EXPERIENCE IN DEALING WITH THE GENERAL PUBLIC
50. Concern was expressed to the Select Committee
on the Armed Forces Bill, and has been repeated during consideration
in the House of the present Bill, that MDP officers may not have
had sufficient experience in dealing with the general public to
properly prepare them for taking on new powers which are likely
to increase this contact. The Armed Forces Bill Committee, while
acknowledging that the MDP did have contact with civilian residents
and employees on defence property, said in its Report
We accept that the training of MDP officers is of
a standard comparable to Home Department forces; however, theoretical
training on a course is one thing, learning 'on the job' is another.
Our concern centres on the range of experience of MDP officers,
particularly in dealing with the general public.
They wished to see monitoring of any adverse effects
arising from the MDP's increased public role, and appropriate
measures taken to provide additional training if this proved to
51. MDP witnesses confirmed to us that initial training
for their officers is the same as for local police forces. They
acknowledged that the experience of an MDP officer is different,
but pointed to: the increased contractualisation of the defence
environment, which means there are more civilians employed on
the defence estate; the policing by the MDP of public events such
as the Farnborough Air Show; and their coverage of garrison areas
such as Salisbury Plain and Catterick; to demonstrate the contact
which the force has with non-Service personnel.
Since the sale of the married quarters estate, houses within the
estate are owned by civilian as well as Service families. This
means that MDP officers policing the estate already frequently
deal with incidents involving civilian families, and local police
forces are usually happy for MDP officers to take the lead in
The Minister told the House that the MDP's 'primary role' is in
dealing with 'civilians, dependants, contractors, trades people
and visitors to our sites.
The MDP reports that the introduction of Area Policing Teams and
Unit Beat Officers has increased the force's contact with members
of the wider public but that this has not led to an increase in
the number of complaints.
52. The Assistant Chief Constable believed the fact
that MDP officers had been deployed in Kosovo, in support of the
UN International Police Force, after only three weeks' additional
training, demonstrated their ability to cope with even the most
challenging policing duties.
Local police forces are keen to recruit MDP officers, who are
then deployed with little further training: 31 officers left the
MDP for local forces in 2000.
ACPO's representative told us that he had no evidence to suggest
that MDP officers were not capable of dealing with the public
in sensitive circumstances, and he believed that his colleagues'
confidence in the MDP was demonstrated by their current involvement
in joint policing activities.
53. The Assistant Chief Constable of the MDP informed
us that additional training would be provided to MDP officers
on the likely effects of the Bill's provisions; and that policy
guidelines and procedures and training and awareness packages
are in the process of being developed.
We welcome this and expect the MDP Chief Constable to ensure
that appropriate additional training is provided to his officers
if it becomes apparent that this is necessary.
154-I, Session 2000-01, op cit, paragraphs 51-52 Back
Deb, 26 November 2001, c 778 Back
609, Session 1999-2000, op cit, p 10 Back
20; see also HC Deb, 26 November 2001, cc 778-9; and 18 April
2000, c 429w Back