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The Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) reports the fifth anniversary of deploying the counter terrorism tactic Project Servator. That’s the UK police’s visible policing tactic that aims to disrupt a range of crime, including terrorism, while providing a reassuring presence for the public.
MDP Project Servator deployments began at HM Naval Base Portsmouth, and the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) sites in Berkshire during March 2017; after an initial trial in 2016. You can now see it (at unpredictable times and exact places) at Defence HQ in Whitehall, central London; Menwith Hill outside Harrogate; and the HM Naval Bases at Clyde and Devonport. A surge capability is also available where required, for example to provide support for local and national events.
Pictured courtesy of the MoD: Supt Steffen Morgan-Fisher. He said: “We’re pleased to be celebrating five years of Project Servator in the Ministry of Defence Police.
“Project Servator deployments are integral to creating a network of vigilance and a difficult environment for criminals and terrorists to operate within, across the UK. In the MDP, we’re proud to serve and protect defence and critical national infrastructure, whilst working as part of the wider national counter terrorism and intelligence gathering context.
“During the coming year we will be expanding our use of Project Servator to other sites that we protect and by the end of April all frontline MDP officers at Whitehall will have completed Project Servator training. This will see an increase in the number of MDP Project Servator deployments in the area, so if you see us come and say hi.
“Along with our Project Servator deployments, since late 2019 we’ve delivered to more than 1490 people See Check and Notify (SCaN) training, on how to watch out for signs of potential criminal activity, working with Base security teams, partners, stakeholders, local businesses, and employers.
“I would like to thank everyone in our network of vigilant eyes and ears. The threat from terrorism to the UK is substantial, meaning an attack is likely and it is now as important as ever that everybody plays a vital role in helping us to protect defence, sites of national importance and surrounding communities, by reporting anything suspicious or that doesn’t seem right.”
Project Servator was developed and introduced by the UK official Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) and the City of London Police in 2014 and is now used by an ever-growing number of police forces in the UK, Gibraltar, and Australia.
Overs the years Professional Security magazine has visited deployments and reported from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow; the Civil Nuclear Constabulary’s take-up of Servator, at Sellafield; and by Essex Police at the Lakeside shopping mall.
Servator is a Latin word which means ‘watcher’ or ‘observer’, and during policing operations Servator officers, in uniform and plain clothes, “watch” and “observe”, using their specialist training to spot tell-tale signs of criminal activity or intent. MDP Servator teams have identified such crime as the carrying of knives, weapons, and drugs, to shoplifting, immigration and driving offences, to potential terrorist related activity, where intelligence is shared with specialist teams for assessment and possible sharing with other policing colleagues.
What you will and won’t see
– as for deployments: you can expect to see officers pop up at any time, and anywhere
– officers operating in highly visible police uniform and in plain clothes: some you will see and some you may not
– community engagement: posters and handbills are used to support deployments; feel free to ask what the officers are doing and why
– supporting resources (again, some you can see and some you won’t): these include police dogs, armed officers, vehicle engagement points, CCTV and Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR)
– joined up working with policing and security partners, including the service police, the Ministry of Defence Guard Service, and other local police forces
– social media posts, showing our deployments in operation: follow MDP on Facebook and Twitter and search #TogetherWeveGotItCovered, #ProjectServator
How you can help
If you see or hear anything suspicious or if something just doesn’t seem right, trust your instincts, and report it to a police officer or member of security or staff immediately. Reports can also be made in confidence on the ACT website. To report suspicious activity to the MDP, call 0300 1232 101. In an emergency, always call 999.