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Northern Ireland Security Guard Service

Volume 489: debated on Friday 13 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence with reference to the answer of 21 October 2008, Official Report, column 192W, on the Northern Ireland Security Guard Service, what progress has been made on the review of the Northern Ireland Security Guard Service; and when he expects the review to be completed. (263042)

The Northern Ireland Security Guard Service (NISGS) are MOD employees and are a professional, armed and trained body who provide security at MOD establishments in Northern Ireland. The NISGS review was initiated in order to examine the structure and responsibilities of the NISGS as part of the normalisation process. It was neither designed as a review into NISGS capability nor as a security review. It was divided into two parts: Part 1 examined the establishment (numbers) of the NISGS to support the reducing number of military bases and examine their roles and responsibilities; Part 2 was to determine future requirements including the retention of special constable (SC) status.

The paper has been staffed through the chain of command and the review is in its final stage. The decision on removal or retention of SC status is pending until consultation with trade unions is complete and resource implications are fully addressed.

We expected the review to be completed by the end of 2008 but this deadline was internal and self-imposed by HQ NI and 38 (Irish) Brigade. The review was more complex than originally anticipated with a broad range of subject matter experts’ views to be sought. Further work was therefore directed to ensure all resource implications and advice had been properly addressed. The report date was therefore slipped to the end of March 2009, with the full knowledge of both the MOD and trade unions. Trade union consultation on the findings of the review will commence shortly, before promulgation of the outcome to NISGS personnel.