They are distinct from their civilian counterparts as they have unique operational tasks that have no equivalence in civil society. The RMP deploy as part of the field army, both at home and overseas, in support of the full spectrum of conflict, conflict prevention and post conflict operations.
Whilst other agencies can, and do investigate crime committed by or against members of the Defence Department, it is the Service Police alone who have the unique capability to deliver the full range of policing functions, throughout the spectrum of conflict, at home and abroad. The policing capability required by the Army in the UK, Germany and other overseas Stations is provided by the RMP.
Service Justice System
Supporting the Service Justice System (SJS) will invariably be the highest priority for the RMP, who alone have the unique capability to deliver the full range of policing functions throughout the spectrum of conflict at home, in overseas garrisons and on operations. This police service must be proactive and visible, contributing to success on operations by enforcing the law, deterring crime and thus underpinning the SJS.
Investigations conducted on operations must be to the same high standard as those conducted in the home base, producing professionally compiled case reports that show due regard to the laws of evidence and the Service Police Codes of Practice. In high intensity conflict and on peace support operations the investigative procedure is the same. The investigations are to be conducted independently of the chain of command and any contentious issues will be referred to HQ PM(A) for technical advice and guidance.
Incidents and offences
Offences, or incidents reported to the RMP for enquiry are tiered into four levels each determined by a combination of the gravity, type, and complexity of the case to be investigated
- Level 1 Level 1 investigations deal with those offences or incidents reported to or detected by the RMP, that are within the competence and capability of a trained RMP JNCO and which can normally be completed within a prescribed period.
- Level 2 These investigations require a more protracted investigation which should be conducted by, or under the supervision of, a RMP NCO who has either received more specialised training or by virtue of experience and competence, is able to effectively investigate this level.
- Level 3 Level 3 investigations are those that by nature of their gravity or complexity normally require investigation by trained SIB Investigators.
- Special Special enquiries deal with offences or incidents reported to or detected by the RMP which attract special status. SIB will normally investigate them. Some of these investigations might initially have been Level 1, 2 or 3 categories, but because of their sensitivity or other surrounding circumstances they are accorded special status. The SIB investigates a myriad of offences from murder to fratricide. The high profile nature of these investigations often draws great media and governmental attention.
On planned Operations and when embedded in a routine UK forces patrol, RMP is the specialist military police element who provides specialist advice directly to the commander. Topics include arrest and detention, searches of people, property or vehicles, incident control, and crime scene management.
The RMP also have the appropriate training and experience to assist with evidence collection - all NCOs are forensically aware and trained in police search procedures, including the recovery, collection and collation of exhibits. SIB offer a unique capability with trained Crime Scene Investigators deployed in every theatre. During planned operations RMP may act as evidence handlers and collators working in close cooperation with All Arms Search Teams (AAST's), and possibly the Royal Engineers Search Advisor (RESA). During these operations there are three categories of evidence collection:
- Normal Evidence. Usually recovered, bagged and tagged bysearch teams, and collated by the RMP. The capturing soldier will accompany those individuals who have been detained to a UK Holding Facility (possibly with RMP) where both the evidence and detainee is handed over to the SIB and Military Provost Staff (MPS) personnel. In more benign operations, RMP may have a more extensive role to play, such as the provision of Incident Control Teams.
- High Profile and Life Threatening Finds. These categories of find should be recovered and collated by the RMP and handed over to the SIB. If necessary they can be passed to specialist personnel who will retain them for exploitation.
- Information Gathering. Through policing activities RMP can gather, process, and assimilate information and intelligence. This information and intelligence is collected through routine patrols, establishing and monitoring pattern of life activity, and general situational awareness.
- Arrest and Detention. RMP will provide the specialist oversight and surety to the correct handling and processing of Prisoners of War, Internees, and Detainees in accordance with policy. RMP are not to be involved in the tactical questioning of any PW, internee or detainee.
- Training and Monitoring of Civil and Military Police Forces. Immediately after the cessation of hostilities there may be a capability gap during which there is a requirement to train and mentor the civilian and military police forces. While the lead might often be with FCO, this gap might be filled by the military. The initial use of RMP to train these police forces in the broader sense might be acceptable and should not be discounted.
RMP can provide basic police training in the form of an investigative capability with crime scene management, interviewing skills, file preparation and possibly forensics. The longer term training requirements should be met by others such as contracted specialists or a civil police training team.
Close Protection (CP)
RMP provide CP personnel and training for others on CP duties, both for at risk military personnel and those of other Government Departments. RMP provides a core of trained manpower at high readiness to cover contingencies and can also generate Short Term Training Teams.