The security of military sites including the Faslane naval base are at “significant risk” amid a staffing shortfall in the Ministry of Defence Police, according to a leading officer.
Chairman of the Defence Police Federation (DPF) Eamon Keating will use a speech today to say that officers in the force feel “unwanted and devalued”, with morale lower than ever, after cuts that have seen the workforce shrink by more than 30 per cent.
He will tell the group’s annual conference that members are paid less than those in other police forces and are expected to work up to eight years longer, that there is currently a shortfall of 200 officers and that “savings rather than risk are the priority”.
Mr Keating will say: “The consequences of a successful attack on an MoD site within the UK hardly bears contemplation.
“Notwithstanding the potential – even likely – loss of life, an attack could mean the destruction, or rendering unserviceable, of weapons and assets needed by our armed forces, meaning military strategy and ability to protect our nation would be compromised.
“The financial cost of an attack, particularly on those assets with a high monetary value, could severely affect the department’s budgeting for years to come and impact on the wider public finances.
“The impact such an attack would have on the public confidence and their sense of security would be seismic.”
The Ministry of Defence Police guard military sites, assets including the Trident warheads, and personnel.
Mr Keating will say that, without the force, terrorists would be more easily able to spy on key sites in order to plot an attack.
Using police officers instead of soldiers – who do not have the authority to operate in civilian environments – to protect the sites means the military personnel are kept available for deployment, he will say.
Mr Keating will add: “Officers – who are expected to risk their lives in protection of the nation – feel utterly unwanted and devalued.
“I can say, unequivocally, that the morale within the Ministry of Defence Police is lower than I have ever seen it, and lower than I am aware that it has ever been.”
A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said the department would never make changes to security arrangements that would put the safety of staff and assets at risk.
She added: “The MoD Police has enough resources to meet its operational requirements. The number of officers has increased over the last five years and we will employ a further 200 officers in the near future. The MoD Police does vital work to protect key sites around the UK.”