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A Brief History

The history of the Federation is closely interwoven with the history of the Ministry of Defence Police. Indeed, it would be fair to say that the Force owes its very existence to the Federation’s efforts, or rather to those of its predecessors.

Until 1971 there was no Defence Police Federation, nor was there a Ministry of Defence Police Force. Before that date, each of the three armed services had its own constabulary, with its own Chief Constable. Each of those constabularies had its own staff association. Recognising that unity is strength, these staff associations formed a Federal Council in 1953 but even this arrangement did not ensure the cohesion, solidarity and bargaining power needed to best protect members’ interests. So, in 1971 the associations agreed to form a single Defence Police Federation.

The new Federation strongly believed that the MoD’s three police forces should be amalgamated. It argued that amalgamation was the only way to realise the forces’ true potential , enhancing their officer’s professionalism and so ending forever the the idea that these officers were somehow inferior to “real” police officers – and that they should be paid accordingly. Even before the formation of the Defence Police Federation, the individual Defence constabularies’ staff associations’ had fought constantly against the notion that their members should receive a considerably abated rate to full police pay. The Federation campaigned tirelessly for amalgamation, and our views began to be echoed even within the Ministry of Defence itself. Finally, in 1971, the Department conceded, and the Ministry of Defence Police was formed.

The next landmark in the history of the MDP was also to a great extent the result of the Federation’s efforts. Ever since the establishment of the force in 1971, the Federation had campaigned for an Act of Parliament to replace the maze of regulations, statutory provisions and instructions on which the MDP’s legal authority was based. We believed that such an Act would enable the officers we represented to discharge their duties more easily and to enhance their credibility as police officers. In 1987, following the recommendations of the Broadbent Report, we finally saw this aim realised and Parliament passed the Ministry of Defence Police Act.

The Ministry of Defence Police Act was also a landmark in the history of the DPF too. It gave full legal status to the Federation and put it on par with the representative bodies of other police forces. Our standing in relation to the Secretary of State for Defence is the same as that of the Police Federation of England and Wales to the Home Secretary.

Since the Act, the force has gone from strength to strength, and MDP officers have won widespread praise for their high standards, skills and professionalism. The Defence Police Federation is proud to say that it has played a major part in this evolution.

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