Letter: Soldier police

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Sir: Your leading article "Squaddies on the Line" (24 January) is not far short of the mark, since Michael Portillo is at present recruiting soldiers on a new type of engagement, specifically to fulfil a policing and security role. Labelled the Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS), this new force is being formed to take over the anti-terrorist tasks that his department's civil police force lacks the manpower to cope with, since it is being pared to the bone in the interests of cost-cutting.

The MPGS will be taking to the streets of Nottingham and various other places from 1 April, and Mr Portillo is anxious to persuade local chief constables to allow his new army to carry firearms on their patrols. By the year 2000 there will be 600 of these soldiers based at army locations throughout the country.

The day when Mr Portillo sends in the military to sort out crime is nearer than we might have imagined.


National Chairman

Defence Police Federation

London WC1