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CNC should supply ‘special demand’ help to forces says review

Expansion of role could include guarding airports and main train stations as well as outsourcing firearms training and facilities

The government has supported proposals to enable the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) to provide ‘special demand’ assistance to territorial forces, in line with BTP and MoD Police powers.

Ideas for expansion of the CNC to emerge from a consultation exercise included ‘backfilling’ specialist policing roles during the pandemic in order to free up territorial forces to support enforcement of health protection regulations.

Another expansion proposal was guarding non-nuclear critical national infrastructure such as major train stations and airports during periods of ‘heightened emergency’ such as severe terrorism threats.

The consultation has been in response to the changing nature of the CNC’s responsibilities due to the closure and recommissioning of many nuclear sites around the UK.

Under current regulations there are only a limited number of territorial forces with section 22A collaboration arrangements in place which means many cannot call upon CNC support if required.

Respondents to the consulation were generally supportive of the proposals on the basis that it could provide operational benefit for wider UK policing when increased armed capability is required at times of stretched demand.

The CNC protects ten nuclear sites across the country, employing over 1,500 police officers and police support staff. Its chief constable is the NPCC lead for firearms policing.

Examples of an expanded role for the CNC included:

Some respondents suggested that critical national infrastructure sites could be more effectively protected by territorial police forces or Police Scotland.

The consultation also raised concerns about other issues, notably: training and capability of CNC Staff, impact on delivery of core nuclear security mission, and judicial or independent oversight of CNC activities if conducted away from licensed sites

One suggestion was that the CNC training facility at Griffin Park could be used to train those outside the Civil Nuclear sector. The facility is currently under-used so capacity could  be filled by other police forces and counter terrorist policing on a ‘commercial or subsidised basis’ it adds.

Supporting the consultation findings the government said there was “strong support for measures to enable the CNC to assist other police forces where there is a special demand on their resources.”

It added: “We therefore also intend to develop legislation on these measures, and develop with the CNC appropriate protocols as to when these powers will be used. We intend that any legislation will ensure that the CNC’s core mission is not jeopardised, and that CNC can charge requesting forces appropriately for their services.”

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