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The Defence Police Federation has hit out at plans which could potentially see the force – and the country – lose 300 armed officers.
The Ministry of Defence Police is currently approximately 2,600 police officers strong, but £12.5 million cuts proposed by the Government will see it shrinking to less than 2,300, according to the Federation’s chairman Eamon Keating.
This will cost one in ten armed officers and recruitment at the force will be frozen, Mr Keating told the Federation’s Annual Conference.
Mr Keating said: “The MDP senior leadership propose to ‘reset’ our workforce numbers to meet savings targets. We should have a chill down our spines at the very thought of such a measure and the implications it has for security, and for individual officers.
“That means a real terms reduction of around one in 10 firearms posts and the reduction or removal of police protection for MoD sites and national security. That in turn means a limitation, if not reduction, on the number of officers available for deployment in a national emergency and more importantly, on a day to day basis, a real reduction to security for the MoD.”
Mr Keating told the meeting that he had seen numbers halve during his career, and that any further reduction would come at cost to national security.
He told the conference: “In the current climate, where the threat levels are increasing and we have seen three terrorist attacks over the past 12 weeks, where response is limited and its sustainability – nationally – is under question, this type of decision is outrageous and cannot go unchecked.
“At a time when the national response is to require a greater firearms response and presence, why would the Ministry of Defence look to reduce its capability by cutting over 240 Authorised Firearms Officers?”