Devonport Naval Base and Dockyard is planning to use a private security contractor with the aim to save the exchequer £17 million. However, these plans have met a hurdle, with the UK’s largest union Unite stating that it would lead to security concerns.
Unite has stated that security staff that protect supermarkets could end up protecting the base and dockyard and this could pose a risk to the personnel, their families and civilian workers. The union also stated that privatising security staff would result in diminishing security standards and training.
The Ministry of Defence Guard Service (MGS) presently has 140 guards stationed at Devonport, and besides maintaining the security, the guards are also responsible for checking any vehicles entering the premises for explosives. At the moment, the MGS employs over 2,000 guards across 100 locations to provide unarmed security.
The plans to privatise guards are part of the UK Government’s Strategic Defence Security Review. It is an attempt to save the Government £17 million over a period of five years. The Review states that this saving is possible by reducing the civilian headcount.
At the moment, the plan to outsource security is waiting for official consent from the Cabinet Office. It is expected that the Cabinet Office will approve it without any problems. Once the approval comes through, private security guards will be deployed from spring 2018.
Unite National Officer for Ministry of Defence and Government Departments Mike McCartney said that the union does not support the privatisation of the MGS and feels that it would be a security risk to the Ministry of Defence sites as well as the service personnel, their families and civilians working there.
McCartney added that using a private security contractor such as G4S to provide protection to Ministry of Defence sites should cause concern among the public. Also, the union does not believe that the Ministry of Defence will be able to save money through the privatisation of security.