Royal Air Force Police

Royal Air Force Police

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=Royal Air Force Police

dates=1 April 1918-Present
country=United Kingdom
branch=Royal Air Force
type=Military Police
role=Policing and Counter-intelligence
motto="Fiat Justitia" (Latin: Let justice be done)

The Royal Air Force Police (RAFP) is the military police branch of the British Royal Air Force. It was formed on 1 April 1918, when the RAF was formed from the merger of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). It is responsible for policing the RAF and its installations.

Members of the RAFP are distinguished by their white-topped caps (giving rise to their nickname of "Snowdrops"), which they have worn since 1945, and black/red/black flashes worn below their rank slides, known as "Mars Bars". Unlike their Army colleagues in the Royal Military Police, they do not wear a distinctive red beret when wearing camouflaged uniform, although they do wear MP flashes on the sleeve of their uniforms not unlike their army counterparts.

Organisation and current role

The RAF Police is headed by a Provost Marshal, who until recently held the rank of Air Commodore. The RAF Police have recently undergone a period of downsizing in line with reductions across the RAF in both manpower and aircraft. The Provost Marshal now holds the rank of Group Captain,currently Group Captain Gary Horscroft in 2008 with an Air Commodore of the RAF who is currently an RAF Regiment Officer being in overall charge of security for the RAF. The Provost Marshal is assisted by other Provost Officers (formerly known as Assistant Provost Marshals - APM), who are in charge of the RAF Police on a unit level and are responsible for advising the Station Commander on all aspects of policing and security.

There is a detachment of RAFP on most RAF stations. Usually it is a flight, commanded by a Flying Officer or Flight Lieutenant (as OC), with either a Flight Sergeant or Sergeant as Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) RAFP (sometimes referred to as the "Sheriff"). A Warrant Officer sometimes commands a police flight in place of a commissioned officer, or acts as second-in-command in a larger flight.

Larger stations may have a security squadron, with a Squadron Leader in command as Officer Commanding (OC) Security, who is also responsible for the general security of the station. The security squadron may also encompass a flight of RAF Regiment personnel. The police flight in such a squadron is usually commanded by a Flight Lieutenant as OC RAFP, with a Flight Sergeant as SNCO RAFP.

The RAF Police also fulfills the RAF's counter-intelligence (CI) role, similar to that carried out by the British Army Intelligence Corps. They provide specialist counter-intelligence and computer security support. Unlike their Intelligence Corps counterparts, who tend to specialise in a particular area, RAF Police CI specialists are trained in all aspects of the counter-intelligence field. Computer security (CSy) is a further specialisation within the CI field and personnel trained to this level are expected to perform all CI and CSy related tasks.

The modern station RAF Police flight may operate shifts, but these are usually only involved in community policing and are normally commanded by a Corporal (larger shifts may require a Sergeant). Some stations with large airheads may also operate shifts for Air Transport Security (ATSy). The police flight will normally consist of a Community Police Section, a General Police Duties Section and a CI Section.

Specialist units

Outside the unit level, the RAFP also has its own Special Investigation Branch (SIB) for the investigation of serious crime. This is effectively the RAF's version of civilian police Criminal Investigation Departments. This is known as the Specialist Police Wing (SPW), and is split into four geographical regions covering the United Kingdom and Germany. This section of the RAFP is also responsible for forensic investigation through the RAF's own Forensic Science Flight. SPW is also responsible for the Counter Intelligence Field Force.

The RAFP also has a tactical deployable Squadron known as the Tactical Police Squadron, whose major role is forward policing and Line Of Communication Policing (LoCP) in conflict zones. The TPS (formerly known as the Tactical Police Wing) was heavily involved in the recent Gulf conflict, and still have heavy involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan theatres of operation, in addition to other less-publicised taskings around the world.

RAFP members are also trained in Close Protection (CP) and carry out CP duties and operations wherever required to do so, ensuring the safety of VIP's and other dignitaries in hostile territories.

The RAFP operates a large Police Dog Section, with detachments at many RAF stations. These dogs are referred to as Air Dog followed by their name, [RAF Police demonstration team 2006 display notes] (Air Dog Simba, for example). RAF Police dogs and their handlers currently support overseas operations in 'hot' theatres such as Iraq & Afghanistan in both patrol and specialist search roles. As well as the usual German Shepherd dogs used for the 'attack' role, Labradors and Spaniels are well utilised for their expertise in the 'sniffer' role for drugs and explosives. An item the size of a match head, that has come into contact with drugs or explosives can be sniffed out in a room in seconds.


RAF Police are now trained at the Defence Police College, Southwick Park, along with the Royal Navy Service Police and Royal Military Police.Training in the 1950's was at RAF Netheravon Wilts, and in the 1960's at RAF Debden near Saffron Walden.Until the mid-1990s, trade training took place at RAF Newton in Nottinghamshire, training then moved to RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire.

Basic RAF Police training includes:
* police exams/assessments
* driving (on and off road)
* weapons training
* Lines of Communication Police training
* Air Transport Security
* Baton and handcuff training
* Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare

Personnel are also required to maintain good physical fitness and this is tested 6 monthly.

Royal Auxiliary Air Force (Police)

3 Squadron, Tactical Provost Squadron is based at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire.

During 2005 elements of 3 TPS deployed on exercise with Territorial Army units of the Royal Military Police to Poland for Exercise Uhlan Eagle [Royal Military Police journal] .


* Security support to RAF air transport fleet worldwide
** Searching of passengers
** Searching cargo
** Guarding aircraft
* Airfield security (in conjunction with the RAF Regiment)
* Military police and security support to the RAF at UK airbases or on deployment worldwide.
* Occasional deployment for surveillance of air shows such as RAF Waddington Air Show in Lincolnshire.

External links

General information:
* [ Close Protection World] (Website and Forum for Close Protection and for the security industry)


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