I have tabled some Parliamentary Questions for written answer about how Britain’s nuclear sites are protected. This is part of my wider campaign to ensure that the critical national infrastructure is adequately protected. There is a special police force (the Civil Nuclear Constabulary) to protect nuclear power stations, other nuclear installations and the transport of nuclear materials. It is funded by the nuclear industry and it does not come within the statutory remit of the Home Office. The force itself is heavily armed, so one of the questions I am asking is what steps are being taken to ensure that the training and skills of police officers working in it (along with those in a similar position like the British Transport Police and the Ministry of Defence Police) are consistent with those of other police forces.
The other issue is about resourcing. The Civil Nuclear Constabulary effectively provides services under a service level agreement to its paymasters, the nuclear industry. Whilst the industry will be concerned that security standards are adequate, there is no guarantee that their assessment of what is needed (given that it costs them money) will be the same as the Government’s or even what any of us as intelligent lay people might feel is necessary when we think about the consequences of nuclear materials falling into the wrong hands. Accordingly, I am asking who is responsible for assessing the security risks associated with the protection of (a) the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant and (b) Dounreay nuclear establishment and how is that risk assessment fed into the funding and support for the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and who is responsible for assessing whether the arrangements to protect civil nuclear establishments are adequate.
Necessarily, the Civil Nuclear Constabulary might have to rely on reinforcements from regular police forces in the event of any emergency. However, as nuclear installations are in remote areas, the speed of response provided and the capacity of the forces concerned to assist may be limited. Therefore, I have also asked about who is responsible for assessing whether the support available to the Civil Nuclear Constabulary from other police forces is adequate.
I hope I will be reassured by the answers.