Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection

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PaDP officers guarding the main gates at Downing Street in London

Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection (PaDP) is a branch of Protection Command within the Specialist Operations directorate of London's Metropolitan Police Service.[1]

Duties[edit]

Two PaDP officers outside the Palace of Westminster in 2016

A unit of the Metropolitan Police Service, PaDP is responsible for providing officers (armed and unarmed) to protect the Palace of Westminster, which contains the Houses of Parliament; it protects government ministers and provides advice on threat levels.[2] Within PaDP is a Parliamentary Liaison and Investigation Team (PLaIT), which is responsible for coordinating with local police forces and with the Parliamentary Security Department (PSD) that reports to the Speaker of the House of Commons and the Lord Speaker of the House of Lords.[2] In addition, PaDP is responsible for security at Downing Street, which is home to the Prime Minister and Chancellor of the Exchequer.[3]

PaDP is also responsible for the protection of diplomatic missions in the UK, consistent with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (which requires that a host country protect embassies and consulates, while preserving their inviolability).[4] PaDP provides armed and unarmed security in both police cars and foot patrols, and uniformed and plainclothes operations.[4]

History[edit]

An armed officer on duty near the entrance to Downing Street

PaDP was created in April 2015 through a merger of the Metropolitan Police Service's Diplomatic Protection Group (SO6) and the Palace of Westminster Division (SO17).[5][6] It is the largest armed police unit in the UK.[7]

The Diplomatic Protection Group (DPG) was originally formed in November 1974 as a branch of the Metropolitan Police Service devoted to the protection of diplomatic missions in Central London.[8] DPG officers were also assigned to support security operations for royal weddings, state visits, and other special events.[8] The group was elevated to a command in 1979.[8]

The Palace of Westminster Division (SO17) was a branch of the Specialist Operations Directorate within the Metropolitan Police Service. In accordance with a contract and Special Service Agreement with Parliament, SO17 was responsible for security at the Palace of Westminster and the rest of the Parliamentary Estate.[9]

Notable incidents[edit]

On 27 December 1972, police constable (PC) Peter Slimon, en route to his post protecting the Jordanian embassy, ran across an attempted bank robbery in progress at the National Westminster Bank at Kensington High Street. A gun battle ensued (a very rare event in London). Slimon fatally shot one bank robber and wounded another; Slimon was himself wounded by gunfire.[10][11] Slimon was awarded the George Medal for "outstanding resolution, devotion to duty and courage of a very high order" in tackling the robbers.[12]

During the Iranian Embassy siege of 1980, PC Trevor Lock was taken hostage along with the embassy staff. The British Army's Special Air Service rescued the hostages six days later.[8]

PC Keith Palmer, who was murdered in the line of duty in a terrorist stabbing attack in 2017 in New Palace Yard, was a member of PaDP.[13]

Controversial incidents[edit]

In early 2021, PC Wayne Couzens, who then served with PaDP,[14] used his warrant card to arrest Sarah Everard under the pretence of her having breached the COVID-19 regulations then in effect. He then drove her to the outskirts of Dover where he raped and killed her—later burning and disposing of her remains in a pond in Great Chart.

Three days after Couzens was jailed,[15] PC David Carrick, a serving member of PaDP[16] was charged with one count of rape following an alleged attack on a woman on the night of 4 September 2021.[17] On the 24 November 2021 and 10 January 2022, he was subsequently charged with a further dozen counts of rape (and sixteen of related offences) alleged to have occurred between 2009 and 2018 against seven other women.[18] On 17 March 2022, Carrick was charged with a further twelve offences, some related to new complainants, that allegedly took place between 2003 and 2015.[19] Separately, on 18 March 2022, Wayne Couzens was additionally charged with four counts of indecent exposure related to alleged incidents in January and February 2021, which the Independent Office for Police Conduct had previously determined where inadequately investigated by police.[20] In his first appearance before the Home Affairs Select Committee in April 2022, Acting Metropolitan Police Commissioner Stephen House said an inquiry into PDaP's culture had found the unit suffered from a lack of supervision.[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection". Metropolitan Police Service. Archived from the original on 26 January 2017. Retrieved 7 November 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  2. ^ a b Security at Westminster and beyond in Democracy, freedom of expression and freedom of association: Threats to MPs, Joint Committee on Human Rights (2019).
  3. ^ Questions to the Mayor: Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Unit polices, London Assembly (18 June 2020).
  4. ^ a b Met boosts security for embassies, Embassy Network (21 February 2019).
  5. ^ Envoys learn of new threat at security seminar, Embassy Network (18 January 2016).
  6. ^ Police guard the entrance to Downing Street London., Getty Images (22 July 2019).
  7. ^ Elite London Police Officer Arrested on Suspicion Of Murder, Agence France-Presse (10 March 2021).
  8. ^ a b c d "History of the Diplomatic Protection Group". Metropolitan Police Service. Archived from the original on 5 May 2016. Retrieved 26 February 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  9. ^ "SO17 Palace of Westminster". Metropolitan Police Service. Archived from the original on 5 August 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2013.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  10. ^ Alvin Shuster, Gun Battle in London Stirs Controversy, New York Times (3 January 1973).
  11. ^ "Period 1946 to date". Friends of the Metropolitan Police Historical Collection. Archived from the original on 15 February 2012.
  12. ^ "No. 46156". The London Gazette. 18 December 1973. p. 15034.
  13. ^ Eoghan Macguire (10 April 2017). "London Honors Slain Terror Attack Police Officer Keith Palmer". NBC News.
  14. ^ Chris Hunter (3 October 2021). "Sarah Everard killer Wayne Couzens was deployed as parliamentary guard". Kent Online.
  15. ^ Ryan Merrifield (3 October 2021). "Serving Met Police officer from same unit as Wayne Couzens charged with rape". The Mirror.
  16. ^ The Crown Prosecution Service (3 October 2021). "CPS authorises rape charge against David Carrick". Kent Online.
  17. ^ "Serving London Police Officer David Carrick Charged with Rape - October 3, 2021". Daily News Brief. 3 October 2021. Retrieved 3 October 2021.
  18. ^ "David Carrick: CPS authorises nine further charges | The Crown Prosecution Service". www.cps.gov.uk. Retrieved 14 January 2022.
  19. ^ "Met police officer David Carrick charged with further rapes". BBC News Online. 17 March 2022. Retrieved 17 March 2022.
  20. ^ "Sarah Everard: Killer Wayne Couzens charged with four counts of indecent exposure". BBC News. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  21. ^ Syal, Rajeev (20 April 2022). "Met police culture problems 'not just a few bad apples', says acting head". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 April 2022.