This week’s main security and defence news has been the jailing of a former Royal Marine for 18 years for terrorism offences. The Independent reports that Ciaran Maxwell stashed anti-personnel mines, mortars, ammunition and 14 pipe bombs – four of which were later used – in 43 purpose-built hides at eight locations in Northern Ireland and England. Bomb-making materials were found in barrels and buckets buried in the ground as well as an adapted Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) pass card, a PSNI uniform and a police stab-proof vest.
The 31-year-old, who is originally from Larne in County Antrim and was with 40 Commando based at Norton Manor Camp in Taunton, Somerset, at the time of the offences, pleaded guilty to preparation of terrorist acts between January 2011 and August last year, possessing images of bank cards for fraud and possessing cannabis with intent to supply. He also wrote a ‘to do’ list on which he identified over 300 targets, including police and military buildings as well as named individuals in Northern Ireland and Britain.
PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Gillian Kearney said Maxwell used his military know-how to accumulate and construct his devices, and described the infiltration of the military by a republican terrorist as “very unusual” and “certainly the first case of its kind in recent years”.
This incident has led to speculation that Mr Maxwell may not be the only terrorist sympathiser to be a member of the Armed Forces, with former Brigadier Richard Kemp claiming that Islamist terrorist may have already infiltrated the military. Whilst there is as yet no evidence of this, this conviction is further evidence of the need for the MoD to possess a robust but independent policing and investigative capacity.
· Police in England and Wales to be asked if they want to carry a gun
· Minster with responsibility for MDP confirmed
· MoD release MDP updated information charter
· 'Three Musketeers' guilty of planning UK terror plot
· Anti-Trident protestors have convictions overturned
· Armed Forces see two sex attack reports every week
· Manchester police investigated over shooting evidence
· British Transport Police in Scotland leave force ahead of merger
· Undercover police spied on more than 1,000 groups in UK, inquiry finds
· Police Officers report financial challenges
· Home Secretary urges tech giants to 'unite' to stop terrorists
· UK ‘reliant on NATO maritime patrol aircraft’
Police in England and Wales to be asked if they want to carry a gun
The Guardian reports that police officers in England and Wales are to be asked whether they want to routinely carry a gun and drop the principle of normally being unarmed. The Police Federation, which represents 123,000 rank and file officers, has now begun surveying its members. The survey will ask officers whether they think they or more of their colleagues should carry Taser electrical weapons, whether there should be more specialist armed officers and whether they themselves want to carry a gun as they patrol the streets. It is the first national survey asking officers if they want to carry a gun since 2006.
Earlier this year, a survey of London police officers by the Metropolitan Police Federation found that just over half said they would carry a gun routinely if asked to do so. One in 10 said they would quit rather than carry a firearm. Arming the police is still a minority view at chief constable level, where the vast majority want to avoid routine arming, believing it would change the face of policing.
It is unlikely that the survey will see officers support the routing arming of all personnel. Even if there was a consensus in the Home Office forces that such a move was necessary, there would be major practical and political barriers, meaning that an all-armed force is some way off. The MDP will remain a crucial and uniquely skilled component of the UK’s armed policing capability for the foreseeable future – a point we continue to make in discussions with parliamentarians, most recently the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence.
Minster with responsibility for MDP confirmed
After an extensive delay, it has now been formally confirmed that Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood has been assigned responsibility for the MDP. It was announced shortly after the election that he had replaced Mark Lancaster as Minister for Defence People and Veterans, but his portfolio of responsibilities has only just been released.
As we have previously noted, Mr Ellwood was elected to Parliament in 2005 as MP for Bournemouth East and served as a junior minister in the Foreign Office from 2014-16. He is a veteran of the Armed Forces and served in the Royal Green Jackets from 1991 to 1996. Notably, Mr Ellwood attempted to provide first aid and resuscitate PC Keith Palmer following the recent terrorist attack in Westminster, and was appointed to the Privy Council in recognition of these efforts.
We have written to Mr Ellwood directly to request a meeting to discuss the DPF’s concerns, particularly with regards to the planed reset of the MDP’s complement. Separately, Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith has written to him on this matter following her meeting with DPF National Chair Eamon Keating.
MoD release MDP updated information charter
The MoD has published an updated MDP information charter. The document contains information about how the MDP handles information about members of the defence community, its commitments to those it holds information on, and what it requires from those giving information.
'Three Musketeers' guilty of planning UK terror plot
The BBC reports that three men who dubbed themselves the Three Musketeers have been found guilty of plotting a terror attack on a police or military target in the UK. Naweed Ali, 29, and Khobaib Hussain, 25, both of Sparkhill, Birmingham, and Mohibur Rahman, 33, of Stoke-on-Trent, were convicted at the Old Bailey. They were arrested last August in an undercover police sting. A fourth man, Tahir Aziz, 38, from Stoke-on-Trent, was found guilty of the same offence. Police say the men, who had all denied preparing terrorist acts, were inspired by so-called Islamic State, also known as Daesh.
They were caught after counter-terrorism officers set up a fake courier firm, called Hero Couriers, where Hussain and Ali were offered driving shifts. Ali arrived for his first shift at the fake firm in August last year, leaving his Seat Leon car at the Birmingham depot, where MI5 officers searched the vehicle with a view to bugging it. However, inside they found a JD Sports bag containing a partially-constructed pipe bomb and meat cleaver with the word “kafir” – meaning non-believer – scratched on it. An imitation gun, cartridges, a 9mm bullet, latex gloves and industrial tape were also recovered.
Anti-Trident protestors have convictions overturned
The Times reports that five protestors from the Put Down the Sword joined Trident Ploughshares group have had their convictions for obstruction a public highway quashed, as the judge ruled that it could not be proven that the protesters obstructed the road. Police said that a green line on the road marked the boundary between the public highway and a private road maintained by the MoD. However, an expert from the local council’s highways department said that the line may have been painted in error more than 4ft from the boundary.
Nina Carter-Brown, who was 33 when convicted, Nick Cooper, 34, Angela Ditchfield, 38, Joanna Frew, 37, and Alison Parker, 33, were all given a six-month conditional discharge with costs of £100 and a surcharge of £20 when they were convicted in January. They had chained and glued themselves together to block the main access road to the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) research facility in Berkshire.
Despite the overturning of the conviction, this incident once again underlines that facilities such as the AWE face a broad range of security issues, and require an adaptable and civilian security force to protect them.
Armed Forces see two sex attack reports every week
The Dairy Mirror reports that sex attacks are being inflicted on female soldiers twice a week on average, figures show. Military police launched at least 113 probes into claims of rape, sexual assault and harassment last year, according to the MoD. It also admitted that at least 10 serving members of the Armed Forces are listed on the sex offenders’ register. Claims of female soldiers being raped by colleagues by 50% in a year, with investigations into virtually all other sex attacks up more than a quarter (27%). The study found 30 Armed Forces personnel claimed they had been raped last year, compared with 20 in 2015. The rapid rise in allegations comes just a year after the Armed Forces launched an anti-rape campaign. It followed complaints that the military did not treat sex crimes seriously.
Manchester police investigated over shooting evidence
The Guardian reports that officers from Greater Manchester police are being investigated over evidence they gave following two fatal shootings, the police watchdog has said. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) had launched investigations into evidence given by officers following the death of PC Ian Terry, killed in a botched training exercise in 2008, and at a public inquiry into the death of Anthony Grainger, an unarmed man who was shot by a firearms officer in 2012.
In 2010, an inquest jury ruled that PC Terry been unlawfully killed, but the Crown Prosecution Service said there was not enough evidence to bring criminal charges against any officers. An IPCC spokesman said a new investigation had been launched into the evidence provided by some officers following PC Terry’s death. Mr Grainger, 36, was shot as he sat in a car. A public inquiry into his death, which began in January this year, heard how officers relied on out-of-date intelligence and inaccurate briefings in their operation. The IPCC spokesman said: “We have also begun a separate independent investigation into a complaint we received that relates to the evidence given at the public inquiry.”
British Transport Police in Scotland leave force ahead of merger
The Scotsman reports that officers have begun leaving the British Transport Police (BTP) ahead of its controversial integration into Police Scotland. The BTP Federation said a small number of officers had left to join specialist forces elsewhere in Scotland, while others were seeking transfers to England. Legislation passed before Holyrood’s summer recess will see BTP’s operations in Scotland taken over by Police Scotland from 2019.
Nigel Goodband, chairman of the BTP Federation, said: “We’ve recently had four transfer and they have gone to non-Home Office police forces such as the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and the Ministry of Defence Police. There are some looking to transfer to BTP south of the Border. They don’t want to be part of Police Scotland and have chosen to go into another force.” There are around 3,000 BTP officers in the UK, around 200 of whom are based in Scotland. Mr Goodband said it was impossible to know how many officers would leave until firm details are available from the Scottish Government.
Undercover police spied on more than 1,000 groups in UK, inquiry finds
The Independent reports that undercover police officers have been deployed to spy on more than 1,000 groups, political organisations and gangs, an inquiry into the operations has found. The figure, disclosed for the first time in an email to lawyers representing targeted activists, could rise dramatically as investigations continue to gather responses from police forces across the UK, The Independent understands.
The Undercover Policing Inquiry (UPI) is investigating “serious and widespread concerns about the behaviour and the use of undercover police officers” stretching back to 1968. It was established in 2015 by Theresa May, then the Home Secretary. The inquiry has not yet heard any evidence, amid pushes by police forces for hearings to be held in private and the identities of officers involved to be withheld.
Police use force against suspects 138 times a day in London, figures show
The Evening Standard reports that police used force against suspects and individuals more than 100 times a day in London, according to data released for this week. In the three months to the end of June, individual officers recorded “incidents of force” 12,605 times, or an average of 138 cases a day. Nearly half – 5,397 – were described as “compliant handcuffing” while other common tactics included the use of “unarmed skills”, restraint and “tactical communications” to defuse situations. Officers were injured on 643 occasions during this period.
Firearms officers aimed weapons on 281 occasions, police used batons 46 times and controversial spit guards were used 25 times. The figures record armed police firing weapons on only two occasions, believed to be the incidents involving a raid on suspected terrorists in Willesden, when a woman was shot, and the terror attack in Borough Market when three extremists were shot dead.
Police Officers report financial challenges
Police Oracle reports that more than one in ten police officers say they either never or almost never have enough money to cover all of their essentials. Around 30,000 police officers took part in a pay and morale survey, organised by the Police Federation of England and Wales. While 10% of officers surveyed can’t afford everyday essentials, for probationers this proportion rises to around one in six. Nearly 75% of respondents said they feel financially worse off than they did five years ago, and more than 85% do not feel fairly paid considering the stresses and strains of the job.
Police Federation General Secretary, Andy Fittes, said: “These findings make for uncomfortable reading, showing members are clearly feeling financial strain, but come as no surprise.” He added “We know officers are struggling, with some using food vouchers, which is frankly not acceptable for those employed to keep us safe or in fact any public sector worker.”
Home Secretary urges tech giants to 'unite' to stop terrorists
The Evening Standard reports that Amber Rudd has urged tech giants in Silicon Valley to “unite” to stop terrorists from using their platforms to “weaponise vulnerable people in their homes.” The Home Secretary told representatives of Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and YouTube at a meeting in San Francisco on Tuesday that, along with governments, they needed to do more to stop radicalisation online, stating “We must be united in our resolve to purge the internet of this poisonous and pernicious material.”
Earlier this year, a committee of MPs accused social media firms of a “shameful” failure to tackle online terrorist propaganda and hate speech. In June Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, the country's most senior counter-terror officer, urged internet-based companies to “show more responsibility”.
UK ‘reliant on NATO maritime patrol aircraft’
The Independent reports that the Government has been accused of leaving Britain reliant on other countries for its security as figures revealed NATO allies deployed almost 40 planes to a key airbase. Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood, the Minister for Defence, said 37 maritime patrol aircraft – including planes from the US, Germany and France – were temporarily deployed to RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland last year. The number of aircraft from NATO states at the base has increased by 76% from 21 in 2015, according figures revealed in answer to a written parliamentary question from the Shadow Defence Secretary, Nia Griffith.
The UK scrapped the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft in 2010. Although nine P-8 Poseidon aircraft are on order from the US, they will not begin to be delivered until 2019.·