Fears over pri­vate se­cu­rity at bases

Union says Tesco on a Mon­day, nu­clear subs the next day

Lennox Herald - - NEWS - Jenny Foulds

Se­cu­rity con­cerns have been raised af­ter plans were re­vealed to pri­va­tise the Min­istry of De­fence Guard Ser­vice (MGS) — af­fect­ing 400 staff at Faslane and Coul­port.

The MoD has out­lined pro­pos­als to sell off thou­sands of MGS jobs in a bid, which it is un­der­stood will save £18mil­lion over five years.

De­fence chiefs are con­sid­er­ing at­tract­ing bids from pri­vate se­cu­rity firms, such as G4S and Mi­tie, to run the ser­vice which cur­rently em­ploys 2100 civil­ian staff across the UK.

But union Public and Com­mer­cial Ser­vices (PCS) has launched a cam­paign to try and over­turn the move— dub­bing it “ex­tremely dan­ger­ous”.

They say any di­lu­tion of the cru­cial ser­vice could cause se­ri­ous se­cu­rity lapses at the two Royal Navy nu­clear sites.

A spokesman said: “No one wants to see some­one guard­ing Tesco on a Mon­day and nu­clear subs on a Tues­day.

“These sites need a ded­i­cated and pro­fes­sional guard­ing ser­vice and many of our MGS mem­bers have pre­vi­ous military ex­pe­ri­ence and pro­vide ‘de­fence eyes’.

“The sim­ple ques­tion is, why put the safety of these sites at risk for the sav­ings on of­fer?”

The union say the move is part of the UK Gov­ern­ment’s Strate­gic De­fence and Se­cu­rity Re­view mea­sures to re­duce the civil­ian head­count.

Speak­ing on be­half of the PCS cam­paigns team, Sean Sweeney said, if suc­cess­ful, the com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion would have a “mas­sive im­pact” on the hun­dreds of peo­ple who guard the nu­clear sub­marines at Faslane and the Tri­dent war­head stor­age site at Coul­port.

He said: “Those em­ploy­ees, our mem­bers, are civil ser­vants who know only too well what the con­se­quences of be­ing trans­ferred over to a [pri­vate] com­pany would mean for them and their fam­i­lies.

“The sites on the Clyde are, un­doubt­edly, the most sen­si­tive and high pro­file in the whole of the MoD.

“For most, the idea of even con­sid­er­ing to pri­va­tise any el­e­ment of se­cu­rity on those sites would be com­plete lu­nacy and we feel that, in choos­ing to tar­get a se­cu­rity or­gan­i­sa­tion within the MoD, the depart­ment are only just be­gin­ning to un­der­stand the public and po­lit­i­cal sen­si­tiv­i­ties sur­round­ing such a pro­posal and we feel con­fi­dent that we can stop them in their tracks.

“The main is­sue here re­lates to whether the re­spon­si­bil­ity for se­cur­ing the sites that con­tain such ma­te­rial should re­main with trusted public ser­vants or be del­e­gated out to com­pa­nies whose main pri­or­ity is de­liv­er­ing profit to their share­hold­ers.”

The MGS pro­vide un­armed guard­ing du­ties at MoD sites through­out the UK but PCS say the sites on the Clyde are the most high-pro­file and pose the most no­table se­cu­rity ques­tions.

The PCS spokesman added: “It’s an ex­tremely dan­ger­ous path that the MoD are pur­su­ing, risk­ing the se­cu­rity at such im­por­tant sites for neg­li­gi­ble fi­nan­cial sav­ing.”

The case for going to the mar­ket and invit­ing bids is said to be await­ing Cab­i­net Of­fice ap­proval and the ex­pec­ta­tion is that this will be granted.

Ar­gyll and Bute MP Bren­dan O’Hara, whose con­stituency cov­ers the two Royal Navy sites, blasted the move, say­ing: “Com­ing only days af­ter prom­ises to plough fur­ther public money into the Tri­dent re­newal pro­gramme and the in­crease of per­son­nel to be trans­ferred to the Faslane base over the next few years, we can­not play fast and loose with se­cu­rity at the base. The lo­cal com­mu­nity and the staff at both Faslane and Coul­port must have ab­so­lute con­fi­dence that the fa­cil­i­ties are se­cured by the very best se­cu­rity ser­vices avail­able.”

A MoD spokesman said: “We are re­view­ing the way we pro­vide our guard­ing at some sites but would never make changes that put safety and se­cu­rity in jeop­ardy. No fi­nal de­ci­sions have been made and se­nior staff, trade unions and se­cu­rity rep­re­sen­ta­tives will be en­gaged in this process.”

Safety fears Faslane could have a pri­vate se­cu­rity firm

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