The Mail on Sunday has an interesting Government leak / briefing:
By Jason Lewis
Last updated at 12:43 AM on 10th August 2008
Massive expansion of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary is being secretly planned to protect Britain's most vulnerable terrorist targets.
The Mail on Sunday has learned that it will be transformed into the Critical National Infrastructure Police and mount armed patrols around all key installations nationwide, including power stations, phone and computer networks, oil and gas pipelines, ports and airports.
Secret negotiations also include taking over responsibility for protecting Government buildings and key economic targets.
The existing Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure defines the Critical National Infrastructure as:
The national infrastructure is the underlying framework of facilities, systems, sites and networks necessary for the functioning of the country and the delivery of the essential services which we rely on in every aspect of our daily life. Examples of essential services include the supply of water, energy and food. Failure of this infrastructure and loss of the services it delivers could include severe economic or social damage and/or large scale loss of life.
There are nine sectors which deliver essential services: energy, food, water, transport, telecommunications, government & public services, emergency services, health and finance. Within these sectors there are key elements that comprise the critical national infrastructure. These are the components or assets without which the essential services cannot be delivered. These components may be physical or electronic. .
The Civil Nuclear Constabulary is already responsible for guarding all nuclear power stations and other nuclear installations.
The 800-strong force also protects nuclear material when it is moved around the country and investigates any attempt to steal or smuggle atomic material. Its officers are routinely armed and it has 17 regional headquarters, mainly at nuclear plants around the UK.
Richard Thompson, a former Foreign Office counter-terrorism expert who has served in Iraq, took over the force in June last year and has been carrying out strategic reviews to prepare for its expanded role.
The intention is that the force, which has a £50million-a-year budget, will have more officers and take over policing other power stations, critical telecom buildings, gas installations, fuel dumps, airports and other key terror targets
What about Bio Safety Level 3 and 4 genetic and biological research laboratories, with dangerous human and animal viruses, bacteria and other pathogens ?
What about Air Traffic Control Centres like Swanick ?
What about Railway signaling centres ?
Armed patrols around the City of London financial district ?
It is also expected to take over protecting Britain's main sea ports, some of which have their own tiny forces, such as Dover Port Police which has 50 officers.
Why should this not be part of the new proposed UK Borders Force instead ?
The Critical National Infrastructure force is expected to be announced as part of Security Minister Lord West's review of Britain's preparedness for terrorism.
He has been focusing on security around chemical, biological and nuclear material, which terror groups such as Al Qaeda are trying to obtain to use in attacks. Last night, Lord West acknowledged that expansion of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary's role was 'one of a number of options available"
Whilst it might make sense to have some 24/7 armed protection for, say, the Balgzand (Netherlands) to Bacton (Norfolk) gas pipeline terminal, this idea of the expansion of a secretive, unaccountable armed force, raises some Obvious Spy Blog Questions:
- The current Civil Nuclear Constabulary is a non-geographical Police Force, and has a Civil Nuclear Police Authority panel of 7 former Police, Prison and Nuclear industry insiders, appointed by the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise & Regulatory Reform, i.e. no Local Councillors or anybody who has been directly, or indirectly, democratically elected to this unaccountable Non-Departmental Government Body. Will the new Critical National Infrastructure Police also be without any elected democratic accountability as well ?
- Why should these armed guards be called "Police" when they should actually be a military unit ?
- Other countries civil nuclear facilities or Government buildings are protected with anti-aircraft missiles and heavy machine guns, armoured fighting vehicles, attack helicopters etc. Surely the Critical National Infrastructure Police will not be expected to just use pistols and sub machine guns, and unarmoured police vehicles ? ?
- Will the Critical National Infrastructure Police have their own bomb disposal expertise ?
- Will they all be equipped with NBC protection suits and both radiation and chemical weapons and biological pathogen detection equipment ?
- Will they actually have Special Forces style armed assault teams to counter terrorist hostage taking attacks ?
- Can they be trusted not to leave the plans for the protection of these sensitive targets, including likely sites for missile attacks to be launched from etc., printed out and blowing in the wind at a local petrol station, like the Metropolitan Police supposedly guarding Heathrow Airport managed to do in 2004 ?
- Can they be trusted not to lose unencrypted laptop computers, USB memory devices etc. containing such sensitive plans (like the Military and Ministry of Defence and Intelligence Agencies seem to do regularly) ?
- How exactly will the Critical National Infrastructure Police protect a telephone or internet exchange from an electronic attack ?
- How exactly will the Critical National Infrastructure Police cooperate with Local Police Forces and Private Sector Security Guards e.g. Serco etc. who supposedly guard Government buildings ?
- Will all the sites which are to be protected by the Critical National Infrastructure Police become Protected Sites under section 128 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005, which makes crossing the boundary of the site a criminal trespass offence ?
- Will all the sites which are to be protected by the Critical National Infrastructure Police become Prohibited Places under the Official Secrets Act 1911 ? Will this result in the further harassment of Photographers in the vicinity of such sites ?
- Will the Critical National Infrastructure Police conduct its own "intelligence" operations against anti-nuclear and environmental etc. protestors , including Directed and Intrusive Surveillance, electronic and postal communications intercepts, communications traffic data analysis, infiltration of Covert Human Intelligence Sources, informers and undercover agents etc ?
- How exactly will the Critical National Infrastructure Police interoperate with or compete for resources with the existing Counter Terrorism Command of the Metropolitan Police, the National Extremism Tactical Coordination Unit, the Security Service MI5, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, the proposed UK Border Force etc etc.?
- What exactly will the existing Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) be doing ?
- Where exactly are the trained personnel which this expansion of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary going to magically appear from ?
- Will part of this expansion be handed over to the Private Military Contractor / Security / Risk / Surveillance / Mercenary companies which have been profiting from UK and US Government contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan or other, oil rich, countries?
- Will any of the civil servants and Labour politicians who are currently proposing this Critical National Infrastructure Police plan, end up working in the private sector for such Private Military Contractor / Security / Mercenary companies ?