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Parliamentary and Political Monitoring Report w/c 10th April 2017

By DPF Admin13th April 2017August 6th, 2019Area Updates, Latest News, Northern Updates, Southern Updates

The main UK security and defence news has this week centred on the funeral of PC Keith Palmer, who was killed while on duty in the 22 March attack on Westminster. Thousands of police officers lined the streets of South London on Tuesday joining around 50 members of PC Palmer’s family along the 2.6-mile route to his funeral at Southwark Cathedral. Officers bowed their heads to pay tribute to his heroism as the ceremonial procession carrying the colours and crest of the metropolitan police passed in front of the hearse carrying PC Palmer’s coffin.

The Guardian reported that London Mayor Sadiq Kahn and Home Secretary Amber Rudd were in attendance to see the coffin carried into Southwark Cathedral by PC Palmer’s colleagues from Bromley borough, past a guard of honour formed by his closest friends. Chief Inspector Neil Sawyer delivered a tribute at the service, saying that Palmer had “stood firm and made the ultimate sacrifice in doing his duty.” The Dean of Southwark, the very Rev Andrew Nunn, said that “Keith laid down his life” for all of those in attendance, and the many who had paid tribute to him since his death, adding that PC Palmer “died for the democracy he was protecting… and the freedom we should treasure.”

The Daily Telegraph reported that 5,000 officers had been in attendance for the country’s “biggest ever police funeral”, with newly appointed Met Commissioner Cressida Dick praising the overwhelming display of solidarity from Britain’s servicemen and women. The Times’ editorial said the funeral had been a “fitting tribute” to PC Palmer and lamented the nation losing “a brave officer… and loyal servant of the state.” 

Our National Chairman and General Secretary were in attendance with other national Federation representatives at the service.

Five days’ prior to the funeral another victim of the attack, Andreea Cristea, was pronounced dead at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London. Ms Cristea fell into the Thames as the attacker, Khalid Mahmood, drove his car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge. The 31-year-old had been receiving medical treatment since the attack and her life support was withdrawn on Thursday 6 April. Her family and partner issued a statement saying their “beloved and irreplaceable Andrea… was cruelly and brutally ripped away”, though she would always be remembered as a “shining ray of light.” The statement also expressed the family’s gratitude for the money donated to them for Andreea’s recovery, and said this would now be given to charity.

Andreea Cristea became the fifth person to have been killed in the attack on 22 March, alongside 50 others who were injured.

·       Royal Marines to lose 200 posts for carrier staffing crisis

·       Army cuts threaten battlefield training

·       Carillion wins £200 million MoD contract

·       New figures reveal surge in violent crime

·       Chief Constable’s contract extended

Royal Marines to lose 200 posts for carrier staffing crisis

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Royal Marines are to lose 200 posts in an efforts to prevent a staffing crisis on the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carriers. The deal, agreed by the Royal Navy last week, will see the 200 posts transferred from the Marines to the carriers, for which the Navy has struggled to find enough sailors. Whitehall sources have suggested the change will not cause redundancies but will be involve Marines reaching the end of their time in the Armed Forces, with approximately half the posts likely to be taken from back office functions.

The Royal Marines has previously been the subject of concerns that they could lose up to 2,000 personnel from their current headcount of 7,000 as the MoD attempts to find £10 billion in financial efficiencies. Changes to the Royal Marines will also see 42 Commando forming a specialised marine operations unit.

As noted previously, there is currently no suggestion that changes to the Royal Marines will impact upon Fleet Protection. However, the announcement is indicative of the continuing demands on MoD finances and its efforts to find savings.

Army cuts threaten battlefield training

The Times reports that it has learned from sources in the Army that a military exercise is under threat from what has been described as a defence funding crisis. The exercise would help prepare British forces to combat an adversary such as Russia, and has been scheduled to take place in Canada. However, budget pressures on the MoD have resulted in a reduced number of troops being expected to take part in the exercise.

The report claims that the Armed Forces are struggling to identify a minimum of £1 billion in savings per year in an effort to close the gap in the MoD finances. Some estimates have indicated the MoD could face a funding shortfall of £10 billion until 2027, and others say the funding gap could be in excess of £20 billion. Senior Army sources have claimed that the only method of saving money they have at their disposal is cutbacks on training.

A spokesman for the MoD said no final decisions have been taken in relation to the exercise in Canada, while also reiterating that the UK has the largest defence budget in Europe.

Unfortunately, the news story has been reported exclusively by The Times, meaning it has been impossible to direct members to a news site without a paywall. With our apologies, owing to copyright rules we are unable to make the full article available to members, although any members with a subscription to The Times will be able to access the full content.

News of the threat to Army training is indicative of the financial pressures the MoD is facing, particularly considering its major procurement projects, notably the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers. There could be significant pressure put on the MoD and wider government to protect funding for this exercise specifically given increasing tensions with Russia. However, the scale of the MoD budget shortfall means the Department will continue to pursue financial savings, and given the current geopolitical situation there will likely be renewed pressure to avoid cuts to the Armed Forces. This will continue to make budgets such as the MDP’s vulnerable, and the Federation will continue to highlight the importance of the MDP in parliamentary and media engagement.

Carillion wins £200m MoD contract

City AM reports that support services contractor Carillion has announced its joint venture has been awarded a contract by the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) that could be worth up to £200 million.

Carillion has been appointed to build ‘soft’ facilities management services for 87 defence sites across the South East and Greater London. The company, which maintains British roads, railways and military bases, is expected to build facilities including catering retail, leisure, hotel and mess services at the MoD establishments. Carillion has claimed the contract will create further opportunities to demonstrate its commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant by providing employment opportunities for ex-services personnel.

Details of the establishments Carillion will be working at have not been published as part of its announcement, but these could include sites guarded by the MDP.

New figures reveal surge in violent crime

Newly published figures from the Metropolitan Police have revealed a sharp jump in recorded violent crimes, with increases in assaults, sex offences, robberies, and a 42 percent increase in reported gun crime. Knife crime also rose by 24 percent, with the Metropolitan Police citing reductions in its resources and increased demands on officers as reasons for the figures.

Scotland Yard has suggested increases in violent crimes within London are being replicated across the UK despite years of decline in rates of gun and knife crime. The figures have prompted criticism of senior officers for ‘ignoring the basics.’ Former police officers have cited reductions in ‘stop and search’ as contributing to increases in violent crime, and have also highlighted what they have described as mis-spent resources by the Metropolitan Police, which has spent significantly on investigations into journalist sources and phone hacking. An official report published by HM Inspector of Constabulary has also suggested the Metropolitan Police’s approach to dealing with serious and organised crime is “not as effective as it could be.”

Chief Constable’s contract extended

Mike Griffith, Chief Constable of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC), has had his contract extended for a further two years, following a recommendation from the Civil Nuclear Police Authority Senior Appointments Committee and approval from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Minister, Jesse Norman MP. The Chief Constable position usually runs for a five-year term, with Griffith’s contract due to expire in September 2017, but the post was in part extended “due to the ongoing Infrastructure Policing programme and several other large projects that are close to fruition.” Griffith joined the CNC in 2012 following a 30-year career in the Army.

The extension of the Chief Constable’s contract is indicative of government desires to see closer working between infrastructure police forces that include the MDP. However, as the Federation has previously reported, work towards a merger Infrastructure Police Force has been shelved by ministers focused on negotiations and legislative issues relating to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.               

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