The past month has seen the return of MPs and members of the House of Lords to Westminster following an extended period away, encompassing the summer parliamentary recess and the annual political party conferences.
Since their return, the Federation has been working to confirm meetings with a series of backbench MPs with MDP complements located in their constituencies. Further details of these activities are outlined below, but the purpose of securing these meetings is to underline to MPs the importance of the MDP and to ensure they are vigorously campaigning for the retention of officers in their constituencies.
We’ve also fielded a series of enquiries from journalists at the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail and other national news outlets regarding the Government’s review of infrastructure policing. This follows a report published in the Financial Times outlining plans for an infrastructure police force potentially encompassing the MDP, Civil Nuclear Constabulary and British Transport Police.
The Federation is aware that a review is being undertaken that involves a range of government departments – and previously led meetings between civil servants and the relevant Federations to get indications as to the Government’s line of thinking. However, we are yet to be given any indications as to the Government’s preferences, and consequently have not provided comment to journalists without any understanding as to how any changes might be implemented.
We are, however, confirming meetings with a number of defence and crime correspondents to brief them on other issues related to the MDP.
Outside of the Federation’s activities during the past month, the Government has announced new funding to tackle cybercrime and the threat of cyberattacks, following concerns that the UK could be vulnerable to terrorist or state-sponsored attacks. Parliament has also appointed Yvette Cooper MP as the new Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, which oversees the work of the Home Office, including police constabularies. Her appointment was made after the former Chairman, Keith Vaz MP, stood down following a series of allegations in the media regarding his private life. Mr Vaz has since successfully stood for a position on the Justice Select Committee that, amongst other topics, will consider the Government’s plans for prison reform.
Inevitably the headlines have also largely been dominated by two topics: Brexit and the US election. The latter takes place on 8 November, with the outcome likely to affect British foreign and military policy – although neither candidate has given significant detail on their policy priorities.
The Government has also continued to make preparations for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, with the announcement the Prime Minister plans to trigger Article 50 (signalling the commencement of formal negotiations with the EU) by March 2017. However, a High Court ruling in recent days has concluded the Government must seek a parliamentary vote prior to triggering Article 50 – although the Government plans to appeal the decision.
Promoting local activities
Further information will be circulated shortly via Area Secretaries, but we would ask that any members involved in local community work or charity activities that they’d like to promote in their local media please let us know so the Federation can offer support.
This would be in the form of helping to raise awareness of what you’re doing within your local media. This could be in terms of charity fundraising and events, or MDP-related initiatives that engage members of your local community.
Promoting these activities will both raise their profile, and will highlight the importance of the MDP within local communities.
If you’ve anything you would like help promoting, please contact email@example.com.
The political approach
As noted above, the Federation is currently working to confirm a series of meetings with front and backbench MPs.
These include the newly appointed Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith MP and her team; Jamie Reed MP to discuss the issue of members’ pensions; and Richard Benyon, the MP for Newbury.
We are also updating longstanding supporters, including members of the Defence Select Committee, on the MoD’s review of security at establishments. This is to champion the importance of the MDP to ensuring that security, in order to challenge any consideration of a removal of complements as was suggested in The Times (in relation to Whitehall) over the summer.
We will of course keep members updated on the outcomes of these meetings, but will be encouraging MPs to write to the MoD ministerial team to highlight the importance of the MDP to their local communities.
The Federation is currently working to confirm meetings with The Times, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph – having been contacted by journalists from the national press regarding suggestions related to the Government’s review of infrastructure policing.
The Federation was asked for comment having built contacts with these senior journalists, many of whom reported the Federation’s annual conference earlier in the year.
While we did not have the information necessary to comment at the time on the Government’s infrastructure policing review, the Federation certainly reserves the right to do so in the future – and will be highlighting to senior journalists the need for MDP officers to be retained at establishments around the UK.
Local lobbying / external communications
As a reminder, if any member needs to contact their local MP for any reason, their communications are subject to MDP regulations. Please let us know if you need advice or support.