Royal Air Force Police

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Royal Air Force Police
Royal Air Force Police crest.jpg
Royal Air Force Police Crest
Active 1 April 1918 - Present
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Allegiance HM The Queen
Branch  Royal Air Force
Type Service Police
Role Policing and Counter-intelligence
Motto Fiat justitia
(Latin: Let justice be done)
March RAF Police March Past
Website Royal Air Force Police
Provost Marshal
Group Captain Kevin Bailey
RAF Ensign Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg
Tactical Recognition Flash RMP TRF.svg

The Royal Air Force Police (RAFP) is the service police branch of the Royal Air Force, headed by the Provost Marshal of the Royal Air Force. It was formed on 1 April 1918, when the RAF was formed by the merger of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. It is responsible for the policing and security of all service personnel, much like their Royal Navy or British Army counterparts. At the end of WWII there were 500 officers & 20,000 NCOs in the RAFP. In January 1947, the RAF Provost Branch became a Specialist Branch within the RAF. In December 1950, His Majesty King George VI, approved the Griffin Badge and Motto ‘Fiat Justitia'. By 2009, the RAFP had, since 1918, served in 66 countries around the globe and today deploy throughout the world to support RAF and UK defence missions. The complex global history of the RAFP during its first 100 years is currently being researched and written by Stephen R Davies, who served in the RAF Police between 1975 and 2000.

RAF Police non-commissioned officers and warrant officers are noticeable by their white-topped caps (giving rise to their nickname of Snowdrops), which they have worn since 1945, and by black and red flashes worn below their rank slides. RAF Police commissioned officers wear the standard peaked cap of all Royal Air Force officers, with the red and black flashes. In dress uniform, all RAFP wear a red and black brassard on the left arm, reflecting the flashes worn with normal working dress. All RAFP personnel wear red 'MP' badges, the internationally recognised symbol for military police, with tactical dress.


  • Provision of policing, counter-intelligence and specialist security support to the RAF, including:
    • Criminal and security investigations
    • Aircraft protection and security
    • Threat assessment against terrorism, espionage, subversion, sabotage and Organised Crime to RAF operations
    • Cyber and information security
    • Military working dogs
    • Force protection (on deployed operations and in co-operation with the RAF Regiment)
    • Close protection of VIPs
    • Close support of other UK military units [1]

In addition to general policing, the RAFP has specialist security and criminal investigators tasked with the investigation of more serious and complex crime and security threats. This capability is supported with forensic and intelligence units. Members of all wings are used for operations overseas, deploying as individuals, with the aircraft they support, or as a formed unit drawn together under the Tactical Police Squadrons. Members of the RAFP may also specialise in close protection duties, ensuring the safety of VIPs and other dignitaries in hostile environments.[2]

No.1 Tactical Provost Squadron (TPS) (formerly the Tactical Provost Wing) forms the RAF Police's tactical, deployable capability. Their primary role is to conduct forward policing and security of RAF personnel and assets. The Tactical Provost Squadron has deployed personnel on operations to Afghanistan; where, as part of the RAF's Force Protection Wing, the RAFP provide internal security for Camp Bastion.[3] On 12 May 2012, Cpl Brent McCarthy—an RAF Policeman stationed at RAF Brize Norton—was shot and killed while on duty in Helmand Province.[4]

The RAF Police operates all RAF military working dogs, with detachments at many RAF stations. RAF Police dogs and their handlers support overseas operations. Recently, this has included Iraq and Afghanistan, in both patrol and specialist search roles.[5]

Although members of the RAF Police are not warranted constables, the force as a whole is subject to inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, in the same way as the UK's civilian police forces.[6]


The RAF Police is headed by the Provost Marshal, who holds the rank of Group Captain. A component of the RAF's Force Protection Force, the RAFP is organised into 3 functional wings that function nationally and internationally.

Detachments of RAF Police can be found at most RAF stations. Usually, the detachment consists of a flight, commanded by a Flying Officer or Flight Lieutenant; either a Flight Sergeant or Sergeant usually function as the senior non-commissioned officer of the flight. A Warrant Officer sometimes commands a police flight in place of a commissioned officer, or acts as second-in-command of the flight at larger stations.

RAF Police flights are responsible to and directed by RAF Police squadrons. Squadrons are usually based at larger stations; squadrons are themselves responsible to, and directed by, the Provost Marshal of the RAF Police—through their respective Wing Commanders. RAF Police personnel are not responsible to, or under the direct command of, the Commanding Officer of the station at which they are situated. Their authority to act as service police stems directly from the Armed Forces Act 2006. Service police are able to issue lawful commands to any service person, regardless of their rank or trade. The RAF Police also provides the RAF's protective security (PS) role, similar to that carried out by the Intelligence Corps of the British Army. IT Security (ITSy) is a further specialisation within the protective security field and personnel trained to this level, are expected to perform all PS and ITSy related tasks.


Most Ground Trades within the Royal Air Force start their service career at RAF Halton where they undergo Basic training. Once successfully completed then recruit intakes are dispersed to the various Ground Trades Training Schools.

Potential RAF Police recruits are trained at the Defence School of Policing and Guarding (DSPG)at Southwick Park, along with the Royal Navy Police, Royal Military Police and Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS). In order to conduct some of the wider specialist roles, particularly involving the investigation of more serious and complex crime and security investigations, extensive further post-graduation training is provided outside of DSPG to all RAF Police specialists by Home Department Police Forces and Training providers. Most of the training requirements of a Home Department Police Force in terms of 'Detective' training and Covert Operations are delivered to specialist RAF Police elements.

During the 1950s, training was carried out at RAF Netheravon in Wiltshire, and in the 1960s at RAF Debden near Saffron Walden. Until the mid-1990s, trade training took place at RAF Newton in Nottinghamshire, before moving to RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. In 2004, all UK service police training was consolidated at Southwick Park.

Royal Auxiliary Air Force (Police)[edit]

No 3 (Tactical) Police Squadron (TPS) is based at RAF Honington in Suffolk as an integral part of the Tactical Provost Wing (TPW).[7]

3 (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) Police Squadron formed as a consequence of the assumptions made in the Strategic Defence Review, Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Defence (then the Rt. Hon. George Robertson MP) by Command of Her Majesty in July 1998. Specifically, this recognised that deployed air operations are likely to take place at the end of a long supply chain or line of communication. Control of this line of communication is a task which falls to two of the service police organisations: Royal Air Force Police and the Royal Military Police. To undertake this expanded task, the strength of the RAF Police was increased by a number of both regular personnel, and reservists. After a study, it was decided that the most effective way for the reservists to be formed, was as members of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. These personnel would then be integrated with the existing Tactical Police and Security Squadron to form Tactical Police Wing. Recruiting for 3 (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) Police Squadron, began in earnest in October 2002.

TPW is an independent Unit based at RAF Honington in Suffolk. The Wing has its roots in the Support Squadron of Headquarters, Royal Air Force Provost and Security Services. This was formed in 1968 to provide a force reserve for the Provost Marshal to deploy in support of operations, exercises and other contingencies. It was re-titled Tactical Police and Security Squadron in 1996 as part of an increased focus on support to deployed operations.

The primary focus for the Squadron, and latterly for TPW, has been Lines of Communication Policing and policing of deployed operations and exercises in the United Kingdom and overseas. The Wing also covers the air transport fleet worldwide, through searches of passengers and cargo. As well as guarding aircraft and cargo, and the assessment of airfield security. In addition it continues to provide Royal Air Force Police personnel for military policing and security tasks, on both deployed operating bases, and in wider operational areas. There have been few Royal Air Force operations in the last 30 years which have not seen the deployment of RAF Police personnel, including RAuxAF Police since 2002.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "RAF Police". Royal Air Force. 6 November 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  2. ^ "RAF Recruitment - RAF Police". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 24 April 2015. 
  3. ^ "7 Force Protection Wing Take Control at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan". Royal Air Force. 6 December 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "Family of Cpl Brent McCarthy pay tribute to 'perfect' son". BBC News. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "War hero RAF dog Buster bow wows out after serving FIVE tours of duty". Mail Online. 5 October 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2013. 
  6. ^ "Armed Forces Act 2011". Retrieved 2 October 2013. 
  7. ^ "RAF Recruitment - Life As A Reserve". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 24 April 2015.