The Defence Police Federation held its annual conference outside London this week. In a keynote speech widely reported across the UK media (details of which are outlined below), National Chairman Eamon Keating highlighted the pressure on the MDP and increasing demands on officers; noting the impact on morale while calling for serious issues of Terms and Conditions of Service to be addressed. Mr Keating also argued for greater resourcing for the security of domestic MoD sites and assets; warning these to be at significant risk of attack, which could severely impair military capability.
Elsewhere, Parliament has returned to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, with the House of Commons considering a series of amendments tabled in the House of Lords. Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to make concessions on Parliament’s role on approving a deal (or indeed no deal) negotiated by ministers in order to pacify a number of her backbenchers. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn suffered his own rebellion with nearly 100 Labour MPs refusing to vote as ordered on an amendment pertaining to the UK remaining in the European Economic Area. Further fractious debate in Parliament is likely, with Brexit continuing to dominate the legislative and parliamentary timetables.
Elsewhere, US President Donald Trump met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for an historic summit this week. Mr Trump was quick to articulate the success of the meeting, claiming to have significantly reduced the threat of North Korea becoming a nuclear power. The President also called off military exercises around the Korean peninsula – although it remains to be seen whether North Korean commitments to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons will come to fruition.
- DPF conference: lack of resourcing threatens MoD capability
- Warplanes revealed to be guarded by a 5ft fence
- Home Secretary insists new counter-terror strategy is balanced
- Trump demands greater UK spend on NATO
- Police detective system targets graduates
- Rising crime a sign of inequality, says senior Met officer
- Scientist held amidst fears of plot to sell secrets
DPF conference: lack of resourcing threatens MoD capability
The DPF held its annual conference this week, with National Chairman Eamon Keating delivering a keynote speech that warned of the risks to MoD establishments and assets in the UK; noting that a successful attack could severely impact military capability and the MoD budget; and making the case for security – including the resourcing of the MDP – to be included within the Modernising Defence Programme.
In the speech, which has been reported in the Daily Telegraph, Bloomberg, and The Scotsman, Mr Keating argued MoD bases were at significant and increasing risk of attack due to continual cuts the numbers and budget of the MDP over the last decade. Mr Keating also highlighted changes to the Terms and Conditions of Service for officers, claiming they felt “unwanted and devalued,” and called on the Government to ensure pay parity between the MDP and other police forces. Mr Keating was also interviewed by BBC Scotland Radio, LBC Radio, Sky Radio and British Forces Broadcasting ahead of the speech – stressing the importance of effectively funding the security of the MoD sites and assets to maximise military capability.
Mr Keating additionally expressed deep concern over the ‘reset’ of the size of the MDP to achieve budget savings demanded by the Department – highlighting the decision as one that prioritised costs over threat, and which set a deeply worrying precedent for future savings demands. The National Chairman has used the speech to note the reset will lead to the effective loss of around 400,000 hours of armed policing capacity within the MDP.
Responding to a request for comment from the Daily Telegraph, a spokeswoman for the MoD said: “The MoD Police has enough resources to meet its operational requirements. The number of officers has increased over the past five years and we will employ a further 200 officers in the near future.”
“The MoD Police does vital work to protect key sites around the UK and discussions are currently underway on the issue of pay parity. We would never implement changes to our security arrangements that would put the safety and security of our people and assets at risk.”
The response from the Department is concerning, as it appears that they are referring to the normal recruitment annually, which is designed to keep the Force numbers stable, but which has failed at that recently.
The content of the National Chairman’s speech follows the submissions made by the DPF to the Defence Select Committee inquiry on the Modernising Defence Programme and the MoD’s own consultation. The Modernising Defence Programme is expected to publish its recommendations in early July – ahead of which the Federation will continue to make the case for additional funding for security (including the MDP), highlighting the impact an attack would have on the MoD budget and military capability.
The Federation is also continuing to engage with parliamentarians and media contacts on the issues of TACOS and pensions, stressing the need for pay parity and the implementation of agreements such as the Effective Pension Age.
Warplanes revealed to be guarded by 5ft fence
The Sun has reported that the UK’s new F-35 Lightening jets, costing more than £100 million and based at RAF Marham, are protected by no more than a 5ft fence – with pictures of the site published online.
Plane spotters highlighted the security flaw to The Sun, with suggestions they could have gotten within 50 metres of the planes, which only arrived in the UK last week having been built in the United States. The MoD has insisted the security of the site is multi-layered and not reliant on fencing; although commentators have suggested pictures of the base and its fencing demonstrate a lack of investment in the security of high-value assets.
The news story by The Sun underlines comments made by DPF National Chairman Eamon Keating at conference this week of the urgent need for additional investment to protect MoD assets procured at significant expense. We continue to highlight the case ahead of the Modernising Defence Programme reporting in July.
Home Secretary insists new counter-terror strategy is balanced
Writing in The Guardian this week, new Home Secretary Sajid Javid has responded to criticisms of the newly published counter-terrorism strategy, insisting the proposals are balanced and will be carefully scrutinised by Parliament.
The counter-terrorism strategy has faced criticism for being “Orwellian,” as it will afford police and the security services greater powers to monitor online content (with a view to identifying extremist postings and possible threats); while also providing greater powers to investigate possible hostile state activity (in the wake of the Salisbury attack).
Mr Javid has insisted the strategy does not afford the police and security services a “blank cheque” and does not, as some critics have suggested, “criminalise thought.” The Home Secretary has noted the strategy was prepared following consultation with independent reviewers of counter-terrorism legislation – extending the consultation process beyond the police, security services and Crown Prosecution Service. Mr Javid has also confirmed the strategy includes safeguards and oversight to ensure proportionate use.
Meanwhile, The Independenthas reported that the number of far-right terrorists imprisoned in Britain has more than trebled in a year, following the publication of new figures from the Home Office on terror arrests. A total of 29 people have been imprisoned in the year to March – up from nine the same period last year. The number of far-right prisoners constitutes 13 percent of the total number imprisoned for terror offences.
A total of 441 people have been arrested for terror-related offences in the 12 months to April 2018, following major operations in response to the attacks in Manchester, London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Parsons Green.
Security Minister Ben Wallace said, “These figures demonstrate yet again the impressive work done by the police, MI5 and wider criminal justice system to keep us all safe. Intervening early is central to our strengthened counter-terrorism strategy and through the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill, we are introducing new laws giving the police the powers they need.”
The DPF will continue to monitor the progress of counter-terrorism legislation and will engage as required in future consultations and inquiries, with the Home Affairs Select Committee likely to closely scrutinise the plans in the coming months.
Trump demands greater UK spend on NATO
The Times has reported that US President Donald Trump is pressing the UK to commit more financially to NATO, with his administration calling for defence spending to be increased above the two percent GDP target of the Alliance.
The President, who participated in a fractious G7 summit last week (during which he was criticised over newly introduced steel tariffs and outvoted on the suggestion Russia be returned to the group) sparked alarm when tweeting his frustration at the financial contribution made by the US to the Alliance in comparison to its other members. Mr Trump is to visit the UK following the NATO summit in July and is expected to use the trip to put further pressure on Theresa May to increase defence spending.
The President’s intervention is being used within Whitehall to make the case for additional defence spending, with Secretary of State Gavin Williamson needing Chancellor Philip Hammond to commit to a significant increase in expenditure to underpin findings of the Modernising Defence Programme. However, Mr Hammond is also facing pressure to grant additional funding to other areas of government – notably the NHS.
Police detective system targets graduates
The BBChas reported that police forces in England and Wales are developing a new fast-track scheme in response to a shortfall of 5,000 investigators. Under than plans, graduates could be put onto cases within three months but would continue to receive training over a two-year period.
The Government has allocated £350,000 for the new detective entry programme. Police forces are also understood to be considering attracting PCs and civilian detectives to make up the shortfall. The scheme currently has no published start date.
However, Police Federation Secretary Karen Stephens has described the plans as “divisive and ill-conceived,” warning they will “shatter morale even more and do nothing to instill public confidence and trust.”
Rising crime a sign of inequality, says senior Met officer
The Guardian has reported that one of the UK’s most senior police officers – Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Patricia Gallan – has suggested that crime rates are being affected and increased by social inequality; with jailed people tending to be those with less money and opportunity.
Speaking to the newspaper, Ms Gallan – who leads Scotland Yard’s specialist crime and operations activities – has called for a wider effort to address inequalities, arguing people feel “they do not have a stake in society.” The Assistant Commissioner’s comments follow data showing rising crime rates, and have been viewed as an effort to prompt further debate about social factors influencing and prompting crime. Her comments have also been made as she prepares to retire as a senior frontline officer.
Scientist held amidst fears of plot to steal secrets
The Times has reported that a scientist who held a senior position a Rolls-Royce has been arrested as part of an investigation into fears of a Chinese plot to steal secrets about the RAF’s new £100 million stealth F-35B jet.
Bryn Jones, the company’s former Chief Combustion Technologist, was detained on suspicion of breaching the Official Secrets Act after MI5 learnt sensitive material could have been linked to Beijing.
The warplanes arrived in the UK last week and have been described as the “most advanced and dynamic fighter jet” in British military history.