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Trespass Military

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Dating from early 2006, the following information was passed on from press releases, unfortunately without including any citation.

Military bases given new powers to deal with infiltrators

Authorities at Britain's most sensitive military and intelligence bases have been given increased powers to deal with infiltrators, demonstrators and potential terrorists. Anyone arrested under the new Serious and Organised Crime Police Act can be jailed for up to a year and fined 5,000 for criminal trespass on Crown land if they penetrate the outer perimeters of the sites. The penalties will also apply in Scotland for anyone caught by MoD police or guards inside HM Naval Base Clyde at Faslane, or the Royal Naval Armaments Depot at Coulport. The Crown owned Clyde sites are home to Britain's nuclear submarine fleet and are protected by armed police and 500 Royal Marines from the Fleet Protection Group. The guards already have the authority to shoot anyone judged to be a threat to submarines moored alongside. Guards at US-run facilities in the UK, such as the RAF airbases at Mildenhall and Fairford in Gloucestershire and the key Menwith Hill electronic surveillance centre operated by the US National Security Agency in Yorkshire will also be able to charge intruders with criminal trespass. An MoD source said yesterday the heavier penalties for offenders amounted to "another lead weight in the boxing glove", but did not change basic security. "Unlike the Americans we do not operate a 'red line' policy within strategic bases where anyone found in certain areas can be shot automatically," he added. "Our security includes the right to shoot intruders deemed to be a threat, but it is a judgement call rather than a strict rule of engagement. We have layered security at key sites, with civilian and MoD police responsible for the perimeters. Under this legislation, demonstrators would still be able to make their point outside the base fences. If they force their way inside, they will be liable to charges of criminal trespass and the penalties that can bring."

It would appear that the initial applications of the new law are test cases to determine its impact, and it will eventually be rolled out to cover further MoD estates, selected government buildings, Royal Household estates, and civil nuclear sites such as Sellafield.


The MoD can make and revoke byelaws in respect of sites and land it owns, however there are instances where land is no longer owned by the MoD, but the byelaws are still in force, and cannot be revoked, but become unenforceable.

The Military Lands Act 1892 section 14 (1) empowers the Secretary of State for Defence to make and revoke byelaws. Where, however, land has since been sold a byelaw cannot subsequently be revoked. This is because section 14 (1) only applies to land belonging to the Secretary of State which is for the time being appropriated for a military purpose and in such circumstances this is no longer the case. Therefore in these circumstances there is no statutory power enabling Ministry of Defence to make a byelaw revoking a previous one. This means that byelaws on sites no longer appropriated for military purposes remain as live statutory instruments, but become unenforceable on the area of land not still in MoD ownership.

Civil Nuclear Constabulary

British nuclear facilities, such as nuclear power stations, are not subject to the military procedure mentioned, but are patrolled and guarded by the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC), which polices each site in line with Nuclear Industry Security Regulations[1].

The CNC works with local police services, nuclear regulators, with responsibility for the armed protection of civil nuclear facilities and materials whether they are on site or in transit, and for counter-terrorism.[2]

A BBC article looked at the CNC in 2017, and wrote about their operations and training.[3]


1 The Nuclear Industries Security Regulations 2003 Retrieved 1 June 2017.

2 About us - Civil Nuclear Constabulary - GOV.UK Retrieved 1 June 2017.

3 BBC - Future - The officers who protect Britain's nuclear plants Retrieved 1 June 2017.

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