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Parliamentary and Political Monitoring Report w/c 06th February

By DPF Admin10th February 2017August 6th, 2019Area Updates, Latest News, Northern Updates, Southern Updates

This week’s main UK security and defence news has been an MDP-supported raid in which 800 weapons were seized. The Times reports that the weapons, including sub-machineguns and assault rifles, were seized during an unprecedented operation to confiscate guns from organised criminals and keep them out of the hands of terrorists.

The National Crime Agency and counterterrorism police also seized 4,385 rounds of live ammunition and made 282 arrests in the intensive four-week operation between October and November.

Among the weapons was a high-powered rifle seized from a group of drug dealers in London. Detective Superintendent Nick Wilcox, of National Counter Terrorism Policing, said: “That, in the hands of chaotic drug dealers, is a significant seizure and not the norm. It’s quite worrying. It’s not a massive leap for it to get into the hands of others who want to cause damage with it.”

The MDP also joined the operation and seized 35 weapons, including Kalashnikovs. About half of the weapons seized were considered viable, meaning that they could be used straight away.

The involvement of the MDP in this operation demonstrates the value of the additional armed policing capacity they bring to UK security operations and the ability of the Force to support Home Office constabularies.

Anti-nuclear activists arrested after blockade at Faslane

STV News reports that anti-nuclear activists have been arrested after forming a blockade at Faslane. Five protesters lay on the road connected with arm lock tubes to block entry to the south gate of HM Naval Base late last week. The MDP used cutting equipment to free the protesters from the arm tubes before detaining them. A spokesman for Naval Base Clyde said: “We can confirm that MDP arrested five individuals this morning outside of HM Naval Base Clyde and charged them with breach of the peace. He added “The naval base has well-established procedures in place for such eventualities and our core business of supporting the Royal Navy fleet was not affected by this incident.”

In a statement issued in relation to the incident, Faslane Peace Camp said traffic had been directed from the south gate to the base's north gate as a result of the blockade, with traffic tailing back around two miles to Shandon in Argyll. The peace camp activists said their aim was to work for “a nuclear-free world instead of developing new nuclear technology”.

This incident once again demonstrates the importance of having MDP officers trained to manage the full spectrum of security challenges protecting core MoD facilities, and the potential risk of replacing them with Armed Forces personnel with very different training and rules of engagement.

Claim of “gaping holes” in UK defence capabilities

The Sunday Times reports that that Britain has been left with gaps in its defences, with warships so noisy that Russian submarines can hear them 100 miles away, drones costing £1bn that have not entered frontline service 12 years after being ordered and light tanks that are too big to fit into transport aircraft.

The claims include that the Type 45 destroyers can be detected by submarines at a distance of up to 100 miles as they sound like a “box of spanners” underwater, according to Rear Admiral Chris Parry, a former MoD director of operational capability. It is also believed that the Army’s new Ajax light armoured vehicles are too big to fit into the RAF’s main transport aircraft, the A400m, without being partly dismantled. Additionally, it is claimed that the Army’s Watchkeeper drone is been seriously delayed in its entry to service, and that the RAF’s new P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft are vulnerable to hacking. Michael Clarke, a former director-general at RUSI, said: “After a period of financial discipline from 2010 to 2015, the likelihood is the MoD may slip into the old ways of delaying projects, reducing specifications, and keeping old systems going with more expensive extension programmes.”

The majority of the equipment issues reported in the article were already public knowledge. However, the core allegations of constant delays and a focus on ‘gold plated’ systems at a time of serious budget constraints ring true.

Iraq human rights lawyer struck off for misconduct

The Guardian reports that the campaigning human rights lawyer Phil Shiner has been struck off as a solicitor after he was found guilty of multiple professional misconduct charges, including dishonesty and lack of integrity. The Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) said it would now reassess cases referred by Shiner and his firm, Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), to decide whether they should still be pursued. “The evidence presented at the solicitor’s disciplinary tribunal casts serious doubt on the reliability of some of the remaining allegations,” an IHAT spokeswoman said.

PIL was instrumental in passing on about 65% of the 3,392 allegations received by IHAT, which now has fewer than 250 active investigations. The tribunal found Shiner guilty of 22 misconduct charges. They were proved to the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt. Two other charges were left to lie in the file. Mr Shiner was also ordered to pay for the full costs of the prosecution, starting with an interim down payment of £250,000. The Birmingham lawyer led the pursuit of legal claims against British troops for their treatment of Iraqi detainees after the 2003 invasion.

Claim that MPs to call for “rotten” IHAT investigation to be replaced by internal inquiry

The Sun reports that the probe into alleged war crimes by British troops in Iraq should be binned, MPs will say. A Defence Committee report due to be published imminently will say the IHAT was ripe for abuse. Committee Member Johnny Mercer MP said: “I am clear where the problems lie… There is a rotten core of civil servants who made decisions without ministers or military input.” The inquiry will reportedly call for IHAT to be replaced by a military-led investigation of the remaining cases.

A MoD spokesperson said: “The government is legally obliged to investigate criminal allegations and the courts are clear that if IHAT did not exist, British troops could be dragged through international courts.” They added “We’re committed to reducing IHAT’s caseload to a small number of credible cases as quickly as possible.”

Russian hacking aims to destabilise West, Defence Secretary says

The BBC reports that Russia is carrying out a sustained campaign of cyber-attacks targeting democracy and critical infrastructure in the West, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon has warned. Moscow hoped to destabilise governments, expand its influence and weaken NATO by “weaponising misinformation” he said. Sir Michael said Russian President Vladimir Putin had chosen to become a “strategic competitor” of the West.

Suspected Russian attacks had included France's TV5Monde broadcaster being taken off air in April 2015 – originally claimed by hackers linked to the self-styled Islamic State – and the targeting of Germany's lower House of Parliament, he said. Another cyber-attack, on Bulgaria in October 2016, was described by the country's president as the “heaviest” and most “intense” to be conducted in south-eastern Europe.

A Kremlin spokesman said: “We're very disappointed that Minister Fallon is so aggressively disposed, we are sure that such an accusation against our country is unfounded.”

Question on the Service Police and MDP answered in House of Commons

Labour MP Kevan Jones’ question asking the Defence Secretary what the end-of-year budget was for the (a) Royal Military, (b) Royal Naval, (c) Royal Air Force Police and (d) MDP in each year since 2010 has been answered.

Defence Minister Mark Lancaster provided the following data:


Royal Military Police

RAF Police



Not available

Not available



Not available

Not available




Not available




Not available




Not available










Mr Lancaster added that he was unable to provide information for the Royal Navy Police due to the structural changes the organisation had undergone in recent years.

The side-by-side comparison of the budgets of the RMP and MDP starkly illustrate the pressure the latter’s finances have been under since the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review – a point the Federation routinely makes in discussions with both parliamentarians and journalists.

Donald Trump vows “strong support” for NATO

The Independent reports that Donald Trump has declared his “strong” support for NATO in his most forceful backing yet for an organisation he once branded “obsolete”.  It comes as the US President is set for a showdown in Brussels in the spring when he meets other NATO leaders, many of whom he has lambasted for not spending enough on defence. Speaking during his first visit to the headquarters of US Central Command in Tampa, Florida, Mr Trump said he now “strongly supported” the bloc.

The speech follows claims by Theresa May during her visit to Washington in January that Mr Trump had pledged his “100 per cent” backing for the alliance.

A major gauge of the extent to which the Trump administration supports NATO will be the position it takes regarding an upcoming vote in the US Senate on granting Montenegro membership of the alliance.

UK police forces paid informants £20m over past five years

The Guardian reports that police chiefs have insisted that paying informants is cost effective after new figures revealed that forces have paid almost £20m for information over the last five years. BBC Radio 5 Live asked 45 UK police forces to state how much they spent on informants. The 43 forces that responded collectively spent £19.59m. After the Metropolitan Police, which paid out £5.2, the second highest payer was the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which parted with almost £2m.

Leicestershire’s deputy chief constable, Roger Bannister, the National Police Chiefs Council lead on informants, said there was no upper limit to the money forces were willing to pay for information. But he added that the practice was scrutinised and could help save money by cutting the need for months of surveillance.


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