Anti-terror patrols secretly stepped up at power stations
By Jason Lewis, Daily Mail, 11th August 2008
Massive expansion of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary is being secretly planned to protect Britain 's most vulnerable terrorist targets.
The Mail on Sunday has learned that it will be transformed into the Critical National Infrastructure Police and mount armed patrols around all key installations nationwide, including power stations, phone and computer networks, oil and gas pipelines, ports and airports.
Secret negotiations also include taking over responsibility for protecting Government buildings and key economic targets.
Drax in Yorkshire may be one of the power stations guarded by the force.
The Civil Nuclear Constabulary is already responsible for guarding all nuclear power stations and other nuclear installations.
The 800-strong force also protects nuclear material when it is moved around the country and investigates any attempt to steal or smuggle atomic material. Its officers are routinely armed and it has 17 regional headquarters, mainly at nuclear plants around the UK .
Richard Thompson, a former Foreign Office counter-terrorism expert who has served in Iraq , took over the force in June last year and has been carrying out strategic reviews to prepare for its expanded role.
The intention is that the force, which has a £50million-a-year budget, will have more officers and take over policing other power stations, critical telecom buildings, gas installations, fuel dumps, airports and other key terror targets.
Richard Thompson's force will guard power stations across the UK
It is also expected to take over protecting Britain 's main sea ports, some of which have their own tiny forces, such as Dover Port Police which has 50 officers.
The Critical National Infrastructure force is expected to be announced as part of Security Minister Lord West's review of Britain 's preparedness for terrorism.
He has been focusing on security around chemical, biological and nuclear material, which terror groups such as Al Qaeda are trying to obtain to use in attacks. Last night, Lord West acknowledged that expansion of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary's role was 'one of a number of options available'.
Britain already has an intelligence agency, the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, which is overseen by MI5, looking at terror threats to key installations and businesses.
In his first annual report, released last month, Mr Thompson said: 'The role of the constabulary is shaped by the persistent and uncompromising challenge of the terrorist threat.'
He added that the force was doing more 'to integrate ourselves further into the national counter-terrorist architecture'.