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Parliamentary and Political Monitoring Report w/c 17th July 2017

By DPF Admin23rd July 2017August 6th, 2019Area Updates, Latest News, Northern Updates, Southern Updates

The main news this week has been the announcement of an early rise in pension ages. The Guardian reports that Britons born between 1970 and 1978 will have to wait an extra year, until they are 68, to claim their state pension. The decision means the state pension age increasing from 67 to 68 between 2037 and 2039 – seven years earlier than previously planned – to reflect increasing longevity.

Outlining the change, Work and Pension Secretary David Gauke said implementing the proposals would create “fairness across the generations, and the certainty which people need to plan for old age”, and insisted he wanted Britain to be “the best country in the world to grow old”. He added that failing to act “would be irresponsible and place an extremely unfair burden on younger generations”. However, Labour and charities were quick to condemn the plans, with the shadow work and pensions secretary, Debbie Abrahams, describing them as “anything but fair”, and arguing that many pensioners faced a “toxic cocktail” of ill-health long before they reached 68.

The change in state pension age reflects the Government’s approval of the recommendations of a review led by former CBI Director-General John Cridland. While an increase in the state pension age in unsurprising, the DPF will be continuing to press the case for a more appropriate retirement age for the MDP, in line with those for the Armed Forces and Home Office constabularies.

·       Questions on MDP tabled in the House of Commons

·       Questions on Operation Temperer answered in the House of Commons

·       Question on potential police merger answered in the House of Commons

·       MDP officer receives final warning after gun incident

·       MDP officer ‘lost gun overboard boat’

·       MDP officers attend after reports of unexploded bomb

·       Terror plots stopped 'within minutes' of success – Met chief

·       NPCC to review the national armed police response

·       Government delays decision on police pay

·       Warning that police are missing ‘terrorist tip-offs’

·       'Stretched' Met Police force asks retired officers to return

·       Officers honored at Police Awards

·       UK fighter purchase comes under scrutiny

Questions on MDP tabled in the House of Commons

SNP Defence Spokesperson Stewart Malcolm McDonald MP has tabled three  questions on the MDP in the House of Commons, asking the Defense Secretary:

  • What consultations his Department conducted before the decision was taken to reduce the size of the MDP's officer complement; and if he will make a statement.
  • What assessment he has made of the effect of planned reductions to the MDP's officer complement on the security of the defence estate.
  • What recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of MDP recruitment.

These questions were tabled by Mr McDonald shortly after a meeting with DPF National Chairman Eamon Keating, during which they discussed matters of concern to the Federation – most notably the planned reset of the MDP’s officer complement. We have also this week met with Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith and Shadow Defence Minister Gerald Jones, who have agreed to write to Tobias Ellwood – the defence minister responsible for the MDP – to express their concerns.

Whilst Parliament has now adjourned for the summer, we are now moving forward with a programme to engage with additional MPs and peers once business re-commences in September, and will be in contact with parliamentarians as required during the summer.

Questions on Operation Temperer answered in the House of Commons

Former defence minister and Labour MP Kevan Jones asked the Defence Secretary how many personnel from the MoD supported the (a) civilian and (b) military components of Operation Temperer following the activation of that operation on 23rd May 2017. Responding, Armed Forces Minister Mark Lancaster said that there were approximately 1,400 Defence personnel working in direct support of Operation Temperer: of these, 980 were deployed military personnel and 390 were deployed MDP officers, with the remaining military and civilian personnel supporting the HQ elements.

Additionally, Mr Jones asked how many personnel from his Department who supported the (a) civilian and (b) military components of Operation Temperer had leave cancelled during the period of the operation's activation from 23rd May 2017. Responding, Mr Lancaster said that Operation Temperer utilises pre-identified personnel who are held at varying levels of readiness and is designed to limit the impact on personnel. As such, there was no need to cancel any leave during this period of activation.

The questions tabled by Kevan Jones, who the Federation has met previously, highlight the important role played by the MDP in supporting Operation Temperer – a point made to both Stewart McDonald and Nia Griffith/Gerald Jones earlier this week. The Federation remains enormously grateful and proud of members’ contribution to Operation Temperer, including their willingness to work longer hours and cancel leave.

Question on potential police merger answered in the House of Commons

Shadow Equalities Minister Paula Sherriff MP asked the Transport Secretary whether it is his policy for the British Transport Police to be merged with other police forces.

Responding, Rail Minister Paul Maynard MP said that the Government is considering a broad range of options to optimise the protection of critical infrastructure such as nuclear sites and railways, including the future roles of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, the MDP and the British Transport Police.

This response matches that to a similar question last week, and again likely reflects that the Government is still re-developing its policy following the unexpected general election result. The commitment to creating a national infrastructure police force was included in the Conservative manifesto but omitted from the Queen’s Speech. While the Government appears committed to this initiative, our expectation is that other policy priorities – notable Brexit – will take precedence in the coming months. The Federation is, however, monitoring for further developments and highlighting to parliamentary supporters the need for further information on the implications for a merged force.

MDP officer receives final warning after gun incident

Police Professional reports that an MDP officer has received a final written warning after accidentally pushing a loaded machine gun into a colleague’s chest. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) launched an investigation after hearing reports the officer had pointed the muzzle of his MP7 carbine into a colleague’s body armour. The IPCC believed the incident, recorded at the Bamfurlong Gloucestershire Police Armoury last April, had been deliberate and recommended the officer answer a case for gross misconduct. The officer denied intentionally making contact with his colleague and claimed the weapon had touched them by accident while moving in the cramped conditions of the armoury. A disciplinary panel found insufficient evidence that the officer had acted deliberately. However, it added that by failing to show sufficient care and attention his “dangerous” actions amounted to misconduct

MDP officer ‘lost gun overboard boat’

The Plymouth Herald reports that an MDP police officer lost his £1,000 submachine gun after dropping it overboard. The missing Heckler and Koch MP5 – valued at £964.29 – was among 10 weapons lost or stolen from the Armed Forces last year. The MoD refused to say where the incident with the submachine gun happened but confirmed it was “lost at sea”.

In the most serious incident seven weapons – all biathlon rifles – were stolen from an Army vehicles in Sweden.

MDP officers attend after report of unexploded bomb

Kent Live reports that police were called to Westgate-on-Sea after an unexploded wartime bomb was discovered on the beach. They attended the scene in St Mildred's Bay alongside MDP officers on 16th July.

A spokesman from Kent Police said: “Police were called at 2.45pm on Saturday, July 15 to a report of an unexploded wartime device being found on the beach of St Mildred's Bay, Westgate-on-Sea”, adding “Due to the tide times, Kent Police officers and the MOD's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Team attended the beach this morning at 10.30am, however the device was not located”, and that “The area was deemed safe and no risk to the public was identified.”

Terror plots stopped 'within minutes' of success – Met chief

The BBC reports that several terror plots that “were very close to an attack” were thwarted “within minutes” of being carried out, London's most senior police officer has said. Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick told LBC that five terror attacks had been prevented in the last few months. Four terror attacks have taken place in the UK in 2017 – three in the capital.

Ms Dick, who took charge of the Met in February, said the attacks in London and Manchester had been “horrific”. She said a “very large number of plots” have been foiled over the last few years. Ms Dick said she could not reveal details about the nature of the terror plots because arrests had been made, but added: “We've had a huge number of successful operations”, adding “It's well into the teens in the past couple of years, where we know people were intent on attacking”.

NPCC to review the national armed police response

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) has agreed to review police armed response forces in light of recent terrorist attacks. At their latest quarterly meeting, the group discussed the role of armed police and Taser in protecting the public and officers. The NPCC lead for Armed Policing, Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman said: “Chief constables discussed the significant shift in the terror threat to the UK and how we will work with the Government to meet it”. He added “In light of the changing threat, we have agreed to review the armed response across the country looking at the risk to the public and our officers who are first on the scene. We will carefully consider whether there is a need to further increase the number of highly specialist officers working in armed response vehicles, whether some currently unarmed officers in key locations should be armed and more Tasers for front line officers.”

Regardless of the review’s conclusions, it is clear that the need for an armed response capability in the UK has never been greater. Any notable changes to Home Office police posture would take significant time to implement, meaning that the MDP’s ability to rapidly support local constabularies in the event of a major incident will be required for the foreseeable future. As noted above, this is a point made by National Chairman Eamon Keating in meetings this week – a point we continue to make in parliamentary meetings and to media contacts.

Government delays decision on police pay

Police Oracle reports that the Government’s announcement on police pay has been delayed until after the parliamentary summer recess. Confirmation of the remuneration for officers from the following September usually happens in July, but with public sector pay having reportedly caused a rift in the Cabinet in recent weeks, whether the cap remains or not will not be known for several weeks.

Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said the move further inconveniences forces and officers. He added: “At a time when it’s never been more critical to support our police service, this delay does little to enamour officers who already feel undervalued”, and noted “Changes simply do not happen overnight. Forces need time to implement any changes in salary and many won’t now see the benefits until closer to Christmas.”

Warning that police are missing ‘terrorist tip-offs’

The Guardian reports that a former Met Police Commissioner has waded into the political row about the impact of austerity by warning that potential terrorist tip-offs are being missed because of cuts in police numbers. Paul Condon, who headed the Met from 1993 to 2000, said the reduction in the number of frontline officers had left the police close to breaking point. “You can’t take out 20,000 street cops and 20,000 support staff and maintain all the contacts with the community which you give you the leads,” he warned, and stated that the cuts could lead to the police missing vital information about future terrorist attacks.

Sir Paul is the latest senior former police officer to warn that austerity is making the UK more vulnerable to attack. Last month, Robert Quick, who led the counter-terrorism effort from 2008 to 2009, told The Guardian that intelligence from communities about people supporting violent jihad had been lost because of cuts.

'Stretched' Met Police force asks retired officers to return

The BBC reports that retired Met Police officers are being asked to consider a return to work in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire and the London Bridge terror attack. Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackey proposed the plan because he said the Met was experiencing “unprecedented demand” on its detective capacity. In June, he said the Force was stretched and would need more funding to cope with any further terror attacks.

A Met spokesman said: “The Deputy Commissioner has written to retired/ex detective constables and those on career breaks within the last two years and whose personal circumstances may lend themselves to returning to work.”

Officers honored at Police Awards

The Guardian reports that three unarmed officers who tackled a man threatening them with a handgun were honoured for their bravery on Thursday. The officers from the Northumbria force – PCs Michael Otterson and Sarah Currie and Sgt Elliott Richardson – were the overall winners of this year’s Police Bravery awards. Among others nominated were officers who ran into burning buildings, rushed into water, and saved suicidal people from killing themselves. Also honoured were the officers who rugby-tackled the extremist rightwing assassin who shot and stabbed Labour MP Jo Cox to death.

Steve White, chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “We have heard truly astounding feats of bravery, including officers who have saved people from the brink of suicide, tackled offenders armed with knives and guns; and had petrol poured over them with the threat of being set alight.” He added “This year, perhaps more than most, the public realise the threats we face every day and the heroic efforts of our officers, most of which goes unnoticed and unreported.”

UK fighter purchase comes under scrutiny

The Times reports that the MoD is facing hundreds of millions of pounds in “hidden costs” for the RAF's new generation warplane that will be unable to fly properly due to defence cuts. Manufacturer Lockheed Martin has said the aircraft will cost the UK between £77 million and £100 million each. However, The Times said the true cost of the jets delivered this year will be more than £150 million each to cover “extras” such as software upgrades and spare parts. Other issues identified by the newspaper include an inability by the “stealth” F-35 to transmit data to British ships and older aircraft without revealing its position and vulnerable of the aircraft’s software to cyber-attack and cannot be tested independently by the UK.

The MoD said that all the issues raised had been reported in the past and were under “active management” by the Joint Strike Fighter joint programme office and the MoD.

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