Police responsible for guarding the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Burghfield, where the UK's nuclear weapons are assembled, are under investigation for failing to carry out security duties, according to a report in the Mirror newspaper.
The newspaper claims that up to 50 Ministry of Defence police officers are under scrutiny for failing to conduct key duties, including security patrols, and that some officers were “sleeping on the job”.
Seven officers have reportedly resigned as a result of the allegations, and others are facing disciplinary action while senior officers investigate the matter. The case has been reported to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is expected to come to a decision next year.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence told the Mirror that “a number of officers are under investigation for failing to complete full patrols. At no point was the security of the site or its nuclear assets compromised.” The Ministry of Defence has not confirm the exact number of officers involved, but said they represented a small percentage of the police complement at Burghfield.
In November 2013 Anna Soubry, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, announced that “significant numbers” of civilian guards at Ministry of Defence sites were being withdrawn, with their duties passing to military personnel. The Minister told Parliament that there would be “prudent reductions” in security personnel at some sites although other establishments would receive strengthened protection, representing an overall improvement in security risk management.
Ms Soubry said that the Ministry of Defence “attaches the very highest importance to security, and will continue to ensure that risks are kept under review and that effective protection is maintained at all our establishments”.
Nuclear Information Service has written to the Chief Constable of the Ministry of Defence Police to request an investigation into policing standards at AWE Burghfield. Download a copy of the letter here: