Trident nuclear submarine sites are at risk from terrorists due to an «exodus» of MoD Police, the Federation Chief warns.
Budget cuts mean an attack on Britain’s nuclear submarine base is a case of “when not if,” Eamon Keating will say in a speech today.
Continued cuts to the force could lead to the nation’s safety being compromised as budget cuts have left it “working beyond its means”
Cost cutting is being prioritised over safety and many officers feel “unwanted and devalued” such that the the force has shrunk by 30% since 2010.
Previous assurances from the Defence Secretary that security would not be compromised by savings targets were “just words” and the Federation feels ignored by the MoD.
The National Chairman of the Defence Police Federation, the staff association representing civilian MoD Police officers, will today call on ministers to halt cuts to the force.
“Capability must start at home,” he will tell his annual conference in Stansted, and overlooking the security of critical assets and sites in the UK would make the MoD vulnerable to attack. Mr Keating will call on the Defence Secretary to include MoD Police in the forthcoming Modernising Defence Programme, due to report this summer.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Keating said the current position of the MoD Police was “horrendous” and that the attack on Westminster Bridge last year in which PC Keith Palmer, a serving Metropolitan Police officer, was killed, showed that “high profile attacks on highly protected sites” are a very real possibility.
From a budget of almost £150 million the MoD Police have this year been told to find savings of £12.5 million. With no infrastructure and little equipment, Mr Keating says these savings have to come directly from front line officers. 160 posts will be lost, equating to almost 400,000 man hours per year.
The Federation Chairman will argue that security of domestic bases and high-value assets including the new aircraft carriers and Trident nuclear bases must be given additional priority and resources.
The MoD Police is the second largest firearms contingent in the country, after the Metropolitan Police. “We often have more armed officers in some stations than the rest of that entire county force,” he says. But the combined effect of savings measures and changes to terms of service for MoD Police has left him “petrified” of the impact on national security. “Eventually someone will take a chance at one of our sites,” he fears.
“We are witnessing ..an exodus from our Force. It breaks my heart to say it, but I cannot blame those who are going,” Mr Keating will say. “I can honestly say that I am amazed more are not going.”
Of particular concern is the disparity between the MoD Police and other forces regarding pension rights and fitness requirements. “Pride can only go so far,” Mr Keating said, and the Federation has always tried to offer solutions, but the MoD is “trying to buy a police service on the cheap”.
The MoD Police provide security at military bases across the entire armed forces. They regularly deploy overseas and have assisted the military on operational deployments including in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans. MoD Police ran the Kabul Police Training Centre and trained the Kosovo Police Service.
As all MoD Police officers are firearms trained they are regularly used in situations where regular police assistance could not be provided. In addition to tazers and batons, all personnel are trained to fire Glock and Sig Sauer pistols, MP5 sub-machine guns and sniper rifles.
An MoD Spokesman said: “The MoD Police has enough resources to meet its operational requirements. The number of officers has increased over the last five years and we will employ a further 200 officers in the near future”.
“The MoD Police does vital work to protect key sites around the UK and discussions are currently underway on the issue of pay parity. We would never implement changes to our security arrangements that would put the safety and security of our people and assets at risk.”