Britain Does Things a Little Differently

Royal Navy’s new patrol vessel HMS Tamar is ready for action and will be based in Portsmouth. An offshore patrol vessel, similar in many respects to a Coast Guard cutter. (Picture source: Royal Navy)

Many other countries do not have a coast guard that serves as a maritime law enforcement agency. Their solutions for maritime law enforcement frequently fall on their navies. Recently Great Britain has seen a need for a change.

Thanks to Brymar Consulting for bringing this to my attention.


Published 17 December 2020, from Ministry of Defence

Statutory Instrument on Royal Navy Police enforcement powers

A Regulation has been introduced to the Policing and Crime Act 2017 to provide Royal Navy Police with enforcement powers as the transition period for Britain’s exit from the EU comes to an end.

The Ministry of Defence has laid a Statutory Instrument in Parliament to introduce a Regulation under the Policing and Crime Act 2017. This will provide Royal Navy Police with additional law enforcement powers as the transition period for Britain’s exit from the EU comes to an end. Additional powers would come into effect on Thursday 07 January 2021 and will apply to England and Wales territorial waters only.

The Government is determined to ensure the security of UK waters from a range of threats under all circumstances. Contingency work for the end of the EU Transition Period has identified that there may be an operational requirement to extend law enforcement powers to Royal Navy Police.

Royal Navy personnel already routinely conduct enforcement activity in UK waters and Royal Navy Police are specially trained to conduct a range of enforcement activity safely and in line with civilian policing procedures. Currently, any interventions at sea are joint operations between the police and military. However, the deployment of civilian police officers to a maritime incident may be impractical in some circumstances. Providing extra powers will give greater flexibility to authorities to act effectively.

Royal Navy Police will only use these powers if requested to do so by civilian police forces. No decisions on the use of enforcement will be taken independently by military personnel, and the new powers are only extended to Royal Navy Police, a specific branch of the Royal Navy with trained military police officers.

The extension of enforcement powers to Royal Navy Police will be reviewed in six months.

11 thoughts on “Britain Does Things a Little Differently

    • Not gona happen anytime soon because of posse comitatus act would have to be amended and as of right now, the USCG is the only Dual Military/Federal Law Enforcement

      • Actually applying Posse Comitatus to services other than the Army is a matter of policy not law.

        Still don’t expect any changes. The Navy does not want to do SAR, law enforcement, or buoy tending. And I doubt they would not do them as well. Just not their job description.

  1. We are woefully under prepared for ‘police work’ in our EEZ. I can see a need for 6 to 8 more hulls. And more aircraft, a lot more aircraft.

      • Yes. The RN is enjoying a boom in recruitment. But retention of experienced personnel is still a problem. I am not sure though if this is an RN problem. Border Agency crews are experienced but they are not police or ‘sailors’.

      • Don’t know if we are still doing it, but for a while, the US Coast Guard was loaning the Royal Navy engineering petty officers. They were assigned to Type 23 frigates.

  2. When I said ‘I am not sure though if this is an RN problem.’ I mean the policing of the EEZ and our territorial waters. Retention is most definitely an RN problem.

    I knew about Coasties being drafted to Type 23’s. I am not sure if it is going on still.

      • I am aware of what our naval service does and does not do thank you.

        My point was whether this ‘coast guard’ type work in UK waters should stay with the RN. And whether Border Agency who also do customs work (including drug traffic interdiction) as well as control illegal immigration should stay in its current form too. Within our territorial waters policing is a function of the closest police force.

        Scotland’s EEZ fisheries are policed by Marine Scotland. Inshore firsheries protection rests with county councils.

        Not enough assets compared with our European neighbours.

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