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Parliamentary Report w/c 08th December 2014

By DPF Admin18th December 2014August 6th, 2019Area Updates, Latest News, Northern Updates, Southern Updates

This week’s main UK defence news has been the allegations surrounding the poor morale and equipment serviceability of the RAF Tornado force based in Cyprus, which constitutes the core component of the UK’s contribution to the campaign against the Islamic State. According to reports from the BBC, raids against the Sunni radicals are being conducted from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus “with broken jets and tired and fed-up people.” In a letter, a serviceman said the base was being neglected, morale was poor, and ground crews had taken to eating humanitarian rations meant for Iraqis due to poor catering. It is also reported that only 16 of the RAF’s force of 102 Tornados are fully combat ready. However, the situation is less of a revelation than it may first appear. The limited facilities for personnel at RAF Akrotiri have been an issue for decades. In terms of the Tornado force, it should be noted that the RAF is only tasked with having 18 aircraft fully prepared (the Force Elements at Readiness) at any one time, a fact that puts the 16 figure into perspective. With regards to the fight against ISIS itself, the RAF has continued to carry out air strikes despite the reported difficulties being faced.

Also this week, the Sun newspaper’s annual Millie Awards for the Armed Forces took place. The MoD announced that 100 new cadet units in state schools will benefit from £2.3 million of additional funding. And Ukraine purchased 75 Saxon armoured personnel carriers from British Army surplus stocks.


·      West Midlands police officers warned not to wear uniforms during journeys to and from work after terrorist threat

·      Question on MoD security breaches answered in the House of Commons

·      Lack of anti-submarine warfare aircraft forces UK to call for foreign assistance

·      Concerns voiced that further cuts could make Lincolnshire Police unsustainable

·      Former MoD Police Chief Constable suggests merger of all police forces

West Midlands Police Officers warned not to wear uniforms during journeys to and from work after terrorist threat

The Daily Mail reports that more than 7,000 officers in the West Midlands were warned that they were in imminent danger following a telephone threat of an Islamic State-style plot to kidnap and behead an officer. The force has confirmed counter-terror officers are investigating an “anonymous but credible” tip-off. The security services are increasingly concerned at the number of plots aimed at the police, military or Government. They have already uncovered evidence in at least three alleged conspiracies that would have endangered frontline police officers and soldiers. In addition, they have also recovered evidence of suspected extremists monitoring a Territorial Army base and buying knives and Islamic State flags. In October, the threat level to police officers was raised, following an Islamic State video telling followers to take retribution against countries leading the bombing campaign in northern Iraq and Syria.

Question on MoD security breaches answered in the House of Commons

Shadow Defence Minister Kevan Jones MP (North Durham) (Lab) has had his question to the Defence Secretary asking how many security breaches have been recorded by the Ministry of Defence in each year since 2010, and what action has been taken following each such breach, answered by Defence Minister Anna Soubry MP (Broxtowe) (Con).

Ms Soubry responded by providing the following table outlining the number of incidents in each year requested:












Ms Soubry claimed that the apparent increase in incidents is attributable to a progressively increasing readiness to report even minor breaches, not to systematic failings in security protection. She further added that the MoD does not maintain central records of the specific action taken following each of the breaches.

Lack of anti-submarine warfare aircraft forces UK to call for foreign assistance

The Daily Telegraph reports that Britain called in NATO maritime patrol planes to hunt for a suspected Russian submarine off Scotland last month. The UK lacks its own fixed-wing anti-submarine warfare aircraft after the Government scrapped the Nimrod aircraft fleet in the aftermath of the 2010 SDSR. Aircraft from France, America and Canada flew to Scotland to join Royal Navy warships hunting for the suspected submarine after it was spotted at sea, west of Scotland. At the height of the hunt in late November and first days of December, four Allied patrol planes flew to RAF Lossiemouth to join the search.

The search came in the wake of a similar operation near Sweden, where what was suspected to be a Russian mini-submarine was spotted off the country’s coastline. Since the last SDSR, there have been persistent reports that the MoD is considering purchasing a small number of US-built P-8 Poseidon aircraft to replace the scrapped Nimrods. This incident will make the UK’s lack of a fixed-wing anti-submarine warfare aircraft difficult to ignore during SDSR 2015, despite the prospect of further defence cuts.

‘Barefaced lies’ about Iraqi war crimes cost MoD £30m, claims Defence Secretary

The Times reports that the Defence Secretary Michael Fallon MP has claimed that an inquiry into alleged ill-treatment of Iraqis by British soldiers cost taxpayers £30 million to expose what appear to be “barefaced lies”. Speaking ahead of the publication this month of the findings of the four-year Al-Sweady inquiry, he expressed anger over the case and revealed the extent of a growing culture of expensive, war-related litigation against the MoD. Three public inquiries, more than 200 judicial reviews or applications for them, and more than 300 personal injury claims from Iraqi or Afghan nationals have been made as a result of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, costing the government almost £90 million so far, he said.

“These include legitimate cases, but in the last couple of years we have seen the lodging of claims on a virtually industrial scale, most brought many years after the alleged events,” Mr Fallon said in a private speech at the Policy Exchange think-tank. The cost to Britain of legal proceedings related to the Iraq and Afghan wars is £87 million. The majority of this money went on lawyers, according to the Defence Secretary. A further estimated £57 million is being spent over the next four years on special police investigations into reports of other alleged incidents in Iraq.

Concerns voiced that further budget cuts could make Lincolnshire Police unsustainable

The Daily Telegraph reports that one of Britain's largest rural police forces by area of responsibility will effectively become non-operational as a result of projected funding cuts, its Chief Constable has warned. Neil Rhodes, the head of Lincolnshire Police, said that under the current funding arrangements, his force would be “unsustainable” by 2018 and will be the “first in the country to fall”.  In a stark letter to Theresa May MP, the Home Secretary, Mr Rhodes warned that the implications for public safety and security could not be more serious. He said the proposed budget for the coming years would leave a shortfall of £10.4 million, meaning his only option would be to axe a fifth of his front line officers in order to balance the books. Geographically, Lincolnshire is one of the largest forces in the country, covering almost 2,300 square miles. But with few urban conurbations and a relatively low population, the force has one of the smallest staff of all 43 forces in England and Wales. It has already cut the number of officers from 1,220 to 1,100; but Mr Rhodes said the current budget proposals mean a further 236 front line officers will have to go.

Former MoD Police Chief Constable suggests merger of all police forces

The Daily Telegraph has published a letter from Stephen Love, Chief Constable of the MoD Police from 2005 to 2013. Addressing the concerns of the head of Lincolnshire Police which are outlined above, Mr Love proposes that the 43 local forces in England and three more non-Home Office forces be merged. Given the total annual cost of the force runs at roughly £10bn, he believes that if just five per cent could be saved by merging them all, sharing assets and eliminating duplication, this would result in a £500 million saving, or the cost of preserving 10,000 front-line police posts. Mr Love cited the example of Scotland, which saw its eight territorial police forces and the specialist services of the Scottish Police Services Authority, including the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, merge to form Police Scotland in 2013.

A letter from Eamon Keating was submitted to the Daily Telegraph in response to Mr Love’s letter, and highlight the need for police forces (including the MDP) to be properly resourced.


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