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In the United Kingdom, the phrase military police is normally used to describe two main types of police: service police and regimental police. There are a number of civilian police forces whose role is to guard military facilities, but such forces are not normally included in the term "military police".

Service police[]

In the UK, "Service Police"[1] is used to describe the sections of the British Armed Forces responsible for policing the members of the armed forces. They are comparable to the provosts of other countries, however the term "provost" in the UK refers to the staff of military prisons and senior service police officers (e.g. the Provost Marshal). Each of the services has its own service police branch, a standalone unit responsible for policing, close protection of VIPs[2] and, in the case of the RMP and RAFP, other matters such as traffic control.[3][4]

Service police officers are not constables[7] and have powers over non combatants only in a very few cases.[8][9] In certain areas, service police officers patrol alongside ordinary police officers from the territorial police force - London's Soho being one example, in addition to various military towns such as Aldershot (where there are numerous barracks) and Plymouth (for HMNB Devonport).[10][unreliable source?] Service police will often assist normal police officers with arrests, and may take arrested service personnel back to their establishment.[10][unreliable source?]

All service police are trained at the Defence Police College, and utilise the Service Police Crime Bureau operated by the RNP, RMP and RAFP. Each of the four service police has its own Special Investigation Branch (SIB) to undertake investigation of more serious crime and plain-clothes investigations. The British military prison at Colchester is operated by the Military Provost Staff Corps, an all-senior NCO corps which only recruits from serving personnel. The Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS) is a service responsible for maintaining security at British Armed Forces sites in the United Kingdom.

Regimental Provost[]

In addition, the Army operates Regimental Provost, who are members of units responsible for policing in their unit alone. Members of the Regimental Provost can be identified by the brassards they wear, which carry the letters "RP". They have the power to arrest soldiers of the same or lesser rank under the Army Act 1955.

Civil police[]

Policing of military facilities, as opposed to military personnel, is conducted by ordinary police officers who are not part of the armed forces, thus they are not 'Military police'.

  • The Ministry of Defence Police is a special police force that is part of the Ministry of Defence. The force is part of the Ministry of Defence Police and Guarding Agency which was formed by the merger of the MDP and Ministry of Defence Guard Service (MGS) on April 1, 2004. It is responsible for providing Police, Investigative and Guarding services to Ministry of Defence property, personnel, and installations throughout the United Kingdom.
  • The Sovereign Base Areas Police (SBAP) provide a full range of policing for both the Eastern and Western Sovereign Base Areas of Cyprus.
  • The Gibraltar Defence Police (GSP) provide police services on MOD land and waters in Gibraltar, and have the same powers and privileges as members of the local police (the Royal Gibraltar Police) when on military land, and at the request of the Royal Gibraltar Police.[11]


  1. "The Armed Forces (Service Police Amendments) Order 2007". OPSI. 
  2. "EX LONGLOOK 06". "The second phase of my exchange was spent on the RMP CP course. From the start I have to say that it was one of the best and hardest courses I have ever attempted. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful on the course, failing on the last day, but the experiences gained from the course have been invaluable. The hours spent running up the hills around Longmoor camp were well worth it." 
  3. "A Short History of the 174th Provost Company Corps of Royal Military Police". "Initially 174 Provost Company originated during the Second World War, having been formed in 1942 to control several ports in the North East of England, where it was responsible for military traffic control and troop movement." 
  4. "Role of the RMP". "In addition to investigative support the RMP also have a distinct operational role to undertake. This is to regulate, to protect and to inform. The RMP on operations are enablers as they regulate the battlefield and move the Army forward and rearwards, in war and in support operations. Whilst some RMP companies are attached to the fighting brigades others work in the complicated rear and divisional areas. The RMP are required to make sure the Army gets to where it needs to be." 
  5. "The Deepcut Report". "I cannot remember whether it was Sergeant [B] or an RP [Regimental Provost] that punched him.... Regimental Provost is also sometimes referred to as ‘Regimental Police’ but are concerned with provost and security duties within the Regiment and are not to be confused with the RMP." 
  6. "AP 1358, Chapter 1, General Instructions". 
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Episode 3". 
  11. Section 78, Police Act 2006

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