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Personal Protection Training

Volume 528: debated on Wednesday 18 May 2011

3. Whether he has reviewed the personal protection training plan for Government workers and VIPs in Northern Ireland in the light of recent trends in terrorist activity; and if he will make a statement. (55381)

The Government regularly review the guidance issued to staff on personal security and make them aware of any changes in the terrorist threat. The Chief Constable is responsible for the operational provision of close protection, which can include Government workers and VIPs.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his reply. Can the Minister assure the House that, following the terribly sad death of Constable Kerr, specific training methods are being put in place to help protect VIPs, policemen and the like against the threat of under-car booby-traps?

Yes, I can. My hon. Friend will know, as he did many tours in Northern Ireland, that the enemy to personal security is complacency. It is incumbent on all those employed by the state in one way or another to be vigilant at all times. The Chief Constable goes to bed thinking about the security of his policemen and women and he wakes up thinking about them, too, as do we in the Northern Ireland Office.

The Minister will be aware that a small number of civilians work in security establishments in Northern Ireland, particularly in areas with a high dissident terrorist threat. He should also be aware that I wrote to him some three months ago about one such person who was trying to get a personal protection weapon to ensure his safety as he went to and from his work. Will the Minister ensure that he gets in touch with the Chief Constable to ensure that person’s safety, in so far as that can be guaranteed, in the light of this threat?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. We take applications for PPW licences extremely seriously and they are looked into in great detail and independently assessed. I am aware of the case to which the hon. Gentleman refers and we will get back to him once we have all the necessary details.