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Nuclear Policing in Britain

NCJ Number
L Johnston
Date Published
27 pages
This paper examines the debate surrounding new legislation regarding Great Britain's Atomic Energy Authority Constabulary (AEAC), followed by a description of the current structure of the AEAC and consideration of related issues; possible future changes in the policing of nuclear installations in Britain are discussed as well.
The AEAC was established by the Atomic Energy Act of 1954; the AEAC now provides police services for the various Atomic Energy Authority sites. Nuclear power stations employ their own in-house and contract security. The AEAC is one of a number of "special police forces" whose existence and powers derive from a specific act of Parliament. Concern about terrorist incidents led to the enactment of the Atomic Energy Authority (Special Constables) Act of 1976. This legislation extended the jurisdiction of AEAC officers to any place in Great Britain where it appears expedient for them to go. The legislation also deemed AEAC officers to be Crown Servants for the purposes of Section 54 of the Firearms Act 1968, enabling them to carry arms without the issue of individual certificates. Some of the issues debated in association with these mandates are the appropriate balance between secrecy and public debate, accountability, civil liberties, and relations between AEAC and Home Office forces. In considering the future of security forces at nuclear sites, the author discusses spatial restructuring (centralization versus decentralization) and sectoral restructuring (the use of private police). 40 notes