During the past month, the Defence Police Federation’s focus has been two-fold. Firstly, to engage with officials and parliamentarians to get an understanding of the likely content of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, and how it might affect the MDP. Secondly, to continue discussions with the MoD over Terms and Conditions of Service.
The product of this engagement has been that a series of parliamentarians and journalists have agreed in principle to meet with the Federation. This is important in providing a basis for engagement with the SDSR following its publication, which we expect at the end of the month.
Defence and security news this month has continued to relate to the SDSR, with representatives of the various branches of the Armed Forces making the case for their continued support. However, significant attention has also been paid to Home Office policing, with a series of news stories indicating the potential for substantial cuts to constabularies when the Chancellor presents the Comprehensive Spending Review on 25 November.
Such is the level of concern at the prospect of further cuts to police numbers that high ranking officers have publicly highlighted the policing services that would be put in jeopardy if they are forced to absorb further reductions in personnel or budget.
The MoD has, however, faced criticism over the past month for the publication of a list of assets that included antiquated weaponry.
Despite the comments of a range of defence leaders and experts, the Chancellor has continued to insist the Government will meet the NATO target of spending two percent of GDP on defence – even indicating that welfare spending will be cut in order to meet the pledge. However, the likes of the Royal United Services Union (RUSI) have noted that the only way the Government will meet their target is through the inclusion of spending on intelligence services, including GCHQ.
The political approach
As noted above, the Federation has continued to engage with MoD officials during the past month regarding the implications of the SDSR and also on TACOS.
The date of publication for the SDSR is yet to be confirmed by the Government, but we anticipate it will be in the week commencing 23 November. The best indications are also that the MoD will expect the MDP to make further savings – although the full impact of the SDSR is yet to be outlined by officials.
The Federation has therefore been contacting parliamentarians in means of highlighting the importance of security being determined by the risk to the defence estate rather than by costs. We will also seek to highlight some of the problems that were experienced in the wake of the SDSR in 2010 – seeking to prevent such issues happening again.
To date, we have agreements in principle from half a dozen parliamentarians to meet – these including prominent Conservative backbenchers and members of the shadow cabinet. The purpose of these meetings is to ensure any decisions relating to security and the role of the MDP are fully and fairly scrutinised.
The Federation has also monitored the work of the National Police Chiefs Council, which at the end of October rejected proposals for the introduction of compulsory severance. The plans, which would have applied to Home Office constabularies, would have permitted the use of compulsory redundancy of officers.
The Federation wrote to both MoD minister Mark Lancaster and Policing Minister Mike Penning to express concern at the proposals. The Council’s vote does not, however, rule out the prospect of compulsory severance. Despite rejecting the plans for the time being, the Council will return to them following the Comprehensive Spending Review.
As part of our preparations for the SDSR, the Federation has secured agreements to meetings with two national journalists.
We are also preparing our messaging for a response to the SDSR, which will be finalised once the full impact of the publication on the MDP is confirmed.
We would like to thank those members who have written to their MP in the past month on the subject of compulsory severance.
We would remind all members that any correspondence is subject to MDP regulations.