1,800 jobs cut under MoD reforms
More than 1,800 defence police and guard officers are to go under reforms announced by the Ministry of Defence.
In a written statement to Parliament, defence personnel minister Andrew Robathan said he regretted the uncertainty and anxiety caused to staff involved but said the Government "can and will" make changes in guarding and civil policing.
Under the measures, the MoD Police is to downsize from a current strength of just under 3,100 to about 2,400 by April 2016. The MoD Guard Service will be cut from just under 3,300 members to about 2,200 by April 2015.
The headquarters and management structures of each organisation will see costs slashed by 50%, said Mr Robathan. This will mean fewer security staff at some sites and a shift to more security being undertaken by staff who do not require police powers. Local police forces will also be utilised more.
Mr Robathan said security would be maintained at all sites with a mixture of further measures due to be examined thoroughly after staff were consulted last year. This includes a "modest increase" in the number of defence sites relying on physical security alone for "part or all of the week".
In other locations, guard numbers could also be reduced, while in some defence communities the number of Defence Community Police Officers may be cut. A further consultation on other measures will consider using unarmed service personnel for security where this will not impact on operational readiness.
Mr Robathan said the MoD carried out a review of its civil policing and guarding policy in the wake of the Comprehensive Spending Review and the Strategic Defence and Security Review earlier in the Parliament. He said it was the MoD's duty to make savings for the benefit of the taxpayer and to ensure resources are focussed on the front line. He concluded: "We can and will make savings in guarding and civil policing but I can assure the House effective security arrangements will be maintained at all defence sites."
Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said: "There will be very real concerns about the impact on protecting munitions stores but most importantly our nuclear bases. We must be told the full implications of this decision. The Army are being cut by 20,000 by this Government, morale is falling and now ministers want soldiers to fill in for the MoD Police they're sacking.
"This is a pretty shabby way to sack 1,800 people. Sneaking out a statement on the eve of Easter recess is no way to end the MoD careers of so many brave men and women. The defence community and the country will want to know at which sites cuts are being made, what the impact will be on security, how many soldiers will be asked to change duties and what further cuts are set to be made."
Defence Police Federation national chairman Eamon Keating said: "This announcement formalises what we have suspected for some time - namely that ministers are happy to put the bottom line ahead of security. Making this announcement hours before the parliamentary recess is disingenuous at best, particularly when ministers are announcing changes they had decided in December. These decisions will put security of key establishments in the hands of security providers who lack the training, investigative powers and constabulary authority of MoD Police officers. The results will be greater risk to our establishments, assets and personnel, not less."