Royal Military Police

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Royal Military Police
Royal Military Police cap badge
Active 28 November 1946–Present
Country  United Kingdom
Branch  British Army
Role Military Police
Size 2,500
RHQ RMP Defence College of Policing and Guarding
Nickname(s) Redcaps
Monkeys (derogatory)[1]
Motto Exemplo Ducemus
By example, shall we lead
Beret Red
March The Watchtower (Hoch Heidecksburg)
Colonel-in-Chief HM The Queen
Deputy Colonel Commandant Lieutenant-General Sir Nick Carter
Tactical Recognition Flash RMP TRF.svg

The Royal Military Police (RMP) is the corps of the British Army responsible for the policing of service personnel, and for providing a military police presence both in the UK and while service personnel are deployed overseas on operations and exercises. Members of the RMP are often known as 'Redcaps' because of the scarlet covers on their peaked caps, or scarlet coloured berets.

The RMP origins can be traced back to the 13th Century but it was not until 1877 that a regular corps of military police was formed, with the creation of the Military Mounted Police (MMP). This was followed by the Military Foot Police (MFP) in 1885. The Military Mounted Police first engaged in combat in 1882 at the Battle of Tel el-Kebir. Although technically two independent corps, the two effectively functioned as a single organisation. In 1926, they were fully amalgamated to form the Corps of Military Police (CMP). In recognition of their service in the Second World War, they became the Corps of Royal Military Police (RMP) on 28 November 1946.

On 6 April 1992 the RMP amalgamated into the Adjutant General's Corps (AGC),[2] under whose overall command they form part of the AGC's Provost Branch.

Non-commissioned members of the RMP receive their basic training as soldiers, at the Army Training Regiment in Winchester. They then receive further training at the Defence College of Policing and Guarding. RMP commissioned officers are trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, as are all other British Army officers.

The regimental march of the RMP is "The Watchtower" or "Hoch Heidecksburg" originally a German Army marching tune from 1912 by Rudolf Herzer. The RMP motto is Exemplo Ducemus, Latin for "By example, shall we lead".


The Provost Marshal is a post which goes back to the 13th century and was originally an under-officer of the Earl Marshal.[3] In 1685 the role of Provost Marshal General became a permanent post.[3] The Military Mounted Police was formed in 1877 and the Military Foot Police was formed in 1885.[3]

During the First World War the Military Police grew from 508 all ranks to over 25,000 all ranks by the end of the War.[3] During the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 the Military Police served the Army as a whole rather than just individual units.[3]

On 27 February 1926 the Corps of Military Police was formed by merging the Military Mounted Police and the Military Foot Police.[3]

During the Second World War the Military Police grew from 4,121 all ranks to over 50,000 all ranks within six major branches of specialists:[3]

  • Special Investigation Branch – The S.I.B. was first formed in 1940, with 19 detectives from the Metropolitan Police transferred to the Army for deployment in France. From this small beginning the Branch expanded into numerous Sections which were deployed both in the U.K. and overseas, providing the Corps with its own Criminal Investigation Department to conduct more detailed and protracted investigations into organised crime and serious offences such as murder.
  • Provost Wing – Responsible for general policing. Provost Companies were included in the order of battle of Home Commands, Armoured, Infantry and Airborne Divisions, as well as at Army and Corps level and with independent Brigades. From 1942, "Ports Provost" Companies were raised, consisting of a mix of Provost and Vulnerable Points Sections, which were deployed on security and policing duties within ports and docks.
  • Vulnerable Points Wing – Formed in 1941 to provide security of static locations and establishments. They were known as "blue caps" from the Oxford blue cloth covers worn on their service dress caps. Originally intended to act as static Companies and detachments, VP Coys were later deployed in North West Europe, guarding prisoner of war camps and other static installations. The VP Wing was quickly phased out at the end of the war, but re-appeared briefly in the Supplementary Reserve/Army Emergency Reserve between 1950 and 1961.
  • Traffic Control Wing – Formed in 1941, TC Coys were deployed throughout the United Kingdom, releasing Provost Companies from the tasks of traffic control. TC Coys were later deployed in the Middle East, Italy and North-West Europe. The Wing was phased out of the Corps by 1946.(Many sources over the years continue to erroneously state that personnel of the Traffic Control Wing wore white cloth cap covers. This is not the case. CMP (TC) personnel did not wear cap covers when on duty, unless they had undergone a basic course in police duties, in which case they were authorised to wear red top covers as per the Provost Wing).
  • Field Security Wing – First formed in 1937, personnel of the F.S.W. wore Lincoln green cap covers and brass shoulder titles on their tunics with the letters "FSP", to distinguish them from the rest of the Corps. They wore the standard CMP cap badge, but unofficially ground down the wording "MILITARY POLICE" from the lower scroll of the badge. In July 1940 the Wing was absorbed into the new Intelligence Corps.

In November 1946 King George VI granted the 'Royal' prefix to the Corps of Military Police in recognition of its outstanding record in two World Wars and the Corps became known as The Corps of Royal Military Police, though abbreviated to Royal Military Police (RMP).[3] From 1969 the Corps made an important contribution during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.[3]

On 6 April 1992 the RMP amalgamated into the Adjutant General's Corps (AGC),[2] under whose overall command they form part of the AGC's Provost Branch alongside the also pre-existent Military Provost Staff Corps and the later-formed Military Provost Guard Service. Although they lost status as an independent corps, they were permitted to retain the Royal Military Police title and cap badge.


An RMP NCO—accompanied by an MDP officer (right)—patrol Exeter city centre on OP Dissuade, the policing of alcohol-related disorder committed by off-duty service personnel in 2006.

As well as policing service personnel whilst at home in the UK, the Royal Military Police are required to provide a capable military police presence in support of military operations overseas.

In the United Kingdom and British overseas garrisons

Broadly speaking, within the United Kingdom and its overseas garrisons, the Royal Military Police are responsible for policing service personnel. In garrison towns, the RMP often assist the local territorial police force in town centres at venues where service personnel are likely to frequent. Some Royal Military Police NCOs are allocated roles working on Service Family Accommodation (SFA) estates, such as Community Liaison Officers and Crime Reduction Officers. Part of this role involves visiting schools in the SFA catchment area, where the school's children come from service families. In the UK, this work is often done in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence Police.

Some of the specific roles the RMP fulfill include:[4]

  • Law enforcement and crime prevention, within the service community
  • Assistance to civilian police forces in garrison towns

When deployed on operations

File:Para Provost DZ Badge.jpg
RMP Para Provost DZ Flash (16 Air Assault Brigade)

The Royal Military Police are required to provide tactical military police support to the British Army in military operations. When deployed, some of the roles the RMP fulfill include:[4]

  • War crime investigations
  • Handling and collating criminal evidence
  • Reconnaissance patrols
  • Detainee handling
  • Search operations
  • General policing duties within operational bases
  • Foreign police and military training
  • Provide close protection operatives for senior military personnel on operations[5][6]


In the United Kingdom

Royal Military Police personnel are not constables under UK law and do not have any specific police powers over the general public, only whilst dealing with service personnel. However, the RMP can utilise the powers, available to all persons in England and Wales, under Section 24(A) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984; which allows any person to arrest any individual they have reasonable grounds to believe is committing, or has committed, an indictable offence, and that a constable is not available to perform the arrest.[7] They are allowed to use such force as is reasonable in the circumstance to achieve this.[8] The RMP are subject to inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, in the same way as UK civilian police forces.[9]

RMP personnel sometimes have powers, conferred by Military lands byelaws, to give lawful directions to civilians who are on Ministry of Defence land affected by such byelaws. This may included the power to regulate vehicular and pedestrian traffic, close or restrict access, or to direct civilians to leave Military land to which the byelaws apply. The particulars of these powers are highly changeable and are determined by each individual Statutory Instrument.[10][11]

A member of the Royal Military Police can arrest any individual in the UK whom he has reasonable grounds to believe to be a serving member of HM Armed Forces and he has committed a relevant civil or military law offence.[12] RMP personnel do not have to be on Ministry of Defence land to exercise their authority over service personnel.[4] The RMP also have police powers over personnel of the other two branches of the Armed Forces: the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. The Royal Navy Police and RAF Police also have reciprocal police powers over British Army personnel.[13]

Postings overseas

Where service personnel are deployed overseas, the Royal Military Police are often called upon to provide a complete policing service. In these situations, members of the Royal Military Police can often exercise police powers in respect of civilians subject to service discipline. This includes, not exclusively, service dependents and overseas contractors sponsored by the British Army.[13]

In Germany, under the Status of forces agreement, the RMP has jurisdiction and primacy over British service personnel, their families, MoD contractors, and NAAFI staff.[14] The German civil police only normally become involved where the interests of a German national are concerned.[14]


Royal Military Police Opel Vectra patrol car in Germany

Royal Military Police personnel undertaking general police duties are equipped with extendable batons, Hiatt speedcuffs and Airwave personal radios.[15]

The RMP also uses the Home Office Large Major Enquiry System, known as HOLMES.[16]


RMP commissioned officers attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, as do all other British Army officers. Other ranks recruits undertake their phase 1, Common Military Syllabus (Recruits) training at the Army Training Regiment in Winchester. They then move onto Phase 2 which is undertaken at the Defence College of Policing and Guarding.[17]

The training syllabus includes:


The regimental headquarters of the RMP moved to MOD Southwick Park, near Portsmouth in February 2007. It is co-located with the tri-service Defence College of Policing and Guarding.[18] The RMP training centre moved there on 27 September 2005 from the RMP's long-standing RHQ at Roussillon Barracks in Chichester, West Sussex. The Service Police Crime Bureau is also located at MOD Southwick Park and is staffed by personnel from the Royal Military Police, Royal Air Force Police and Royal Navy Police.

The RMP museum has also moved to MOD Southwick Park.[19]

Colonels Commandant

Colonels Commandant include:[20]

Current RMP units

Current RMP units include:[24][25]

Great Britain

  • 1st Military Police Brigade
  • 1 Regiment RMP
  • 3 Regiment RMP
  • 4 Regiment RMP
  • Special Investigation Branch (UK) (SIB (UK) RMP)
  • 1 Investigation Company
  • 2 Investigation Company
  • 3 Investigation Company
  • 4 Investigation (Special Crimes Team) Company

Northern Ireland

  • Northern Ireland Detachment, 174 Pro Coy 3 RMP[citation needed]
    • Weapons Intelligence Section (WIS)
    • Legal Process Office (LPO)
    • 38 Sect, 1 (Inv) Coy SIB Regt RMP[citation needed]

Each individual regular RMP company will have smaller Police stations and Police posts at other locations in their area where there is a sizeable Army presence.

  • Special Investigation Branch (G) (SIB (G) RMP)
    • HQ SIB (G)
    • Specialist Support Unit (Crime Scene Management and Technical Support)
    • 70 Section SIB (G)
    • 72 Section SIB (G) (Gütersloh Detachment)
    • 72 Section SIB (G) (Bielefeld Detachment)
    • 74 Section SIB (G) (Sennelager)
    • 76 Section SIB (G) (Now Bielefeld Detachment)
    • 87 Section SIB (G) (Monchengladbach, co-located with 101 Provost Company)

Other units

The RMP are also currently deployed (22.5% of manpower) around the world in Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.[18]

Operation Telic casualties

British operations in Iraq, including the 2003 invasion, were carried out under the name Operation Telic, which claimed the lives of several members of the RMP.

  • 24 June 2003, Majar al-Kabir, Iraq
    • Sergeant Simon Hamilton-Jewell
    • Corporal Russell Aston
    • Corporal Paul Long
    • Corporal Simon Miller
    • Lance Corporal Benjamin Hyde
    • Lance Corporal Thomas Keys

All personnel shown above were from 156 Provost Company RMP (16 Air Assault Brigade). This incident represented the largest loss of life, on a single day, in RMP history.[26]

  • 23 August 2003, Basra, Iraq
    • Major Matthew Titchener, 150 Provost Company
    • Company Sergeant Major Colin Wall, 150 Provost Company
    • Corporal Dewi Pritchard, 116 Provost Company (V)
  • 31 October 2004, Basra, Iraq
    • Staff Sergeant Denise Rose, SIB
  • 15 October 2005, Waterloo Lines, Basra, Iraq
    • Captain Ken Masters, Officer Commanding 61 Section SIB[27]
  • 8 July 2007, Basra, Iraq
    • Corporal Christopher Read, 158 Provost Company, 3rd Regiment RMP[28]

Operation Herrick casualties

  • 30 May 2007, Kajaki, Helmand Province
    • Cpl Mike Gilyeat, Royal Military Police[29]
  • 7 May 2009, Gereshk, Helmand Province
    • Sgt Benjamin Ross, 173 Pro Coy, Royal Military Police
  • 22 October 2009, Gereshk, Helmand Province
    • Cpl James Oakland, 156 Provost Company RMP[30][31]
  • 3 November 2009, Nad-e Ali, Helmand Province
    • Cpl Steven Boote, 116 Provost Company, Royal Military Police
    • Cpl Nicholas Webster-Smith, 160 Provost Company, Royal Military Police[32][33]
  • 18 November 2009, Nad-e Ali, Helmand Province
    • Sgt Robert David Loughran-Dickson, 160 Provost Company, 4th Regiment Royal Military Police[34]
  • 20 December 2009, Sangin, Helmand Province
    • LCpl Michael David Pritchard, 160 Provost Company, 4th Regiment Royal Military Police[35]

The RMP in popular culture

Redcap, an ABC television drama series which aired from 1964 to 1966, starred John Thaw as SIB investigator Sergeant (later Staff Sergeant) John Mann.[36]

Red Cap, another television drama series, which aired in 2003 and 2004, starred Tamzin Outhwaite as Sergeant Jo McDonagh, also an SIB investigator.[37][38]

Soldier Soldier, a television drama series about an infantry company which aired from 1991 to 1997, featured Holly Aird as Corporal (later Sergeant) Nancy Thorpe RMP.[39][40]

The Investigator (aired 1998) starred Helen Baxendale as an RMP Staff Sergeant. It is about life in the British forces at a time when being homosexual was banned and had serious repercussions, and is based on a true story.[41]

The Real Redcaps was a television documentary series about the Royal Military Police which aired from 2003 to 2005. It shows the RMP in the Second Gulf War, their training in (then) Colchester, Close Protection (CP) training, SIB work in Iraq, and other duties such as policing troops in Germany. It also shows the Military Provost Staff Corps Military Provost Guard Service manning MCTC Colchester.[42]

7 Seconds is a 2005 Hollywood feature film starring Wesley Snipes, that follows the actions of female Royal Military Police Sergeant Kelly Anders (Tamzin Outhwaite). When an experienced thief accidentally makes off with a valuable Van Gogh painting, his partner is kidnapped by gangsters in pursuit of the painting, forcing the thief to hatch a rescue plan, in which he joins forces with RMP Sgt Anders along the way.[43]

In the 2014 film Edge of Tomorrow, acting as guards around the Army's command post in London, military personnel wearing the 'MP' arm band and scarlet berets are shown throughout the film. In one of the chase scenes, RMP troops pursued Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) where a RMP soldier in a mechanical suit stops Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) by destroying the front of his getaway car, leading to his capture.

See also


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  2. 2.0 2.1 Adjutant General's Corps: History
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 "Royal Military Police: History". Retrieved 9 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 "Role of the RMP – British Army Website". Retrieved 2012-05-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Royal Military Police – British Army Website". Retrieved 2012-05-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Ministry of Defence (2012-08-07). "Royal Military Police train for close protection". Retrieved 2013-10-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984". Retrieved 2012-05-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Criminal Law Act 1967". Retrieved 2013-10-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Armed Forces Act 2011". Retrieved 2013-10-02.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Military Lands Act 1892". Retrieved 2013-10-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Military Lands Byelaws". Defence Estates. Retrieved 2013-10-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Armed Forces Act 2006
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Armed Forces Act 2006". Retrieved 2012-05-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. 14.0 14.1 "NATO – Official text: Agreement between the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty regarding the Status of their Forces, 19-Jun.-1951". 1951-06-19. Retrieved 2012-05-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "Airwave". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 9 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  18. 18.0 18.1 RMP Journal
  19. Welcome to the new British Army Website – British Army Website Archived June 30, 2013 at the Wayback Machine
  20. "Colonels Commandant of the Corps of Royal Military Police" (PDF). Retrieved 9 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. "DEMPSEY, Gen Sir Miles Christopher (1896–1969)". King's Collections. Retrieved 9 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44539. p. 2660. 5 March 1968. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  23. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 52885. p. 6178. 6 April 1992. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
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  25. "Army Reserve 2020 Structure and Basing Changes" (PDF).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
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  27. "Suicide in Basra: The unravelling of a military man". London: The Independent. 31 July 2006. Retrieved 22 May 2010. After a flawless military career that had seen him rise to the rank of captain in just 15 years, the task of leading the British Military Police's investigative unit in Basra should have been the crowning achievement for Ken Masters, a soldier for whom, on missions from Afghanistan to Bosnia, the glass was always half full.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. Oracle News[dead link]
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  36. Redcap on IMDb
  37. "BBC Red Cap Show page". Retrieved 2013-10-05.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  38. Red Cap (TV Series 2003–2004)at IMoB database
  39. Soldier Soldier on IMDb
  40. Soldier Soldier[dead link]
  41. "Interview: Helen Baxendale: A good time to be a bad girl". The Independent. 16 February 1997. Retrieved 9 May 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  42. The Real Redcaps, Produced by Anglia Television/Channel Television/Meridian Broadcasting for ITV 2005
  43. 7 Seconds on IMDb


External links