The Civil Nuclear Constabulary is a specialist armed police force that protects civil nuclear sites and nuclear materials in England, Scotland and Wales.
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) recently sought views on potential legislation to extend the remit of the constabulary in the Energy Act 2004.
The constabulary works in partnership with nuclear site licence companies to protect the ten nuclear sites and nuclear material in transit. The officers are trained to the same standards and subject to the same scrutiny as regular police officers; all frontline officers are armed.
The constabulary strategy was published for the period 2020-2023 and the longer term. The strategies are designed to respond to several challenges, including:
the prospect of fluctuating demand as the nuclear generating fleet moves closer to decommissioning;
the evolving threat environment; and
the need to provide job enrichment opportunities in response to relatively high attrition rates.
The Civil Nuclear Police Authority is responsible for maintaining an efficient and effective constabulary and believes it needs to adapt to increase flexibility in the changing landscape.
The proposals to extend the constabulary’s remit focus on two key outcomes:
to enable the constabulary to provide a wider range of policing services beyond the civil nuclear sector; and
to enable the constabulary to provide support more easily to other police forces.
Enabling the constabulary to provide a wider range of activities would mean the ability to expand services to other customers, such as other Critical National Infrastructure sites, which require the on-site presence of a trained guard force. The constabulary could diversify to meet changing demands by bidding for other contracts when required. Thus providing career stability, enure retention of highly specialised capabilities, training and personnel.
To make sure that the policing of civil nuclear sites and materials is unaffected, the constabulary will be required to seek the consent of the Secretary of State before bidding for commercial arrangements outside their core duties. The legislation would also be amended to allow the constabulary to charge service recipients for any activities.
The constabulary provides additional benefits to national policing and has assisted with national counter-terrorism operations. The current arrangements require individual collaboration agreements to be signed with each territorial force which can risk delay/ The proposals would bring “special demand” assistance for unseen emergency events. The receiving police force could be charged appropriately for the services provided.
Four policy options have already been considered:
Take no action – the constabulary’s powers would remain as they are, and they will respond to the challenges outlined in the consultation with their existing powers.
Service expansion – the constabulary is allowed, through amended legislation, to diversify and provide a wider range of policing services beyond the civil nuclear sector. This option is expected to address career uncertainty, providing redeployment opportunities, increased job security and improve staff wellbeing.
Assistance – introduce legislation to amend the scope, remit and powers of the constabulary to allow them to provide support to other forces when there is a special demand on their resources. This would provide an alternative means to deploy officers in emergency scenarios outside of collaboration agreements.
Service expansion and assistance – pursuing options 2 and 3 is the recommended option in the consultation.
The key benefits are said to be a better quality of service, reduced operational risks and increased competition, job enrichment and increased efficiency with reduced bureaucracy.
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