This week Parliament rose for Summer Recess, Parliamentary business will not resume until 1 September when the House of Commons returns. The House of Lords will not return until 13 October, to allow for the Scottish Referendum and party conference season.
The Army’s two top generals have warned that going to war in today’s world is far more complicated than 100 years ago. General Sir Peter Wall, the current chief of the general staff, compared events in Ukraine and the problems for NATO nations with the previous time there was a potential for confrontation with Russia. General Wall said that arriving at a consensus for when it was appropriate to use ‘hard’ power was “getting more complicated”. The Times reports that the comments were made during a day-long conference, held by the Royal United Services Institute in partnership with the Army as part of a series of events.
· Theresa May announces reviews on police disciplinary process and safeguards for whistleblowers
· Answers to written questions
· Police watchdog warns of police shortages in rural forces
· UK tells France to halt sale of warships to Russia
· Committee on Arms Export Controls urges tighter British controls on weapons sales
Theresa May announces reviews on police disciplinary process and safeguards for whistleblowers
The Home Secretary, Theresa May, gave a statement to the House of Commons this week regarding the ongoing work of the Home Office to improve the standards of integrity in the police. She highlighted that over the past 18 months the Government has been implementing a series of changes to improve standards of police integrity, and mentioned specific changes the Department has made. May announced that the Home Office will be reviewing the whole police disciplinary system ‘from beginning to end’. This review will be chaired by former Army officer Major-General Clive Chapman.
May said she wanted the review to draw on best practice from the private and public sectors and has asked Major-General Chapman to look for ways to ensure that the disciplinary system is clearer, more independent and public-focused. She said she intended to consult publicly on the policies that emerge from the review later this year. In addition to the review, May said the Home Office will make specific changes to the police disciplinary system, with hearings to be held in public to improve transparency and justice. A public consultation will also be launched on these proposals, later this year.
May went on to announce the follow up actions to the Ellison Review on police whistleblowers, which will conclude later this year. She said that following the publication of the HMIC’s integrity inspection, she will consider putting the whistleblowers’ code on a statutory basis. The Home Office will also require constabularies to publish more information on the number of conduct issues raised by officers and the action taken as a result. May said that from 2015 onwards, the Home Office will collect and publish data about conduct and complaints brought by police officers and police staff about their colleagues. She said that in the autumn the Home Office will launch a public consultation on police whistleblowing, which will look at a range of new proposals to protect police whistleblowers.
Furthermore, May said that following HMIC’s review of-anti-corruption capability in police forces, HMIC is also carrying out an inspection of police integrity as part of its planned programme of inspections for 2014-15. She announced that she had agreed with the Chief Inspector of HMIC that HMIC’s new programme of annual inspections of all police forces, which will begin later this year, will not only at a force’s effectiveness and efficiency but its legitimacy in the eyes of the public. Every annual inspection will therefore include an examination of whether each force’s officers and staff act with integrity.
We will liaise regarding the need to make a submission to the planned consultations.
Answers to written questions
· Labour MP Sandra Osborne asked the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the cost to the public purse of the removal of Trident from Scotland.
Newly appointed Defence Minister Julian Brazier said the UK Government has no plans to move the strategic nuclear deterrent from HMNB Clyde, and has not considered options for moving the deterrent. He said any alternative solution would come at huge cost to the taxpayer.
· Sandra Osborne asked the Defence Secretary what the annual cost to the public purse is of retaining and basing the nuclear deterrent at Faslane and Coulport.
Defence Minister Philip Dunne said the cost of retaining the nuclear deterrent at Faslane and Coulport cannot be separately identified from expenditure incurred for multiple activities at HMNB Clyde.
Police watchdog warns of police shortages in rural forces
The Times reports that police in some parts of the country may be unable to respond to murders, rapes and rioting if spending continues to be cut over the next five years, the police watchdog has warned. The number of officers on the beat will fall as neighbourhood policing is eroded, a report from the Chief Inspector of Constabulary said, and up to 18 rural forces may no longer be viable because they will have imposed such deep cuts.
Tom Winsor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, warned that without changes to the way policing is funded and organised, forces would be unable to maintain their service to the public. He called for a wide-ranging review. The report also said the 43 forces in England and Wales should be working on the basis that in the next spending round they would have to repeat the £2.5 million savings made over the past five years. A survey carried out for the report said that more than one third of the public reported seeing fewer officers on patrol last year.
Among the 18 forces who could be in jeopardy are the City of London, Wiltshire, Lincolnshire, Dorset and Suffolk. The Times says that Winsor’s comments have been welcomed by police leaders, including Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police officers, who said that there needs to be a considered review of the current force structure.
UK tells France to halt sale of warships to Russia
The Times reports that the UK is trying to put pressure on France to halt the sale of warships to Russia before a critical meeting to determine how Europe responds to the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over Ukraine. The newspaper says the Prime Minister has revealed his “exasperation” with European allies over their reluctance to endorse a much tougher sanctions regime as the Government scaled back its immediate ambitions for today’s gathering of foreign ministers in Brussels.
New restrictions against Russia were announced on Tuesday, targeting individuals and businesses connected with Crimea, including an airline based on the Black Sea peninsula. The UK concedes that it will face an uphill struggle convincing the other EU members to move to a tougher sanctions regime, known as Level 3. This would impose restrictions on gas and oil companies such as Gazprom and Rosneft, which in turn would hurt economies in Eastern Europe, or restrict Russian capital, damaging the City of London.
The new Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, will also support attempts to target associates of President Putin, although little immediate action is expected. French diplomats have acknowledged that Paris could be embarrassed to be seen handing Russia sophisticated command ships if violence continues in eastern Ukraine. However, France, Germany, Italy and Spain all believe it is premature to escalate pressure dramatically, “not least because the effective declaration of economic war on Moscow could rebound with immense damage to Europe”, a French official said.
Committee on Arms Export Controls urges tighter British controls on weapons sales
The Times reports that the UK has granted arm export licences to Russia worth more than £130 million, even though the Prime Minister has said that all such licences have been halted in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. The chairman of a group of MPs that scrutinises British arms exports said he plans to write to David Cameron for clarification over why more than 250 licences for products such as components for pistols, sniper rifles and bullets were still valid.
The Committee on Arms Export Controls has recently published a report that urged tighter British controls on selling weapons to countries such as Russia that might use the equipment to attack its own people. The study also called the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills “irresponsible” for granting licences to export chemicals to Syria that could be used to make sarin gas, and questioned why Bahrain, with a poor track record for human rights, was added to a list of priority countries for arms exports while Canada was removed. The MPs paid particular attention to Russia following events in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. The Committee’s Chair Sir John Stanley MP wrote to Philip Hammond to query a commitment by his predecessor, William Hague that Britain had halted all military exports to Russia that could be used by the military against Ukraine. Sir John said that information given to him in mid-May by the Business Secretary revealed that only 34 out of 285 existing arms export licences to Russia had been stopped since the announcement in March.
The report comes following reports that the Prime Minister is dissatisfied with the stance of other European countries towards Russia. Following this report, David Cameron said he would personally look into the issue of exports to Russia.