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Volume 494: debated on Monday 22 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether it is Royal Navy policy to disarm but not detain suspected pirates who have not launched any attack. (281403)

The Royal Navy will always seek to interdict any vessel they suspect as being directly involved in carrying out or planning acts of piracy, however, every incident will differ. The decision on whether or not to detain suspected pirates is the responsibility of the UK Maritime Component Commander, based on legal advice given to him in theatre.

If it is considered that there is sufficient evidence on which to charge suspected pirates they will be detained and subsequently transferred to a regional state for prosecution. If, after thorough investigation, there is insufficient evidence on which to charge suspected pirates, they will be released. Any piracy equipment, such as ladders and weapons, which are found will be seized.

The Royal Navy can take robust action to come to the aid of a victim vessel under attack by pirates in international waters. This can range from deterring and disrupting the attack to the use of reasonable force to defend the victims.