The UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has submitted a joint response with the groups Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG), Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), CADNO, People Against Wylfa B (PAWB), Stop Hinkley and Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates (NWAA) to a UK Government consultation which considers the expansion and diversification of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC).
The CNC is a police force that is responsible for policing at all civil nuclear sites in the UK. The consultation is seeking views on a proposed service expansion of the CNC and how it can be most effectively achieved. It also proposes to amend legislation on the remit and powers of the CNC, allowing it “to utilise its expertise in deterrence and armed response to support other critical infrastructure sites, as well as assist other police forces in an emergency”.
The NFLA, and the local groups who campaign around developments at a number of UK nuclear sites, are concerned that the government’s plans are taking policing in the opposite direction to the one required. In our collective view, the aim should be to reduce hazardous industries, increase the resilience of critical infrastructure and at the same time increase the democratic accountability of the police.
Our response argues that, whilst the security of the UK’s civil nuclear infrastructure is important, the key to moving forward is by decreasing the threats and risks of that infrastructure, rather than increasing the powers of a centralised and armed police force.
The groups advocate this could be done by:
- Scrapping plans to use the UK’s embarrassing plutonium stockpile as reactor fuel which is likely to involve transporting weapons useable plutonium on UK roads and railways.
- Immobilising the plutonium stockpile as a waste form and storing it in a passive safe form at Sellafield.
- Environment groups have generally supported the on-site, above ground storage of spent nuclear waste fuel at the sites where it is produced thus avoiding the need to transport spent nuclear waste fuel to Sellafield. However, since EDF’s Advanced Gas Reactors will be closing over the next nine years, these transports will be ending soon in any case, thus removing another hazard that requires a police response.
- The groups who support this submission are opposed to new nuclear reactors, whether large, small or advanced. At the very least the requirement for armed policing, proliferation resistance and resilience against terrorist attack should be major factors in deciding whether to proceed with future nuclear plans. Opposition to new reactors particularly includes the concern that radioactive waste will need to be managed above ground on site until well into the 22nd century, far beyond a time when security and surveillance can be achieved.
The submission concludes:
- The idea of “the CNC needing to adapt to increase flexibility, resilience and efficiency in the face of the changing landscape” sounds disturbingly like an armed police force over which there is very limited democratic control searching for a job. Our aim should rather be reducing those hazards which require such policing as much as possible given the extent of the nuclear waste we have already created.
- CNC powers and role should be limited to civil nuclear sites, as its title implies. Any expansion to other roles and duties would require a force trained and indistinguishable to the conventional police force and would represent an expansion of nuclear police at expense of the civil police force.
- What is required is an adequately funded and democratically controlled police force capable and resourced to undertake policing including that of other critical national infrastructure sites.
- If nuclear constables are moved to other jobs in order to manage “fluctuations in demand from UK nuclear sites” there may well be crises when the same personnel are required at nuclear sites and other critical infrastructure sites. If the local police force has not developed its own capacity and resilience and is not adequately funded this could lead to a disaster.
- A nuclear force must be specifically dedicated to nuclear sites and its size related to the scale of nuclear activities. Any resources surplus to need should be deployed to support conventional democratically accountable policing.
NFLA Steering Committee Chair Councillor David Blackburn said:
“NFLA has joined with these six other campaigning groups to raise its profound concerns that an expansion of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary and an increase in its powers is moving it in the wrong direction. What is required rather is concerted efforts to reduce the risks of the UK’s nuclear legacy and to avoid developing new nuclear reactor sites. By making these nuclear sites safer there will become less of a need for an armed police force. The concerning wider push as well for new laws which could reduce peaceful protest also greatly concerns us. The proposals in this consultation move the CNC further into being an extensively armed police force, when we should instead be looking at ways to have a democratically controlled and accountable police force protecting the public in a measured way.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 07771 930196.
Notes to Editors:
(1) NFLA Policy Briefing 218 which summarises the joint submission to the BEIS consultation on the CNC is attached with this briefing and can be found on the NFLA website homepage https://www.nuclearpolicy.info