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Issue Date: 05/12/2008
Implementation Date: 06/12/2008

Home Office Circular 028 / 2008

A Protocol Between Police Forces And The Ministry Of Defence Police

From: Crime Reduction and Community Safety Group (CRCSG), Police Reform and Resources

Oscar Ramudo 0207 035 3660,  



Home Office Police Forces, Police Authorities, MOD Police


Broad Subject: Police Service

Sub Category: Operational Policing

MOU between ACPO and the MOD & Service Police







Status:           This Protocol relates to arrangements solely in England and Wales and associated territorial waters and provides for an efficient and effective working relationship between the MDP, the Service Police, and the HOPFs outlining where necessary areas of responsibility and accountability.  It makes provision for consultation and co-operation between the signatories, with the aim of delivering the best policing on the ground and in particular for the reporting and investigation of crime.














1.    Preface


2.    Guidance, advice and procedures





A protocol has existed between the MDP and other ACPO forces since 1987, with various revisions, the last being in 2002.  The protocols, including the current new draft, cover the range of areas and issues where the MDP and other forces are likely to come into contact, and are generally pragmatic and non-contentious in nature.


The current draft is intended by the MOD to consolidate, update and replace the 2002 version.  Again, in almost all respects it is straight forward and non- contentious – but there are two changes that are of some significance. 


The first change is that the protocol now includes the Service Police – i.e. the Royal Military Police, RAF Police and Royal Navy Provost.  This has been done to recognise and put onto an appropriate footing, the fact that in some places, the Service Police do, within their jurisdiction for service personnel, deal with some crimes.  This is not likely to be a contentious issue, so it is intended by the MOD to be no more than recognition in the protocol of the existence of local arrangements in some force areas.


The second difference is a change in the MOD’s requirement of the Ministry of Defence Police.  The 2002 version of the protocol contained a commitment that the MDP would deal with all crime on the Defence estate.  In practice this was not implemented nor achievable: the MDP are not present on much of the defence estate, nor funded for a widespread general crime role. The new draft links the MDP involvement in crime to the types of crime and locations which are prioritised to meeting the MOD’s needs. 


The MDP are maintained and funded by the Ministry of Defence to provide policing support to Defence objectives and priorities.  The force is not funded by the Home Office, Local Authorities or Council Tax and MDP resources in any area are always additional to local police resources.  The primary task of the MDP is armed protective security policing of critical defence assets, in accordance with the MOD’s funded tasking requirements, and accordingly the MDP are present only on those parts of the Defence estate where the MOD provides funded tasks.


The MDP do have a Criminal Investigation Department comprising some 200 police officers and staff.  The CID is maintained and funded to provide a Special Branch, intelligence in relation to protest and disruption of Defence business, deal with Defence crime, and in particular to investigate fraud and corruption.  In 2006/07 the MDP dealt with 3640 crimes in the UK.  Geographically, the MDP dealt with less than 10 crimes in 16 force areas, and less than 100 in 33 force areas. 


The effect of the new protocol would be that the MDP would not deal with crimes on the Defence estate at locations where there are no MDP officers available.  The MDP would continue to deal with crimes where they are present and available, and would increase their focus on crimes which cause significant harm to the Defence capability.  Our best estimate is that this would involve a reduction by a few hundred in the number of crimes dealt with by the MDP, with a minimal impact on most forces.  However there will be some locations within some forces where the impact may be noticeable.  We have identified the forces in question as North Yorkshire; Essex; Thames Valley; Devon & Cornwall; Wiltshire; Suffolk and Hampshire. I have written to the Chief Constables concerned, to identify our assessment of those locations with the invitation to engage with us on analysis, impact and mitigation.


This change will not represent any reduction in the MDP’s overall contribution to and commitment to crime – it is only a necessary (and MOD required) shift in priorities towards the more serious end of crime which has the potential to cause significant harm to the Defence capability.










1.       This Protocol replaces HOC 24/2002 dated 3 May 2002 which was a bilateral agreement between the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) and the Home Office Police Forces (HOPFs) .  The scope of the Protocol has been expanded to include the Service Police forces.  The participants to this Protocol are the Chief Constable of the MDP, Single Service Police Provost Marshals, and the Chief Constables of the HOPFs in England and Wales operating under the Police Act 1996.




2.       General responsibility for the maintenance and enforcement of the criminal law throughout England and Wales rests with the chief officers of the “1996 Act” police forces (hereinafter described as ‘local Chief Constables’[1] and ‘local police forces’).  This Protocol relates to arrangements solely in England and Wales and associated territorial waters and provides for an efficient and effective working relationship between the MDP, the Service Police, the BTP and the HOPFs outlining where necessary areas of responsibility and accountability.  It makes provision for consultation and co-operation between the signatories, with the aim of delivering the best policing on the ground and in particular for the reporting and investigation of crime.




3.       This Protocol outlines the roles, responsibilities and jurisdiction (including first response) of the participants to the Protocol.  It also outlines arrangements for the policing of Service Families Accommodation (SFA); armed deployment; traffic control and escorts; mutual aid between MDP and HOPF; and how the MDP and HOPFs in England and Wales intend that the extended jurisdiction given to the MDP (in the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001) to act in support to the HOPFs, including in immediate and urgent circumstances, will be exercised.  Finally, the Protocol addresses complaints against the police and consultation, exchange of information and mutual support between participants


4.       The Protocol will not have any impact or bearing on the existing agreements between the civil authorities and the MOD under the “Civil Authorities and the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities.”[2]


5.       This Protocol sets out the principles to be followed when dealing with the handling of national security cases[3] in the MOD and deaths on MOD establishments[4].  The detail of how these matters are dealt with is covered in separate agreements. The carriage and use of firearms by the MDP, Service Police and other Service Personnel outside the Defence Estate will be the subject of a separate national MOD/ACPO protocol.






6.         Policing in England and Wales is regulated by the Home Office which is responsible for setting out national priorities in the National Policing Plan (NPP).  Each local police force is geographically sited to police the local population for that area, and is complemented accordingly, or to meet any national commitments within their boundary.  Each local police force works to its own local policing authority and produces local policing plans that reflect the NPP for the maintenance of law, crime reduction and the keeping of good public order.




7.       The Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) is a civilian police force within the MOD and was given statutory recognition by the MDP Act 1987.  The primary role of the MDP is to combat the main crime and security risks faced by the MOD which are: terrorist attack and the threat of it; disruption and disorder caused by protestors; theft of key assets; and major financial fraud.  This role is carried out by providing armed security, uniform policing and the investigation of serious crime.


8.       MDP officers are civil police with full UK constabulary powers, and jurisdiction to exercise these powers as set out in Section 2 MDP Act 1987, which includes:


a.       Places.  Any land, vehicles, vessels and aircraft used for defence purposes and any land under an agreement for provision of MOD services as published in the London Gazette.


b.       Any other place in the UK which relates to:


(i).      Crown Property.  Crown, international defence and dockyard property, including the free passage of such property; and


(ii).     Members of the Armed Forces, visiting forces, those employed by or for the MOD or Defence Council, and defence contractors (in respect of those contracts).


9.       Although MDP officers have jurisdiction as constables throughout the MOD estate within the UK, they do not have a permanent presence at all MOD locations, and are deployed primarily at designated defence establishments.  However, the MDP have limited centrally provided specialist resources (both uniform and CID) which are tasked to deal with certain police related issues concerning MOD property or personnel anywhere in the UK, when appropriate.  Due to the dispersed geographic distribution of the Force and limited investigative resources, the MDP will give priority to crime which impacts significantly upon defence capability.


10.     The Chief Officers of the MDP are members of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), and whilst the force operates within the context of MOD strategic policy, operational policing is generally carried out in accordance with ACPO doctrine, standards and procedures.


Service Police


11.     The Service Police consist of the Royal Navy Police, the Royal Military Police and the Royal Air Force Police.  The Chief Officers of the Service Police are known as Provost Marshals.  The role of the Service Police is to support operational effectiveness and wider military capability in the UK and overseas, in both hostile and benign environments, by contributing to the:


         Prevention and investigation of crime by persons subject to the Service Discipline Acts (SDA)[5].


         Maintenance and enforcement of Service discipline and good order.


         Protection and safe deployment of Service personnel and assets.


The Service Police exercise jurisdiction over personnel subject to the SDA, legislation applied by statutory instrument, e.g. Part V of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 and other primary legislation, e.g. RIPA 2000.  The Service Police do not have civil constabulary powers.  Service Police powers are derived from the SDA which allow the Service Police to exercise lawful authority over Service personnel.  Outside of the UK, the Service Police provide a full policing service for service personnel and civilians and families, who are subject to the SDA.  Service Police also retain historic jurisdiction for offences committed outside the UK by former members of HM Forces and any civilians who were at that time under military jurisdiction.  




12.     Introduction.  As previously stated, general responsibility for the maintenance and enforcement of the criminal law throughout England and Wales (and associated territorial waters) rests with the local police forces.  However, the Service Police have a concurrent jurisdiction over all persons subject to the SDA.  The MDP also have a concurrent jurisdiction (under the MDP Act 1987, over what may very broadly be described as defence property and defence personnel).  In some cases it will be more appropriate for the MDP or Service Police to deal with defence-related crime.  A flexible approach, based on consultation and agreement at local level, is encouraged, where the respective police forces discuss who is best placed to take action based on availability of resources, jurisdiction and the public interest.


13.     Jurisdiction Including First Response to an Incident.  It is in the interest of all participants to the Protocol that they respond to crimes reported to them as quickly as possible to save life and to secure and preserve evidence.  Inter-agency tasking is encouraged where geographical or resource limitations exist.  Where a participant has a crime reported to them or discovers one during the course of their normal duties and the matter is found to be within the concurrent jurisdiction of another, they undertake to inform that participant immediately.  In addition, there are cases in which either the Service Police or MDP will not have, or will not exercise jurisdiction, but they happen, in practice, to be first on the scene.  In such cases the MDP and the Service Police will only take immediate action necessary at the scene, whilst simultaneously informing the local police force, but may provide appropriate assistance to such an investigation carried out by a local police force.  Guidance on initial action to be taken on discovering a serious incident by duty/off duty staff at military sites has also been provided for non-police personnel.  It is understood by all parties that the local HDPF is responsible for the investigation of any crime, unless the MDP or Service Police agree that it lies within their respective jurisdiction and criteria for criminal investigation.


14.     Very Serious Crimes.  At any incident involving death or serious injury likely to lead to death or the investigation of terrorism, murder or manslaughter in the UK and National Security cases, the MDP and the Service Police will take immediate action necessary at the scene only.  They will simultaneously inform the local HOPF who will lead the investigation.


15.     Significant Defence Crime.  While the local police service have jurisdiction to investigate all crimes in its area, where a ‘significant defence crime’ has been committed, the MDP or Service Police may request that the Local Police cede jurisdictionIt is possible that, and notwithstanding the following guidelines, the chief of one of the 4 Defence Police organisations may feel that it would be more appropriate for his force to lead on an enquiry than the force to which the relevant HDPF has ceded the said enquiry.  That being the case, the chiefs of the Defence Police organisations concerned should decide which organisation is best placed to lead and advise the local police accordingly.  For those cases where it is difficult to clearly identify a clear lead responsibility from the outset, a joint investigation may be the best way forward.


16.     Mutual Support and Cooperation.  The importance of continued liaison, mutual support and co-operation at all levels is recognised and encouraged as an important facet of these arrangements.  For example, it is recognised that in a minority of cases the MDP or Service Police may not have the appropriate resources to deal comprehensively with a particular crime.  It is also the case that no participants would wish to circumvent established multi-agency approaches to some serious offences e.g. child protection.  In these cases it is essential that dialogue between all participants is maintained.  When investigative responsibility lies with the MDP or the Service Police they will act in concert to best achieve the needs of the victim and the Department.


17.     Prosecution of Accused persons subject to the SDA.  Civilian criminal courts and service tribunals have concurrent jurisdiction to deal with accused persons who are subject to the SDA.  The decision on which jurisdiction prosecutes a person subject to Service Discipline is a matter of consultation between all police agencies involved in the investigation in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service and Service Prosecuting Authorities.


18.     National Intelligence Model (NIM).  In order to support the NIM, all participants to this protocol agree to share such information as appropriate to their jurisdiction.




19.     Demonstrations.  The policing of anti-nuclear, anti-defence and environmental demonstrations and other occurrences requiring a police response in the vicinity of a MOD Establishment, or a convoy escorted by MDP (as described in paragraphs 24 and 26-27) will be primarily the responsibility of the local chief constable.  Where the MDP is employed at an MOD establishment, consultation will take place between the local chief constable and the Chief Constable MDP as to the policing arrangements for such events.   The MDP will usually provide the primary police response inside the establishment and the Local Chief Constable will have operational command outside any MOD Land or premises.


20.     Hostage Incidents.  The local police force will assume primacy at any hostage incident that occurs on MOD property.


policing of SFA


21.     As general responsibility for the maintenance and enforcement of the criminal law throughout England and Wales rests with local chief constables, any off-base community policing of Service personnel and their families should be provided by them.  However, MDP officers and the Service Police may police SFAs.  Heads of MOD Establishments, in consultation with the local chief constable, will assess the appropriate level of security to be afforded to SFA and, if appropriate, the nature and frequency of police activity.  This consultation will reflect advice from the MDP, the Service Police and other experts as appropriate.


22.     If the Head of Establishment considers that the security situation requires armed patrols of off-base SFA, to which the general public have access, this will be carried out by MDP officers if available.  Before conducting armed patrols the Chief Constable MDP will obtain the prior agreement of the local chief constable.  The terms of this agreement will be contained in the national protocol to be agreed under paragraph 5 or existing local written protocol.


23.     If armed MDP officers are not available the Head of Establishment may seek the written agreement of the local chief constable for armed patrols of off-base SFA by Service Personnel in line with an agreed national protocol.  The terms and conditions of this authority, including the types of weapons and method in which firearms are carried, must be specified for each new deployment and must be reviewed periodically.  Until this national protocol is available then local protocols should be used.  If the chief constable does not agree to arming, the responsibility for providing adequate protection for off-base SFA will remain solely with the local police force until this disagreement is resolved.  It follows that good liaison with local police forces should be a high priority for all Heads of MOD Establishments.





24.     Apart from nuclear convoy escort duties (see paragraph 27 below), MDP officers will only be deployed on armed duties on public roads after prior agreement between the Chief Constable MDP and the local chief constable. In such circumstances, the types of weapon and method in which firearms are carried will be specified in the agreement.  MDP officers engaged on armed duties will not use the powers summarised in the ‘extended jurisdiction’ of paragraphs 31 – 35 below, unless all their weapons are first secured within a locked gun-safe.  Detailed arrangements for the deployment of armed MDP officers will be defined in a separate protocol document. 


25.     The Service Police (including other Service personnel) will not be deployed on armed patrols outside MOD property except with the prior written authority of the local chief constable, and then only under the terms set out in the national protocol as described in paragraph 5.




26.     Primary responsibility for the control of traffic on public roads rests with local chief constables.  However, MDP officers also have the power to direct traffic on public roads within the terms of their jurisdiction.  Whenever an escort is to be provided by the MDP or Service Police of any vehicle carrying a dangerous or sensitive load, any exceptionally sized vehicle, or any convoy of vehicles on public roads, the local chief constable will be provided with advance notification of the route to be taken.


27.     Arrangements for the escort of nuclear materials should be made in accordance with the ACPO Manual of Guidance on the Police Use of Firearms and the Report of the ACPO Terrorism and Allied Matters Committee’s Working Group on the Transportation of Nuclear Materials.




28.     Under section 2A of the MDP Act as inserted by section 99 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, the Chief Constable MDP may, at the request of a local chief constable, provide mutual aid and/or police assistance to that particular force for the purposes of enabling that local police force to meet operational demands. Extensions of the jurisdiction of the MDP will be undertaken in accordance with the provisions of the protocol outlined below or, if those circumstances do not apply, in consultation with the Home Office and the Chief Constable of the local HDPF.


29.     This is most likely to be in support of defence-related tasks, major civil emergencies or the provision of specialist policing capabilities, such as marine policing.  Where such assistance is provided, MDP officers will be under the operational control of the local chief constable from the requesting force, and will have the same police powers as officers of that force.     


30.     During any period of mutual aid, MDP officers will be deployed under the overall command of the senior officer of the local police force responsible for policing the operation.  Prior to each operation, the local police force concerned will ensure that the MDP officers on mutual aid are fully briefed regarding intelligence, risk assessments, operational deployments and tactics.







31.     Generally, jurisdictional requirements mean that the powers available to MDP officers are restricted to MOD land and property within the United Kingdom or to those areas and circumstances detailed within Section 2 of the MDP Act 1987 (see paragraph 8 above).  However, section 2 of the MDP Act 1987 has been amended by section 98 of the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 extends the jurisdiction of MDP officers, giving authority for the exercise of constabulary powers outside these restrictions in the following circumstances:


a.       If requested by a constable of a local police force to assist them in the execution of their duties in relation to a particular incident, investigation or operation.


b.       When they suspect on reasonable grounds a person of having committed, being in the course of committing or about to commit an offence, or that they need the powers and privileges of a constable in order to save life or to prevent or minimise personal injury.  MDP officers can only act in these circumstances if they are in uniform or have documentary evidence that they are members of the MDP and they believe on reasonable grounds that they should exercise these powers without securing the attendance of, or a request for assistance from, another constable under sub-paragraph (a) above, as this would frustrate or severely prejudice the purpose for which they believe the power should be exercised.


These circumstances are in addition to the provisions of “Mutual Aid” as set out in paragraphs 28 – 30 above.


32.     It is envisaged that requests for assistance from local police forces should normally arise from incidents, investigations or operations that have an impact on MDP or their policing jurisdiction.  They should not be routinely requested to exercise powers outside their normal jurisdiction on policing tasks unrelated to Defence.  However, this should not prevent requests for MDP assistance in any case where there is a real risk to life or where police officers require urgent assistance.


33.     The primary role of the MDP continues to be to provide law and order policing services to the MOD estate and community.  Other than in the circumstances set out under “Mutual Aid” above, MDP officers will not normally seek to exercise powers in their extended jurisdiction to deal with other matters unless they come across an incident requiring police action in the course of their normal duties.


34.     Whenever MDP officers exercise police powers under this “Extended Jurisdiction” the Chief Constable MDP will ensure the local chief constable is notified as soon as possible.


Anti-Terrorism Powers – Superintending and Chief Officer RANKS


35      The Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 amends the Terrorism Act 2000, so as to grant MDP officers powers to erect cordons and to stop and search under the Terrorism Act 2000.  MDP officers of the rank of superintendent and above have the powers to authorise the erection of cordons on MOD land; or at the request of a local police force, within the area of the requesting police force.  In the case of the latter, the Chief Constable MDP should consult with the appropriate local chief constable(s) before such an authorisation is made, unless the power is required urgently.  In this event, contact will be made with the local chief constable(s) as soon as possible.  Officers of ACPO rank can authorise stop and search powers under the Terrorism Act 2000 on MOD land.


Accountability and liability of MDP officers exercising powers in extended jurisdiction


36.     The following is intended to clarify the question of the accountability and vicarious liability of MDP officers when exercising powers in their extended jurisdiction, in line with the general principals of vicarious liabilities of chief constables.


37.     Where MDP officers exercise policing powers outside their normal jurisdiction in circumstances set out under “Extended Jurisdiction”, Chief Constable MDP remains vicariously liable for all the actions of those officers and for dealing with any consequential claims or actions.  This includes those cases where those officers were responding to a specific incident without prior formal “Mutual Aid” arrangements between forces.


38.     As a general principle, the Chief Constable MDP and the local chief constable will each assume a sole and individual responsibility for damages and costs arising out of any civil liability or injury occurring as a result of the actions of their own officers whilst engaged in “Mutual Aid” duties.  This is regardless as to whether the incident takes place whilst the officer(s) are under the overall supervision of an officer from the other force, unless there is specific legal advice placing sole liability on a single chief constable for all actions, or that liability should be jointly shared between each of them.


39.     Costs and damages arising directly from the operational strategy will be met by the local police force.  The MOD will indemnify the MDP officer(s) against accidental personal injury whilst engaged on formal “Mutual Aid” duties away from the MOD estate.


40.     In prescribing the policies and procedures to be followed by MDP officers when exercising police powers under the extended jurisdiction provided under the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, the Chief Constable MDP will pay due regard to the policing policies of ACPO.




41.     Nothing in this protocol over-rides the responsibility placed on Chief Constables to record and investigate complaints made about the conduct of their officers.  However, where a complaint against the police connected with the deployment of mutual aid officers is made, the preferred method of dealing with this is as follows:


a.       The geographical location of the incident from which an individual complaint or allegation arises will inform the decision as to which force will conduct the investigation but it will not be the sole determinant.  In this section the local police force in whose area the incident is geographically located is referred to as the home force.


b.       If officers from both MDP and the home force to whom aid is being provided are involved in the complaint or allegation then the home force will normally investigate all officers provided the respective chief constable agrees.  If only officers from the home force are involved, the investigation remains with that force.


c.       If only officers from the MDP are involved, that force will normally carry out the investigation.  However, if the Chief Constable MDP agrees, the home force may undertake the investigation.


d.       Where the identity of the officer(s) complained against is unclear, the home force will be responsible for initiating an investigation.  If the identity of the officer(s) is established, subsequent investigations will be dealt with as outlined above.


e.       In the event that one or more of the forces involved considers any complaints to qualify for voluntary referral to the IPCC, the other affected force will be consulted before any such voluntary referral is initiated.


f.        The Service Police are not subject to the Police Discipline Regulations or to review by the IPCC.  Complaints against members of the Service Police are dealt with under single Service procedures and should be referred to the Provost Marshal of the Service Police concerned.




42.     When an MDP officer is acting under the remit of the “Extended Jurisdiction” of paragraphs 31 to 35, no charge will be made against the requesting local police force.  Where the police assistance is provided by MDP in response to a formal request for mutual aid, the charges for those services will be agreed between the Chief Constable of the MDP and the requesting local police force.




43.     Recognising the mutuality of this protocol, the participants shall endeavour to ensure regular consultation and timely exchange of information and intelligence, using the NIM.  Particular priority should be given to information or intelligence relating to policing and security matters that come to the attention of one or more participants, where either this protocol has recognised these as the responsibility of another participant, or where they are likely to impact on those responsibilities.


44.     Except in respect of “Mutual Aid” (which will be dealt with at chief officer level), where, in any of these above paragraphs, an undertaking has been given by any of the parties to this protocol, this may be delegated to appropriate local officers within each organisation for day to day operational matters.


45.     This protocol should be reviewed annually or at any time specifically requested by one of the signatories.






[1]               References within this Protocol to a local Chief Constable include the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service and the City of London Police where appropriate. This protocol does not include the British Transport Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary as they have separate responsibilities, but the MDP and Service Police will clearly extend to them the collaborative and supportive principles that underpin this protocol.

[2]               Military Aid to the Civil Authorities includes Military Aid to other Government Departments, Military Aid to the Civil Power and Military Aid to the Civil Community.

[3]               Protocol between the Ministry of Defence and the Metropolitan Police Special Branch on the handling of national security cases involving MOD information, assets and/or personnel.

[4]               MOD/ACPO Protocol on the Investigation of Deaths on Land or Premises Owned, Occupied or Under the Control of the Ministry of Defence.

[5] The Service Discipline Acts comprise the Naval Discipline Act 1957, the Army Act 1955 and the Air Force Act 1955 (these will be replaced by the Armed Forces Act 2006 on 1 Jan 09).

View attachments here:
Annex A Policing & MDP Protocol.doc

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