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Parliamentary Monitoring w/c 20 May

Published: 24/05/2013

The Houses of Parliament rose this week for Whitsun recess. The House of Commons will not return until June 3rd and the House of Lords until June 4th.

The Daily Mail has reported that 5,000 retired police officers receive both a pension and a salary. A survey of police forces has found that around 6% of civilian jobs were taken up by retired officers, meaning around 5,000 personnel in these posts are retired officers who have been re-employed by their old force. As police officers can retire after 30 years’ service, many are still in their 50s when they reach retirement, however, despite the final-salary pension arrangements, many decide to remain in work, including returning to their old forces.

In other news, the Financial Times has learnt that the Metropolitan Police is considering one of the biggest police outsourcing plans in an attempt to save £500m of its £3.6bn budget. London’s police force is in talks with private sector providers eager to secure contracts which total up to more than £800m. The list of services up for outsourcing includes a number of back-office functions, such as human resources, finance capabilities and other roles such as impounding vehicles.


Contents

  • MDP removed from Woolwich in 2008 “would have rushed to the scene” of incident
  • COBRA meets to assess security situation after Woolwich attack
  • Answers to written questions on MDP pensions and MDP abuse investigations
  • Army launches recruitment drive for 10,000 new soldiers
  • Police officers to declare friendships with journalists


MDP removed from Woolwich in 2008 “would have rushed to the scene” of incident

The Times has reported that officers of the MDP were removed five years ago from the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, close to where Drummer Lee Rigby was murdered this week. The report suggested that, had MDP officers been present at their former posting, they “could and would have rushed to the scene”. An MDP spokesman told the Times that MOD Police can “respond to an emergency, a threat-to-life situation, off MOD land”. Currently, Woolwich barracks is protected by a combination of soldiers and the military guard service, however, it was revealed in the article by a military source that, unlike the MDP, had these personnel intervened outside military premises by shooting the attackers, there is a strong chance they would have faced prosecution.

Questions were raised this week after some eye witnesses to the incident commented that they felt that the response from the Metropolitan Police was slow. Scotland Yard said that unarmed police were on the scene within nine minutes of the first 999 call and armed police five minutes later, ten minutes after being assigned to the incident. Eyewitnesses said that the armed units attempted to use Taser guns; however, the attackers rushed at the officers and were subsequently shot.


COBRA meets to assess security situation after Woolwich attack

The Mirror has reported that following Wednesday’s attack on Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich, security has been tightened at all London army barracks. The Home Secretary, Theresa May, ordered the measures on Wednesday night after being briefed at a COBRA meeting, the Government’s emergency security committee. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has said that the security of British troops would be reviewed in the wake of the attack.

Also in attendance were the London Mayor Boris Johnson, Met Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe and the intelligence agencies who are believed to be reviewing the national threat level which currently stands at “substantial” and is the third highest rating on a five point scale. Former Home Secretary John Reid has said that “lone wolf” attacks like Wednesdays are extremely difficult to counter, especially because they are usually carried out by people with no previous criminal record.

Meanwhile, according to the Times, the Prime Minister has warned that the murder of Drummer Rigby could set an example for “copy attacks” by Islamic extremists. It has been revealed the MI5 and Scotland Yard chiefs told COBRA that other radicalised individuals “would seek to replicate the killing”, and one security source warned the situation could proliferate. Together with tighter security at military bases, an extra 1,200 police officers have been deployed in London to deter would-be attackers and the potential backlash from far-Right groups.


Answers to written questions on MDP pensions and MDP abuse investigations

  • Labour MP Alan Reid asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the percentage that will be deducted from the salaries of members of the DFRS and MDP in employee pension contributions in 2015-16 when their normal pension age is state pension age or, alternatively, 60 years old.

    Defence Minister Mark Francois MP responded that the average pension contribution for members of both the DFRS and MDP in 2015-16, when their normal pension age is the state pension age, will be 5.6%.

    Mr Francois went on to say that those who are within 10 years of their normal retirement age as of April 2012 will pay additional contributions but they will not see any increase in the age at which they can draw their pension benefits in full. All others will see their normal pension age increase in 2015-16. The Minister said it was not possible to specify what the impact on contributions would be if the NPA were to be reduced to 60 for either DFRS or MDP personnel; this would depend on how the additional costs, when they are known, would be shared between the Ministry of Defence and its employees in line with the requirement set out in the Public Sector Pensions Act 2013. Mr Francois mentioned that the MOD have recently started a review of the normal pension age for both groups which will address these issues.
     
  • Mr Reid also asked the Defence Secretary if he will place in the Library a copy of the calculations which estimated the cost of making the normal pension age 60 years for members of the DFRS and MDP and; a potential average increase in pension contributions for these members of staff; and which organisation carried out these calculations.

    Defence Minister Andrew Robathan MP said that the Department is withholding the information requested as it relates to the formation or development of Government policy. Mr Robathan said the normal pension ages of both the DFRS and MDP are currently under review in accordance with Clause 36 of the Public Sector Pensions Act 2013. Mr Robathan added that this review should be completed by the end of the year.
     
  • Labour MP Madeline Moon asked the Defence Secretary, with reference to the armed forces, whether the domestic abuse protocol has been rolled out to all garrison areas.

    Mark Francois MP responded said that the domestic abuse protocol in place between the Service Police (which at that time meant the Ministry of Defence Police, the Royal Military Police and the Royal Air Force Police) and Hampshire Constabulary has been expanded to include Thames Valley police and the Royal Navy Police and now relates to the handling of incidents within Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Thames Valley. Mr Francois added that no further expansion has taken place.
     
  • Mrs Moon asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many allegations of child abuse were made by, and against service personnel, and civilian staff based in the UK in each service in each year since 2005, and how many of these were either referred for prosecution or resulted in a conviction.

    Mr Francois provided a link to a previous answer on child sexual offences. Mr Francois said that for other child abuse offences, the MDP and service police have no record of any allegations made by or against members of the armed forces or civilian staff in the UK between 1st November 2009 and 31st December 2012 in which service police or the MDP were the investigative lead.


​Army launches recruitment drive for 10,000 new soldiers

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Army has launched a recruitment drive to attract 10,000 new soldiers, weeks before a fresh round of redundancies affecting 5,000 personnel. The MOD will be promoting its drive with a new television campaign starting this week and the Department says that the recruitment of new soldiers was important to ensure the Army kept training up more privates and junior officers. 11,000 personnel are said to leave the army annually, and the Telegraph reports that one in five people say they would consider joining up but are unaware of the number of vacancies.

The Army has been criticised for losing valuable expertise as it sheds veterans and trained soldiers in favour of young recruits. Conservative MP and former Army captain John Baron said he was surprised that the MOD’s plans involved taking on so many new regular soldiers at a time when it is cutting so many battalions. A spokesman for the MOD said that the redundancy programme for the Armed Forces was designed to safeguard skill sets needed in the future.


Police officers to declare friendships with journalists

The Daily Telegraph, has reported that guidelines published by the College of Policing will mean that Police officers, under the college’s jurisdiction in England and Wales, will have to formally declare any friendships with individuals who work in the media industry. Officers who fail to report friendships may be judged to have concealed the relationship and could face dismissal for gross misconduct. There are already strict rules in many police forces which require officers and staff to declare any associations with criminals, suspects or private detectives.

The Telegraph says that censorship campaigners will be alarmed by the move, with fears that the police are trying to increase secrecy over their activities and according to frontline police representatives, police managers have already taken a tougher line on whistle blowers and critics within the forces. The guidance has been formulated with recommendations by former parliamentary standards watchdog Elizabeth Filkin. The guidance also says that forces should name people when they are charged with a criminal offence in all but the most exceptional circumstances.

 

Eamon Keating
National Chairman

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