Ministry of Defence Police: COVID-19 response

The Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) is ‘Proud to Serve’, remaining strong, delivering for defence and the communities it serves.

As we all continue to confront the Coronavirus pandemic, the biggest challenge the UK (and indeed the world) has faced in decades, the MDP response remains strong, delivering for defence and the communities it serves whilst playing its part in implementing new policing powers, in a rapidly changing landscape.

Initial response to a national emergency

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe during the early part of the year, with a national lockdown that commenced on 23 March, the MDP Gold Cell and Strategic Command Group, led by ACC Dave Long and ACC Andrea Bishop, pushed forward at pace with putting into practice robust business continuity plans.

The priority was, and remains, to protect all MDP personnel and their families, whilst ensuring that the MDP continues to operate effectively and efficiently throughout the crisis.

Whether in the workplace, deployed operationally or working from home, the dedication and resilience of all departments and team members across the Force has ensured the ongoing delivery of essential MDP outputs.

This was recognised by CC Andy Adams, on 26 March, just three days into the national lockdown, when he said: “As we all adapt to a new way of life and new ways of working, I want to say a huge thank you to all MDP colleagues who continue to deliver for defence and remain focused on the safety of the communities that we serve.”

An unprecedented role for policing

In frontline roles, MDP officers are playing their part, alongside colleagues in other forces, to ensure the safety of the public by using a four-phased approach to engage, explain, encourage and, only as a last resort, enforce policing powers under the Coronavirus Act 2020.

The MDP has been pleased to see most people acting responsibly and doing the right thing, by following government guidance on social distancing. However, there have been some challenges, particularly during previous unseasonably good weather and recent Bank Holiday weekends, where extra patrols and reinforced messaging have been required.

The next phase

As we have now moved into the next phase of controlling coronavirus, the MDP will continue to police by consent, using common sense and discretion to determine what is reasonable, and only enforce as a last resort.

In this together

Despite the challenges that we all face, a constant throughout the crisis has been the mantra that we’re ‘in this together’, in a national effort to fight the virus, and that has been clear to see by the MDP workforce, both in and outside the wire.

In joined up working with policing and security partners and in engagement with stakeholders, Defence personnel, and members of the public, a collective sense of positive support, empathy and compassion has outweighed negativity. That sentiment has, of course, also been expressed tangibly in all the wonderful rainbow pictures and window messages MDP officers have seen and, during the weekly Clap for Our Carers, when the Force has joined the nation to clap and sound its sirens to say thank you to the NHS, carers and all key workers for everything they have done and everything they continue to do.

image © MDP Crown Copyright 2020