Royal Air Force Police

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Royal Air Force Police
Royal Air Force Police Crest
Active 1 April 1918 - Present
Country United Kingdom United Kingdom
Allegiance HM The Queen
Branch  Royal Air Force
Type Service Police
Role Policing and Counter-intelligence
Motto Fiat justitia
(Latin: Let justice be done)
March RAF Police March Past
Website Royal Air Force Police
Provost Marshal
Group Captain Kevin Bailey
RAF Ensign Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Tactical Recognition Flash RMP TRF.svg

The Royal Air Force Police (RAFP) is the service police branch of the Royal Air Force, headed by the Provost Marshal of the Royal Air Force. It was formed on 1 April 1918, when the RAF was formed by the merger of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. It is responsible for the policing and security of all service personnel, much like their Royal Navy or British Army counterparts. At the end of WWII there were 500 officers & 20,000 NCOs in the RAFP. In January 1947, the RAF Provost Branch became a Specialist Branch within the RAF. In December 1950, His Majesty King George VI, approved the Griffin Badge and Motto ‘Fiat Justitia'. By 2009, the RAFP had, since 1918, served in 66 countries around the globe and today deploy throughout the world to support RAF and UK defence missions. The Headquarters of the RAF Police is at RAF Honington alongside the RAF Regiment.

RAF Police non-commissioned officers and warrant officers are noticeable by their white-topped caps (giving rise to their nickname of Snowdrops), which they have worn since 1945, and by black and red flashes worn below their rank slides. RAF Police commissioned officers wear the standard peaked cap of all Royal Air Force officers, with the red and black flashes. In dress uniform, all RAFP wear a red and black brassard on the left arm, reflecting the flashes worn with normal working dress. All RAFP personnel wear red 'MP' badges, the internationally recognised symbol for military police, with tactical dress.


  • Provision of policing, counter-intelligence and specialist security support to the RAF, including:
    • Front line/Response/ General Policing Duties
    • Criminal and security investigations
    • Aircraft protection and security
    • Threat assessment against terrorism, espionage, subversion, sabotage and Organised Crime to RAF operations
    • Cyber and information security
    • Military working dogs
    • Force protection (on deployed operations and in co-operation with the RAF Regiment)
    • Close protection of VIPs
    • Close support of other UK military units [1]

In addition to general policing, the RAFP has specialist security and criminal investigators tasked with the investigation of more serious and complex crime and security threats. This capability is supported with forensic and intelligence units. Members of all wings are used for operations overseas, deploying as individuals, with the aircraft they support, or as a formed unit drawn together under the Tactical Police Squadrons. Members of the RAFP may also specialise in close protection duties, ensuring the safety of VIPs and other dignitaries in hostile environments.[2]

The RAF Police operates all RAF military working dogs, with detachments at many RAF stations. RAF Police dogs and their handlers support overseas operations. Recently, this has included Iraq and Afghanistan, in both patrol and specialist search roles.[3]

Although members of the RAF Police are not constables, the force as a whole is subject to inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, in the same way as the UK's civilian police forces.[4]


The RAF Police is headed by the Provost Marshal, who holds the rank of Group Captain. A component of the RAF's Force Protection Force, the RAFP is organised into 3 functional wings that function nationally and internationally.

The RAF Police is divided into three functional wings. No 1 RAF Police Wing covers the North of the UK and Northern Ireland and No. 2 RAF Police Wing the south. Each provideds decicated security and policing to the RAF Units and interests in its area and each has specialist investigative squadron. No. 3 RAF Police Wing provides deployable and specialist support worldwide. It incorporates No.1 Tactical Provost Squadron (TPS) (formerly the Tactical Provost Wing) forms the RAF Police's tactical, deployable capability. Their primary role is to conduct forward policing and security of RAF personnel and assets. The Tactical Provost Squadron has deployed personnel on operations to Afghanistan; where, as part of the RAF's Force Protection Wing, the RAFP provide internal security for Camp Bastion.[5] On 12 May 2012, Cpl Brent McCarthy—an RAF Policeman stationed at RAF Brize Norton—was shot and killed while on duty in Helmand Province.[6] In addition 3 Police Wing includes all RAF Police Reserves 3 Tactical Police Squadron and 603 (City of Edinburgh) Royal Auxiliary Air Force Squadron. 3 RAF Police Wing moved to RAF Honington in 2015 to provide a single hub for RAF Force Protection [7] [8]

Detachments of RAF Police can be found at most RAF stations. Usually, the detachment consists of a flight, commanded by a Flying Officer or Flight Lieutenant; either a Flight Sergeant or Sergeant usually function as the senior non-commissioned officer of the flight. A Warrant Officer sometimes commands a police flight in place of a commissioned officer, or acts as second-in-command of the flight at larger stations.

RAF Police flights are responsible to and directed by RAF Police squadrons. Squadrons are usually based at larger stations; squadrons are themselves responsible to, and directed by, the Provost Marshal of the RAF Police—through their respective Wing Commanders. RAF Police personnel are not responsible to, or under the direct command of, the Commanding Officer of the station at which they are situated. Their authority to act as service police stems directly from the Armed Forces Act 2006. Service police are able to issue lawful commands to any service person, regardless of their rank or trade. The RAF Police also provides the RAF's protective security (PS) role, similar to that carried out by the Intelligence Corps of the British Army. IT Security (ITSy) is a further specialisation within the protective security field and personnel trained to this level, are expected to perform all PS and ITSy related tasks.


Most Ground Trades within the Royal Air Force start their service career at RAF Halton where they undergo Basic training. Once successfully completed then recruit intakes are dispersed to the various Ground Trades Training Schools.

Potential RAF Police recruits are trained at the Defence School of Policing and Guarding (DSPG)at Southwick Park, along with the Royal Navy Police, Royal Military Police and Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS). In order to conduct some of the wider specialist roles, particularly involving the investigation of more serious and complex crime and security investigations, extensive further post-graduation training is provided outside of DSPG to all RAF Police specialists by Home Department Police Forces and Training providers. Most of the training requirements of a Home Department Police Force in terms of 'Detective' training and Covert Operations are delivered to specialist RAF Police elements.

During the 1950s, training was carried out at RAF Netheravon in Wiltshire, and in the 1960s at RAF Debden near Saffron Walden. Until the mid-1990s, trade training took place at RAF Newton in Nottinghamshire, before moving to RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire. In 2004, all UK service police training was consolidated at Southwick Park.

See also


  1. "RAF Police". Royal Air Force. 6 November 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "RAF Recruitment - RAF Police". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 24 April 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "War hero RAF dog Buster bow wows out after serving FIVE tours of duty". Mail Online. 5 October 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "Armed Forces Act 2011". Retrieved 2 October 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "7 Force Protection Wing Take Control at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan". Royal Air Force. 6 December 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Family of Cpl Brent McCarthy pay tribute to 'perfect' son". BBC News. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 29 January 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>