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Police Reform Act 2002

Commentary on Sections

Part 5: The Ministry of Defence Police
Section 78: Ministry of Defence Police serving with other forces

392.This section inserts a new section 2B in the Ministry of Defence Police Act 1987, the main legislation governing the MDP. The new section 2B deals with the position where MDP officers serve with other forces under arrangements such as secondment. It provides that, while serving with another force, they come under the direction and control of the chief officer of the force with which they are serving and have the full powers of a constable of that force (i.e. without the jurisdictional limits that apply to MDP officers).

Section 79: Disciplinary matters

393.This section adds new provisions to the Ministry of Defence Police Act 1987 (“the MDP Act”) concerning the disciplinary procedures for the MDP. The intention is to enable those procedures to be aligned as closely as possible with those of Home Office police forces. At present, the MDP Act (in section 1(4)) gives the Secretary of State for Defence the power to dismiss a member of the MDP. He has no power to transfer to an outside body the function of deciding the imposition of penalties. In Home Office forces, on the other hand, a key element of the process of disciplinary cases, and of review and appeal, is that officers or other persons from outside the force concerned may take such decisions.

394.Subsection (1) inserts a new section 3A in the MDP Act, creating a power for the Secretary of State for Defence to make regulations establishing disciplinary procedures for the MDP. It specifies that the regulations may provide for decisions on these matters to be taken or reviewed by persons other than the Secretary of State or the chief constable or persons acting on their behalf, and for the appointment of such persons. This is to allow disciplinary decisions to be made by persons outside the Ministry of Defence and the MDP. The Act does not prescribe what the procedures should be, so that they can be altered by statutory instrument as the need arises. The intention is to adopt procedures aligned with those of the Home Office forces, and then to keep track of changes in these procedures. Regulations under this section will be made by statutory instrument subject to the negative resolution procedure.

395.Subsection (2) inserts a new section 4A in the MDP Act, providing members of the MDP who have been subject to disciplinary proceedings and awarded one of the punishments listed in new section 4A(1) with the right of appeal to a tribunal. This right may not be exercised if the officer has the prior right (as is the case with officers who are not senior officers) to seek review, unless and until the review confirms a punishment of dismissal, requirement to resign or reduction in rank. The new section empowers the Secretary of State to make by order provision for the composition and procedures of the appeals tribunal corresponding to the relevant enactments for Home Office police forces (subject to modifications). New section 4A(5) enables the appeals tribunal to substitute a less severe punishment than that originally awarded.

396.Subsection (3) enables the powers of the Ministry of Defence Police Committee (which are at present only advisory) to be extended, so that it may be appointed to take certain decisions in the disciplinary process.

Section 80: Functions of inspectors of constabulary

397.This section inserts new sections 4B and 4C in the MDP Act. The new section 4B puts inspections of the MDP by Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Constabulary on a statutory basis. At present the MDP are inspected by HMIC on a non-statutory basis by invitation. The new section 4C provides for publication of the Inspectors’ reports on the MDP.

Section 81: Exemptions from firearms legislation

398.This section amends the firearms legislation applicable in Great Britain and Northern Ireland respectively, so as to enable potential recruits to the MDP to use firearms without a certificate while they are being trained or assessed under MDP supervision. As part of their assessment process, potential recruits take a firearms aptitude test. This involves ‘possession’ (in the sense used in the firearms legislation) of a firearm, which is generally unlawful without a firearms certificate.

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