Civil Nuclear Constabulary
|Civil Nuclear Constabulary|
|Annual budget||circa £100m|
|Operations jurisdiction||United Kingdom|
|Map of CNC Divisions|
|Legal jurisdiction||UK civil nuclear sites|
|Headquarters||Culham Science Centre |
|Sworn members||over 1,500 |
The Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) (Welsh: Heddlu Sifil Niwclear) is a special armed police force responsible for providing law enforcement and security at any relevant nuclear site and for security of nuclear materials in transit within the United Kingdom. The force has over 1,500 police officers and support staff.
The CNC was established on 1 April 2005, replacing the former Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary established in 1955. The CNC does not guard the United Kingdom's nuclear weapons; this role is the responsibility of the British Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence Police.
The core role of the CNC is to provide armed policing and security for civil nuclear establishments and materials throughout the United Kingdom and to maintain a state of readiness against any possible attack on a licensed nuclear site. The CNC is established in Chapter 3, sections 51–71, of the Energy Act 2004. The act sets up the Civil Nuclear Police Authority and the position of Chief Constable, defines the powers of members of the constabulary, mandates that Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary must inspect the force and amends several other acts. It falls under the remit of the newly formed Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy instead of the Home Office.
The CNC's Annual Report (page 15) states that "... the crime dealt with by officers at civil nuclear sites remains low in volume. The management and investigation of crime does not form any part of the Constabulary's mission statement." Whilst the CNC are a police force, this acknowledgement would suggest the role of a CNC Police Officer is that of providing armed security, rather than primarily being concerned with law enforcement. This role is also evidenced in the number of arrests made by the force annually compared with a territorial police force of a similar number of police officers. In 2016, CNC officers made 24 arrests. This compares to Dorset Police, a force with a similar number of officers who made 7,460 arrests annually in the latest annual figures.
During the year 2010–11, the CNC made 12 arrests, although two of those people were de-arrested at the scene (one when it was realised that the person was not wanted on warrant after all and another where it was decided that police action was not appropriate in relation to an alleged assault).
From 1 October 2012 to 31 March 2019, the Chief Constable of the CNC was retired Brigadier Michael Griffiths CBE. The Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman QPM formerly of Thames Valley Police who is also the National Police Chiefs Council lead for firearms policing took over as Chief Constable. The new Temporary Deputy Chief Constable is Chris Armitt QPM formerly of Merseyside Police since 1989 who served eight years in the Royal Engineers. The new Temporary Assistant Chief Constable is Duncan Worsell MBE who has served with the force throughout his career. Previously he was North and Scotland Divisional Commander, Operational Unit Commander at Sellafield and Chief Firearms Instructor.
Unlike the majority of the British police territorial forces, all frontline CNC officers are routinely armed while carrying out duties. CNC officers also operate the armament on board the ships of the Pacific Nuclear Transport Limited, a subsidiary of International Nuclear Services, which specialise in transporting spent nuclear fuel and reprocessed uranium on behalf of its ultimate parent, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Such ships have an onboard escort of armed police.
The CNC is authorised to carry out covert intelligence operations against anti-nuclear protesters. In July 2009, Judge Christopher Rose said the CNC's "approach to covert activity is conspicuously professional". He found that the system for storing the intelligence gained from informers was "working well" and that "senior officers regard covert surveillance as a long-term requirement".
CNC police officers have the same powers as regular police officers, but with jurisdiction limited to those set out in the Energy Act 2004, which are:
- Any place when escorting nuclear materials in transit
- Any place when pursuing or detaining subjects who have unlawfully removed or interfered with materials guarded by the CNC, or have been reasonably suspected of being guilty of doing so
- Civil nuclear sites
- Land around such sites up to 5 km from the boundary.
- Shipyards when safeguarding such nuclear materials
See below section 'Mutual aid' when this jurisdiction can be extended in support of other forces.
The CNC operates at a total of ten sites in England, Scotland and Wales (there are no "relevant nuclear sites" in Northern Ireland). Of these, three are classed as Operational Units, where an ordinary police presence is maintained, while eight are Support Units, which have an overt armed police presence.
- CNC Headquarters
- Operational Units
- Support Units
In 2007, the CNC adopted a structure similar to other police forces when it introduced three Basic Command Units, each headed by a Superintendent, based around the geographical locations it polices. This has now changed to two, each headed by a Chief Superintendent as follows:
- BCU North and Scotland – responsible for nuclear sites in Scotland (Dounreay, Hunterston and Torness) as well as nuclear sites in the north of England (Hartlepool, Heysham and Sellafield).
- BCU South – responsible for nuclear sites in the south of England (Culham, Dungeness, Harwell, Hinkley Point and Sizewell).
The CNC operates with most of its constables acting as authorised firearms officers. Many of the officers can be seen patrolling their respective sites carrying firearms such as assault rifles and pistols. All officers complete firearms training as per the National Firearms Training Curriculum. This curriculum is also followed to train Operational, Tactical and Strategic commanders in the force along with Tactical Advisors and Post Incident Managers.
The core weapon system for CNC AFOs is the Heckler & Koch G36, as well as this all officers are armed with Glock 17 sidearms. All officers are additionally equipped with less-lethal weapons for use against threats that do not justify a firearms response. Such options include PAVA spray, X2 Tasers, ASP telescopic batons, and baton launchers. Specialist team officers at some sites are also issued with enhanced carbines, shotguns and specialist munitions such as distraction devices.
The uniform of the force is similar to that of other police forces in the UK. The current uniform replaced the traditional Metropolitan Police-style uniforms in July 2008. A new, more practical uniform was introduced from October 2015. Officers wear body armour similar to that of other UK Police Authorised Firearms Officers. All CNC firearms officers are trained to national 'D13' standards to administer medical care. Additionally some officers are trained to Tactical Care Officer standard and carry additional equipment such as paramedic bergens and defibrillators. These officers regularly attend incidents within their policing juristicion as first responders to render first aid to injured parties.
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The force uses almost entirely Ford S-Max and Mitsubishi Shogun patrol and response vehicles, though these are soon to be replaced by Skoda Kodiak, along with OVIK Crossway ballistic protected vehicles. The force also runs a number of BMW X5s for use as escort vehicles. 'Standard' and 'advanced' driver training is provided in line with national standards and is delivered in-house as the CNC does now have its own police driving instructors based from Cumbria. The vehicle fleet is managed by the Chiltern Transport Consortium, led by Thames Valley Police.
Funding comes from the companies which run 10 nuclear plants in the UK. Around a third is paid by Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which owns Sellafield. Nearly a fifth of the funding is provided by British Energy, the privatised company owned by EDF. In June 2009, EDF's head of security complained that the force had overspent its budget "without timely and satisfactory explanations to us". The industry acknowledges it is in regular contact with the CNC and the UK security services.
The CNC is one of the three special police forces of the United Kingdom, the others being the British Transport Police, and Ministry of Defence Police. Unlike these other two forces, the CNC were not included in the provisions setting out 'extended jurisdiction' as per the Anti-terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001. This allows officers of the MDP and BTP to act outside their natural jurisdiction in certain circumstances.
The CNC is also not included in mutual aid provisions provided by the Police Act 1996 sections 24 and 98 (mutual aid between police forces of England & Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and BTP) or Ministry of Defence Police Act 1987 section 3a (mutual aid from MDP). However section 59 of the Energy Act 2004 allows CNC officers to act outside their natural jurisdiction in mutual aid situations under agreements between the Chief Officer of the CNC and the Chief Officer of a local police force.
Officers were seconded to Cumbria Constabulary as support during the floods of 2009.
Officers have also been deployed to the 2012 London Olympics and 28 officers to a 2014 NATO conference in Wales.
For a period of three months during 2015, ten CNC officers were seconded to the British Transport Police's Counter Terrorism Support Unit in London. This detachment helped to cover the shortfall in firearms officer numbers in London in the wake of recent European terror attacks on major cities.
On 27 March 2016, The Daily Telegraph, post-Brussels terrorist attacks, stated: 'The Home Secretary has announced there will be a "surge" of more than 1,000 new armed police officers deployed across the country in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Brussels. Ms May has also changed the law to enable the 1,000 armed police officers guarding Britain's nuclear power stations to be redistributed in the event of multiple terror attacks.'
A press release from the CNC and Home Office details the changes made to enable a greater mutual aid role (dated 7 March 2016). It cites the CNC's Deputy Chief Constable Simon Chesterman: 'The signing of this collaboration agreement allows chief constables to formally request and receive CNC AFOs to work under his or her jurisdiction for the time period they require. Currently, CNC officers only have policing powers in a five-kilometre radius of a nuclear site, as laid out in the Energy Act 2004, and this agreement removes that restriction should officers be needed to provide support at any force across the country if circumstances require it.'
Following the Manchester Arena bombing on 22 May 2017, the force deployed in excess of 450 AFOs across the UK. This deployment occurred following the UK Threat Level being increased from Severe to Critical. Operation Temperer was activated and the military was deployed to backfill CNC officers at Nuclear Licensed Sites. CNC officers were deployed to support Northumbria Police, Greater Manchester Police, Merseyside Police, South Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Police, Staffordshire Police, West Midlands Police, and South Wales Police.
The CNC were again deployed on Operation Temperer in 2017 following the 15 September Parsons Green train bombing. Although a shorter deployment it involved a larger number of officers deployed across the UK.
- List of police forces in the United Kingdom
- Policing in the United Kingdom
- Nuclear power in the United Kingdom
- Specialist Firearms Officer
- Ministry of Defence Police
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