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Parliamentary and Political Monitoring Report w/c 07th December 2015

By DPF Admin11th December 2015August 6th, 2019Area Updates, Latest News, Northern Updates, Southern Updates

This week's main security and defence news has been a stabbing at Leytonstone underground station in East London, which the Metropolitan Police labelled as a “terrorist incident”. If the terrorism motive is confirmed, it would be the first violent jihadi attack in Britain since May 2013, when soldier Lee Rigby was murdered outside a London Army barracks.

The BBC reports that police were called to reports of people being attacked at Leytonstone around 19:00 GMT on Saturday. The knifeman reportedly shouted “this is for Syria”. A man – later identified as Muhaydin Mire – was arrested after being Tasered by police. One man suffered serious knife injuries while two others received minor injuries. The Evening Standard reports that police were told of concerns about Mire’s behaviour three weeks ago, but referred his family to health services. Mire’s brother Mohamed told Channel 4 News Mire had “mental problems” that may have begun when he started using cannabis, and he reportedly spent three months in hospital after being diagnosed with paranoia in 2007. Mire appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with attempted murder.

In the aftermath of the attack, The Guardian reports that police guarding the transport network said they would place more officers at train stations across London and consider whether extra visible patrols were needed elsewhere in the country. The UK terrorism threat level remains at “severe”, meaning an attack is considered highly likely.

Contents

  • Questions on the MDP answered in the House of Commons
  • Home Secretary warns police of further budget cuts
  • Army aids rescue efforts in aftermath of flooding
  • Security issues reported at RAF base
  • Police target UK's young cybercriminals
  • Iraq compensation claims rejected

Questions on the MDP answered in the House of Commons

In the aftermath of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), which contained within it a warning that almost thirty per cent of the MoD's civil servants would be cut, attention has turned to what this would mean in practice. This week has seen two questions on the future of the MDP tabled by former Defence Minister Kevin Jones (North Durham) (Lab) and answered by the MoD.

Mr Jones' first question to the Defence Secretary inquired as to what funding has been allocated to the MDP over the next five years. In response, Defence Minister Mark Lancaster gave the following figures:

Financial year

2015-16  

2016-17  

2017-18   

2018-19  

2019-20

Budget (£m)

132.536  

138.367  

137.161   

136.960   

138.126

 

However, Mr Lancaster also noted that figures for 2016-17 onwards are provisional until the implications of the SDSR have been worked through.

Mr Jones' second question to the Defence Secretary asked how many MDP Officers he estimates will be employed by his Department over the next five years. In response, Defence Minister Mark Lancaster gave the following figures:

 

Financial year   

 

 

2015-16 

 

2016-17 

 

2017-18 

 

2018-19 

 

2019-20

 

MDP Officers   

 

 

2,666      

 

2,631      

 

2,631      

 

2,631      

 

2,631      

 

However, Mr Lancaster again noted that figures for 2016-17 onwards are provisional until the implications of the SDSR have been worked through.

Home Secretary warns police of further budget cuts

Sky News reports that the Home Secretary has again put herself at odds with police as she warned forces they will not be “let off the hook” over cuts. Theresa May told senior officers that if they thought the Chancellor's unexpected move to protect police from cuts meant they could continue wasteful spending they “couldn't be more wrong”. In a speech to chief constables and police crime commissioners, she also hit out at those who have continued to complain about budgets, despite George Osborne's favourable Spending Review two weeks ago.

Mrs May said while the police budget is being protected it did not mean there is a “reprieve from reform”. The Home Secretary also asked chief constables and crime commissioners how specialist capabilities, such as firearms, financial crime or cyber units, could be delivered in regional teams. This is the latest in a series of tense exchanges between the police and the Home Secretary, who earlier this year accused the Police Federation of “scaremongering” and “crying wolf” over cuts.

The protection of police funding on condition of further reform and cost saving measures is very similar to the caveats placed on the protection of the MoD's budget. It appears to be the Government's intent to leverage its decision to protect overall support for police in order to extract reforms that may have proved politically and practically difficult in the face of further cuts.

Army aids rescue efforts in aftermath of flooding

The Guardian reports that the Army has been deployed to help flood-hit communities in the north of England after Storm Desmond left at least 60,000 homes without power and many lacking clean water, with whole communities cut off. About 350 soldiers have been made available from 2nd Battalion Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, based in Weeton Barracks near Preston, to assist with the general flooding response. They arrived with two vehicles to help evacuate and warn residents in Carlisle and also sent a Chinook helicopter to move high-velocity pumping equipment needed at an electricity substation. In Lancaster, Army trucks were used as ambulances to ferry patients to hospital.

The role of the military as an aid to the civil powers in emergencies was one of the major features of the recently published SDSR.

Security issues reported at RAF

The Sunday Mail reports that sections of RAF Marham, the facility at which the Tornado aircraft currently bombing targets in Syria and Iraq are based, is protected by a flimsy 5ft-high picket fence. Although a hedge grows along most of the quarter-mile section of fence on the north-east corner of the base, a reporter from the newspaper discovered an 8ft-wide gap, allowing him to go straight up to the fence. The spot is just 300 yards from a path on which the bombers, which each cost £9.4 million, taxi down before they take off on the main runway. The reporter, carrying a large rucksack which could potentially have hidden a bomb or weapons, stood by the fence for more than an hour on Wednesday as five of the jets took off on training missions. At no time was he challenged by personnel at the base. An RAF spokesman said: “As a matter of policy, neither the RAF nor the Ministry of Defence discuss security measures. However, we can confirm security measures in place are robust and multi-layered, and are not solely dependent on perimeter fencing.”

Police target UK's young cybercriminals

The BBC reports that teenagers committing crimes online are being targeted by the National Crime Agency (NCA). The Cyber Choices campaign aims to warn young people about the dangers of hacking and using online tools for cyber-attacks. The drive comes after NCA research revealed the average age of people involved in its investigations was 17. The research also indicated few teenagers knew what constituted a cybercrime or what would happen if they were caught.

The NCA has produced a range of materials that spell out UK laws governing computer misuse. They also deal with the most common types of cybercrime teenagers tend to be involved with. The materials include guides for parents and lesson plans for teachers as well as video testimonies by young former hackers about what they did and the consequences they have suffered.

Iraq compensation claims rejected

The Daily Mail reports that hundreds of compensation claims brought by suspected Iraqi insurgents and their families against the MoD were thrown out this week. In a landmark ruling, three judges overturned a High Court judgment that allowed Iraqi civilians to sue over allegations of detention and mistreatment by British soldiers in Iraq years after the event. The judges at the Court of Appeal ruled in the MoD’s favour and said claims could only be brought within three years of the alleged crime taking place.

The ruling means that 612 claims, which were submitted in 2013, are no longer valid because the alleged incidents took place more than three years before the complaints were lodged. These claims comprise by far the largest proportion of the outstanding civilian claims arising from the conflict in Iraq.

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