have
72. I was going to say, if the Army could achieve
that they would have extremely proud of themselves. And in training,
any negligent discharges?
(Mr Ray) No. We are very proud of our record and we
are very pleased that we have this very high level of responsible
Chairman: I detect a note of incredulity
in my colleague's question.
(Mr Ray) I can assure you that every negligent discharge
would be the subject of a disciplinary inquiry.
74. Can I have some clarification on firearms
and specifically on protocol? It is my understanding that in Scotland
at the moment that protocol insists that the local chief constable
can speak to the MDP before those arms are moved out of MoD property,
but that that is not the case in the protocol in England and Wales
at the moment. Can you clarify that because that is not what you
said a couple of minutes ago.
(Mr Ray) There is a difference in the wording of the
protocol in England and Wales and Scotland. I have got them here
but I am not exactly sure of the exact wording. I think the effect
could well be that the Scots forces require us to notify them
in advance. We tend to do that anyway as a matter of safety.
75. Yes, but being required to do it and tending
to do it are two different things. My understanding is that you
are required to do it in Scotland before they move, but the protocol
does not say that for England and Wales.
(Mr Ray) I think there are slight differences in the
two protocols agreed by the forces. That they would negotiate
and consult us on separately. Scots officers require slightly
76. We have the document.
(Mr Ray) I can give you a response on that and a copy
of the protocol.
77. If it is the case that the protocols are
different, I find it quite alarming that this is a specification
laid down in Scotland and yet for some reason it has been omitted
in England and Wales. If that has been omitted would this be one
of the issues that you would look at? From what you are saying
this is going to be looked at before the end of the month. Would
you then ensure that this is looked at and that it is as strong
in England and Wales as it is in Scotland?
(Mr Ray) The operational circumstances in Scotland
and in England and Wales are slightly different in some cases.
The legal situation is different. There are inevitably differences.
Policing is very much tailored to meet local demand. If Scotland
decided they needed it, and England and Wales decided they did
not for good operational reasons, I am sure that was fully taken
into account in the consultation process.
78. Surely if it is highly important that there
is discussion before the arms are moved in Scotland, the people
in England and Wales should expect that it is equally highly important
that it is discussed as well?
(Mr Ray) It has never been a problem in England and
Wales and we have had no difficulty with it, nor have we had a
difficulty in Scotland, I have to say. It may be just a different
perspective of how it is done.
79. Are you happy that there is a difference?
(Mr Ray) I am happy that there is a difference, yes,
because policing is about differences to meet the local needs.
80. This line of questioning is covered in paragraph
48 of volume 1 of the Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill.
Apparently the Scottish arrangements are more detailed but we
can make copies. Thank you very much for coming. It has been very
helpful. No doubt we will see you in due course. We would like
to have 11 copies of the report. Any additional information on
firearms would be welcome, and any invitation to come up to Wethersfield
so that we can look at some of the things we have been talking
(Mr Crowther) Guests are always welcome.