Eamon Keating, the Chairman of the Defence Police Federation, has denounced plans for futher cuts to the number of officers in the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) at a speech to the Federation's annual dinner. Mr Keating warned about planned cuts, saying they would limit the number of officers available to respond to events such as terrorist attacks.
The MDP guards over 120 military sites around the UK, including the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) and the Faslane and Coulport nuclear weapons bases Since 2010 the number of officers has been cut from 3,645 to around 2,600 at present. The government is seeking budget cuts of £12.5 million, which the Federation estimate would translate to losing 300 armed officers.
"The MDP senior leadership propose to ‘reset’ our workforce numbers to meet savings targets. We should have a chill down our spines at the very thought of such a measure and the implications it has for security", said Mr Keeting in his speech. "In the current climate, where the threat levels are increasing and we have seen three terrorist attacks over the past 12 weeks, where response is limited and its sustainability – nationally – is under question, this type of decision is outrageous and cannot go unchecked".
When the UK terrorism threat level was raised to 'critical' in May, following the Manchester bombing, troops were deployed to a number of sensitive sites to support the police, including AWE Aldermaston and Burghfield, under Operation Temperer. The troops would have guarded the site in the event that police were required to be deployed elsewhere in response to a terrorism incident. The deployment of troops ended when the threat level was downgraded to 'severe'.
Further coverage of this story:
The Guardian: Cuts could leave Trident nuclear base at risk of attack, says police boss
Defence Police Federation: Chairman’s fears over losing armed Defence Police officer posts