Defence Police Federation chairman Eamon Keating has warned that cuts have jeopardised security at the Faslane and other MoD sites.
In an open letter to new Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Keating has warned that security at MoD sites around the country is falling below acceptable and agreed level as a consequence of demands for savings on its civilian police force.
“Dear Mr Williamson,
I write as National Chairman of the Defence Police Federation sadly not to welcome you to the MoD and express my congratulations at your appointment, and those of the Ministry of Police officers represented by the Federation.
Instead, I must highlight the deeply concerning, and in many cases deplorable decision making that is leaving many of the UK’s critical military assets and sites at unacceptable risk of attack on our own shores.
Despite the role of the Ministry of Defence Police providing the armed security that protects assets such as the Trident nuclear deterrent, munitions sites, and HMS Queen Elizabeth while in port, it is facing budget cuts that can only be realised by reducing its number of officers. This is leaving MoD sites around the UK at serious risk, and well below agreed and acceptable levels of security and at the level of maximum risk on a daily basis.
The tragic and cowardly terrorist attacks of the last 12 months have demonstrated not only an appetite and ability for destruction amongst those who threaten our society, but also a willingness to target our most secure locations as in the case of
the attack on the Palace of Westminster. We must assume that our military establishments and assets are under threat in a way we have arguably not seen in recent generations. Yet despite this risk, decisions are being taken by MoD officials – and implemented by, among others, the senior officers of the MoD Police – that prioritise the pursuit of financial savings over the threat to our assets.
It is perhaps only a matter of time before an MoD establishment in the UK faces attack, and the reality is that continued and pernicious reductions in the capacity of the MoD Police leave it ill-equipped and understaffed to deal with such a situation.
The MoD Police faces a further reduction of 15 percent of its workforce in order to meet a demand for savings this financial year. Further financial demands will mean even fewer officers. The reduced presence of officers has been met with alarm, and
in some cases been flatly rejected, by MoD sites around the country.
Yet despite their calls for more police not less, the demands for budget reductions continue. And this has broader implications for public safety. The MoD Police is the second largest armed police contingent in the country, with more firearms officers than every constabulary in England, bar the Metropolitan Police, combined. Our officers effectively form a national firearms policing capacity,
one that is rapidly being eroded at the cost of public safety.
This Federation has sought to highlight its concerns privately to officials to no avail. We believe we would be failing in our duty to the MoD, to the Government, and to the public, by not highlighting the disturbing and increasing level of risk to our
establishments and critical defensive assets.
We urge you to consider the security levels of the MoD estate, and to ensure the decisions taken on that security are based first and foremost on the threat to them, and not on whether there are savings to be made.”