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Parliamentary Report w/c 31st March

By DPF Admin8th April 2014August 6th, 2019Area Updates, Latest News, Northern Updates, Southern Updates

The annual report by the HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Tom Winsor into policing in England and Wales has said the force has been “damaged but not broken” by recent scandals. HMIC Tom Winsor said scandals had damaged public confidence in the police and the morale of honest, hardworking officers. In his annual report to Parliament, he said it was the responsibility of chief constables to address the damage. The report was published as fresh inquests into the Hillsborough disaster opened in Warrington.

The Defence Secretary has announced that the final deployment of British combat troops to Afghanistan will take place in June this year. Philip Hammond said that the deployment will be the final phase of Operation Herrick, with combat operations to end by December 31 2014. Included in the deployment will be the Royal Engineers, signal regiments and Royal Military Police. The announcement comes as Task Force Helmand, the UK’s military HQ in Afghanistan, was disbanded in the latest major step in the drawdown of troops.

Contents

  • Answers to written questions on service police
  • Defence Reform Bill passes third reading in House of Lords
  • Legal action against Armed Forces could potential impact military effectiveness
  • RUSI warns that Scotland and rest of UK at greater risk to security threats if separated
  • Defence Secretary dismisses claims by generals over spending cuts

Answers to written questions on service police

  • Labour MP Madeline Moon asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many service police there were in each branch of the armed forces and  the Special Investigations Branch in the last year for which data is available; how many such police have received specialist training in the investigation of sexual offences; and if he will make a statement.

Defence Minister Anna Soubry provided a table which showed the number of naval service police, Army Royal Military Police and Royal Air Force Police in the Armed Forces and the number of personnel in each of the Special Investigation Branches (SIB), as of 1 February 2014.

Ms Soubry said that all service police undertake training at the Defence College of Policing and Guarding (DCPG). This includes general training in the form of the Initial Military Police Training Course, undertaken by personnel at the start of their careers; the Volume Crime Investigation Course, undertaken by personnel who have served for three-four years; and the Serious Crime Investigation Course, which all members of the SIB must pass before joining. Soubry said that, in addition, selected service police attend a range of specialist and advanced detective training at the DCPG and external, nationally recognised training providers.

Soubry said the Service police also attend training primarily designed to cover the investigation of sexual offences and provided a table which showed the numbers of service police who have attended these courses.

Defence Reform Bill passes third reading in House of Lords

The Defence Reform Bill has cleared the House of Lords after peers approved the legislation at third reading on 2 April 2014. The Bill establishes the arrangements for reforming Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) and turning it into a GoCo. Although the Government have decided not to proceed with GoCo for the timebeing, the relevant enabling legislation has been put forward as part of this bill.

During the third reading, peers agreed to a government amendment which requires the Defence Secretary to report to Parliament on the options for carrying out defence procurement. The amendment was brought forward in response to previous discussions about the need for parliamentary oversight and scrutiny of any decision to proceed with a government-owned, contractor-operated organisation (GOCO).

The Bill also contains several measures designed to boost recruitment to the Reserve Forces, as the Government pursues its plan to cut the number of regular soldiers to 82,000 and double the number of reservists to 30,000 by 2020.

The Bill will now be sent back to the House of Commons for consideration of amendments by the House of Lords; if the Commons approves the amendments the Bill will become law.

RUSI warns that Scotland and rest of UK at greater risk to security threats if separated

The Financial Times reports on a Royal United Services Institute report which warns that independent Scotland is at risk at becoming a “back door” into the UK for terrorists and foreign spies. The report says that a slimmed down security service could force large Scottish businesses to relocate south in order to be protected from cyber-attacks. According to the think tank, while an independent Scotland would face a significantly lower threat from terrorism than the remainder of the UK, Holyrood’s current proposals for a slender security and intelligence spend posed a host of other risks and assumed a far greater level of co-operation with Westminster than would be forthcoming.

RUSI also highlighted that separation from the rest of the UK is likely to lead to tougher border controls, and could result in large Scottish businesses relocating in order to be protected from cyber-attack by GCHQ. The FT says the Scottish Government’s intelligence and security proposals have avoided extensive discussion. A spokesperson for Kenny MacAskill, the Scottish Justice Secretary, said it would be “in the UK’s interest” to co-operate on security with an independent Scotland, which would have “first-class” intelligence agencies.

Defence Committee claims that legal action against Armed Forces could potentially impact military effectiveness

The Defence Select Committee has published a report which warns that legal action against Britain’s Armed Forces arising from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may impact on their ability their fight effectively. The report says that changes in the law allowing soldiers or their families to sue for negligence have made senior officers wary of later scrutiny in the courts. The report says that the unintended consequence could be commanders taking fewer risks with their own troops and using air support or remote weapons, which could potentially inflict greater damage and civilian casualties. A decision by the Supreme Court last June challenged the principle of “combat immunity” by ruling that the MOD had a duty of care to soldiers in battle.

Defence Secretary dismisses claims by generals over spending cuts

The Daily Mail reports that Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has accused top generals of talking “nonsense” following a fresh warning that spending cuts are weakening the Armed Forces. General Sir Richard Shirreff warned that ministers were taking “one hell of a risk” by replacing thousands of regular troops with part-time reservists. Sir Richard is the outgoing deputy commander of NATO and said a series of cuts had left the Armed Forces “hollowed out”. He said the Royal Navy had been “cut to the bone” leaving it unable to take part in some NATO operations. 

Sir Richard’s intervention is the latest in a series of warnings from senior military figures, both in this country and abroad. Mr Hammond insisted that the criticism was unfounded; pointing out that Britain still had the fourth largest defence budget in the world. He also revealed that British forces will be deployed on NATO war games in the Baltic states to help ward off the threat posed by Russia in the wake of the Ukraine crisis. Hammond said most of what he was hearing from senior military figures was “nonsense”.

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