The past week’s main security defence news has been the DPF Annual Conference, which was this year held near Stansted Airport. The Times, Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Sky News, The Guardian, Metro, Plymouth Herald and Police Professional all carried reports of the keynote speech by Federation Chairman Eamon Keating. He was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live.
Mr Keating told the conference that plans to compel the force to make £12.5million of savings could be “catastrophic”, and that planned budget cuts to the force are “frightening” at a time of heightened security concerns. He explained that it is current planned to find some of these savings through ‘resetting’ the MDP’s complement strength to below 2,300 officers – effectively a real-terms cut in the size of the MDP workforce. Mr Keating said: “After a decade of budget and personnel cuts, it beggars belief the MoD would demand a further £12.5million from the police force entrusted with guarding Trident. And it’s simply unacceptable for the MoD Police leadership to find this saving by shifting the goalposts and imposing a real-terms cut in our number of officers.” He added “If this reset goes forward in order to meet an arbitrarily imposed saving set by the department on our force, then security will be reduced, the risk to terrorist or criminal attack will be increased, and the safety of those we protect – both within the department and with the nation as a whole – will be put at risk”.”
The National Chairman also expressed concern at the imposition of Home Office fitness standards on the MoD police and demanded Government action to change the retirement age of officers currently expected to work into their mid-60s, stating: “The Government must urgently rethink this catastrophic decision that further undermines police officers hamstrung by fitness tests inappropriate to the job they do, and a pension age different to the Home Office and Armed Forces.” Additionally, he said that the Federation wanted further details of the ‘Infrastructure Policing Force’ set out in the Conservative manifesto, which would see the merger of the MDP, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and British Transport Police. Although Mr Keating said that the DPF was not opposed in principle to its formation, it requires further information on the rationale for such proposals and their benefit in order to be supportive.
Responding, an MoD spokesman said of the MDP: “We are confident that the strength of our force keeps our people, sites and equipment safe”, adding “It also enables us to play our part in protecting the public, as we did when we supported the armed police response to the tragic events in Manchester last month.”
Speaking at the conference following Mr Keating’s speech, Deputy Chief Constable of the MDP Andrew Adams said that the MDP had done a “fantastic job” on Operation Temperer. However, he also highlighted challenges, including funding constraints. On the plan for an Infrastructure Police force, he said that it was vital the MDP was a leader in the process.
The extensive coverage of the DPF conference and the chairman’s speech reflects a heightened awareness of armed policing amongst the public, and comes in the wake of criticism of the Government over post-2010 cuts to firearms officer numbers. The Federation will continue to work through the media to highlight the challenges facing the MDP, and to pressure the Government to provide the necessary resources to sustain the force, as well as appropriate pay and conditions. With Parliament set to resume next week after the Queen’s Speech, we will also be contacting existing supporters to ensure the issues of security and cuts to the MDP is subject to parliamentary scrutiny.
· Election results in hung parliament
· Reshuffle at the Ministry of Defence and Home Office
· MoD highlights work of MDP
· Police Federation call for “proper reinvestment” in force
· Further arrest following London Bridge terrorist attack
· Solider dies in training accident
· Claim that gun owners ‘could help fight terrorist attacks’
· MDP rescue drunk man from river – twice
Election results in hung parliament
Following last week’s vote, the UK now has its second hung parliament in seven years. The Conservatives have won 318 seats, representing 42.4% of the vote, leaving them eight seats short of a majority and reducing their seat count from before the election. Labour has defied the majority of polls to gain 30 seats, ending on 262 seats and 40% of the vote; and the SNP, Liberal Democrats and DUP have 35, 12 and 10 seats respectively.
Despite initial calls for Theresa May to resign following her failure to gain a majority of seats in an election she was expected to easily win, the Conservatives have rallied around the Prime Minister. However, the price the Cabinet reportedly demanded for this was the sacking of her two key aides, and a decentralisation of her leadership. As a result, Mrs May’s joint chiefs-of-staff Timothy and Fiona Hill have resigned. The pair had been widely blamed for leading the Conservative campaign off a cliff edge though poor strategy and a disastrous manifesto, and were also widely personally disliked by ministers and civil servants. On Sunday, Damian Green was appointed as First Secretary of State – essentially a Deputy PM in all but name. Mr Green moved from his previous role as Work and Pensions Secretary.
All eyes are now on the ongoing negotiations between the Conservatives and Northern Ireland’s DUP. Mrs May will need the support of the latter to sustain a majority of seats. The two parties will not enter into a formal coalition. Instead, a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement is expected, meaning that the DUP will support the Government in confidence and budget votes. In return, the DUP would be given government support for specific policy priorities. The Queen’s Speech had been expected to go ahead on Monday 19th June, but will now go ahead on Wednesday 21st June,
The full policy implications of the election outcome are not yet clear. The DUP are very much pro-military, and if anything the Conservative dependence on their presence makes it difficult to imagine cuts to the Armed Forces. However, the Government may find itself challenged to implement its manifesto – and it also worth noting that many within the Conservative Party have expressed reservations about a deal with the DUP (Sir John Major has questioned the implications for the Northern Ireland peace process). Already, Brexit Secretary David Davis has said saying that he expects the Conservative manifesto to be “pruned” after the Party failed to win a majority. The hung parliament, coupled with the need for primary legislation, means there will be some challenges for ministers should they pursue the commitment to a national infrastructure police force as set out in the Conservative manifesto.
With the election now over, we will engage with our existing parliamentary supporters and reach to new MPs to ensure that the Government is held to account over handling of the MDP. Most of the DPF’s key supports have retained their seats, including Dr Julian Lewis MP, who is expected to be reappointed as chair of the Defence Select Committee. We plan to write to the Defence and Home Affairs Select Committees once they are reconstituted.
Reshuffle at the Ministry of Defence and Home Office
Whilst the Conservatives continue to negotiate with the DUP, there have been reshuffles at both the MoD and the Home Office. The MoD team is now structured as follows:
- Rt Hon Sir Michael Fallon MP – Secretary of State for Defence
- Mark Lancaster TD MP – Minister of State for Defence
- Tobias Ellwood MP – Under Secretary of State for Defence (NEW)
- Harriett Baldwin MP – Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence Procurement
- Lord Howe – Minister of State for Defence (Deputy Leader of the House of Lords)
The exact titles of Mr Lancaster and Mr Ellwood have yet to be released. However, it has been reported that Mr Lancaster has been promoted to Armed Forces Minster, replacing Mike Penning. If this is the case, Tobias Ellwood will likely be taking over from Mr Lancaster as Under Secretary of State and Minister for Defence Veterans, Reserves and Personnel, and as the minister responsible for the MDP. Mr Ellwood was elected to Parliament in 2005 as MP for Bournemouth East and served as a junior minister in the Foreign Office from 2014-16. He is a veteran of the Armed Forces and served in the Royal Green Jackets from 1991 to 1996. Notably, Mr Ellwood attempted to provide first aid and resuscitate PC Keith Palmer following the recent terrorist attack in Westminster
Additionally, there have been changes at the Home Office, with the new ministerial team being as follows:
- Rt Hon Amber Rudd MP – Secretary of State for the Home Department
- Nick Hurd – Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service (NEW)
- Ben Wallace – Minister of State for Security
- Baroness Williams of Trafford – Minister of State
- Baroness Shields – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Internet Safety and Security
- Brandon Lewis MP – Minister of State for Immigration
We are awaiting confirmation of who will become Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism.
Nick Hurd replaces Brandon Lewis as Police and Fire Service Minister. Before his appointment, Mr Hurd was Minister for Climate Change and Industry. A former banker and businessman, he was elected in 2005, and currently holds the seat of Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner. A firm Eurosceptic, he has no background in policing matters.
We anticipate that it will be revealed which minister will hold responsibility for the MDP next week. We will then move forward to engage with the new minister to ensure that they are briefed on the vital role of the MDP, and the challenges the force faces. We will also re-engage with Labour Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith, who looks set to remain in post as part of a very limited reshuffle by Jeremy Corbyn.
MoD highlights work of MDP
The MoD website has carried coverage highlighting the MDP’s contribution to the recent activation of Operation Temperer. The article, entitled ‘Keeping the nation safe: Ministry of Defence Police rise to the challenge’, notes that MDP deployments involved close co-operation with the various Home Office Police Forces that had requested support, and saw officers support eight police forces across England and Wales. This number increased to 18 over the Bank Holiday weekend, with up to a quarter of the Force’s total strength of Authorised Firearms Officers deployed to provide reassurance to the public. The MDP also provided armed officers to support British Transport Police.
MDP Deputy Chief Constable Andy Adams is noted as commenting: “The MoD response to Operation Temperer has been impressive and I know that the wider department will be expressing their own support for what their colleagues have been doing. I would like to take the opportunity to recognise the important role MDP officers and staff undertake through our dual focus at times like this: our role within the MoD and that of delivering a policing service which can be called upon outside of the department.” He added “There has been an enthusiastic approach to ‘getting the job done’ and I, for one, am extremely grateful for the commitment of everyone involved.”
Police Federation call for “proper reinvestment” in force
Police Professional reports that the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) demand “proper re-investment” from Theresa May’s minority government in delivering better protection to public and officers alike – after safety and security took centre stage in the general election. Post-Manchester and London, staff associations want the Prime Minister to put “her money where her mouth is” to halt the continued jeopardising of community policing.
Within hours of new Policing Minister Nick Hurd’s appointment, PFEW chair Steve White called for face-to-face talks on a new agenda for supporting officers with the “right equipment, legislation, and improved pay and conditions”. West Midlands Police Federation JJB interim chair Tom Cuddeford urged Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who clung on to her seat as MP for Hastings and Rye and escaped Mrs May’s Cabinet reshuffle, to get behind policing. He said: “The Home Secretary addressed the Police Federation conference in Birmingham last month and heard officers’ accounts of the reality of policing”, adding ““It is time she showed officers her support and argued our case for increased funding, for the benefit of policing but also for the benefit of the communities we serve.”
It is widely believed that following the failure of the Conservatives to obtain a majority, there will be an easing back on austerity. However, it seems likely that – at least in the short term – any new money will be directed towards health, social care and education services.
Further arrest following London Bridge terrorist attack
The Guardian reports that a 19-year-old man is being held on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts following a raid at an address in Barking, east London, at 9.50pm on Sunday, Scotland Yard said, bringing total arrests in the investigation to 21. Seven men are now in custody in connection with the London Bridge attack. Inquests into the eight deaths opened at Southwark coroner’s court on Tuesday.
The investigation has revealed that the three killers behind the attack tried to hire a 7.5-tonne lorry on the morning of the atrocity and officers believe they have identified a flat above a Paddy Power in Barking Road, rented since April by Redouane, which was used as a safe house where they prepared their attack. Police have also released images of the terrorists’ fake suicide belts.
Meanwhile, the BBC reports that the Westminster and London Bridge attacks in London put a “lot of stretch” on the Metropolitan Police, its second in command has said. Deputy Commissioner Craig Mackay said officers had to work “incredibly hard” to cope. He added that the Force had the resources to manage, but if there were more terror attacks, it would need more funds. In the last four years, the Met has had to make £600m of savings and is due to face a £400m cut in the next four years.
Solider dies in training accident
The Daily Telegraph reports that a soldier from the Royal Tank Regiment has died and three others have been wounded after an explosion during a live fire exercise in South Wales. The unnamed soldier died after ammunition is thought to have exploded inside a tank at Castlemartin Ranges in Pembrokeshire. The MoD immediately launched an investigation into the incident on Wednesday afternoon.
Newly appointed defence minister Tobias Ellwood said: “It is with deep sadness that I can confirm the death of a soldier from the Royal Tank Regiment who died as a result of injuries sustained in an incident at Castlemartin Ranges”. He added “His next of kin were by his bedside and we will be respecting their privacy before further details are released. Three other soldiers have also been wounded and our thoughts remain with the friends and families of all those involved.”
Claim that gun owners ‘could help fight terrorist attacks’
The Guardian reports that a police commissioner has caused alarm among rank and file officers by suggesting that members of the public who own guns could help defend rural areas against terror attacks. Alison Hernandez, the Devon and Cornwall police and crime commissioner, said she was interested in having a conversation with the chief constable about whether ordinary people with gun licences could assist in a terrorist crisis.
The comments have caused alarm within the force and prompted a stern warning from a senior officer that citizens should not arm themselves. The official response came swiftly from the deputy chief constable, Paul Netherton, who said: “Quite obviously, a marauding terrorist is the most challenging of circumstances. The police response requires significant professionalism and training as well as firearms capability”. He added ““Under no circumstances would we want members of the public to arm themselves with firearms, not least because officers responding would not know who the offenders were”.
MDP rescue drunk man from river – twice
The Daily Mirror reports that rescuers had to save a man so intoxicated that he needed pulling out of a river twice. The man, who was described by police as “extremely drunk”, was first pulled from the River Tamar, which runs along the border of Devon and Cornwall, in the early hours of Sunday. It is believed the man had tried to swim across the river but got stuck “up to his neck in the water” and police were called. An MDP launch was called in to assist as Devon and Cornwall Police officers raced to the scene. He was eventually hauled into the small boat by MDP and taken ashore. But just after his first rescue, the man evaded the officers and jumped back into the water. He was finally brought back to shore a second time before being handcuffed and led away to a waiting police van.