Royal Air Force Police: Wikis


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Royal Air Force Police
Active 1 April 1918-Present
Country United Kingdom
Branch Royal Air Force
Type Military Police
Role Policing and Counter-intelligence
Motto Fiat justitia (Latin: Let justice be done)

The Royal Air Force Police (RAFP) is the military police branch of the British Royal Air Force. It was formed on 1 April 1918, when the RAF was formed from the merger of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). It is responsible for policing the RAF and its installations.

Whilst commissioned officers wear standard hats, non-commissioned officers and warrant officers of the RAFP are distinguished by their white-topped caps (giving rise to their nickname of "Snowdrops"), which they have worn since 1945, and black/red/black flashes worn below their rank slides, known as "Mars Bars". Unlike their Army colleagues in the Royal Military Police, they do not wear a distinctive red beret when wearing camouflaged uniform, although they do wear 'MP' badges, the internationally recognised symbol for military police personnel.


Organisation and current role

The RAF Police is headed by the Provost Marshal, who holds the rank of Group Captain. Group Captain John Whitmell is the current Provost Marshal (RAF).

There is a detachment of RAFP on most RAF stations. Usually it is a flight, commanded by a Flying Officer or Flight Lieutenant (as OC), with either a Flight Sergeant or Sergeant as Senior Non-Commissioned Officer (SNCO) RAFP. A Warrant Officer sometimes commands a police flight in place of a commissioned officer, or acts as second-in-command in a larger flight.

Larger stations may have a security squadron, with a Squadron Leader in command as Officer Commanding (OC) Security, who is also responsible for the general security of the station. The security squadron may also encompass a flight of RAF Regiment personnel. The police flight in such a squadron is usually commanded by a Flight Lieutenant as OC RAFP, with a Flight Sergeant as SNCO RAFP.

The RAF Police also fulfills the RAF's Protective Security (PS) role, similar to that carried out by the British Army Intelligence Corps. They provide specialist PS and computer security support. Unlike their Intelligence Corps counterparts, who tend to specialise in a particular area, RAF Police PS specialists are trained in all aspects of PS. IT security (ITSy) is a further specialisation within the PS field and personnel trained to this level are expected to perform all PS and ITSy related tasks.

The modern station RAF Police flight may operate shifts, but these are usually only involved in community policing and are normally commanded by a Corporal (larger shifts may require a Sergeant). Some stations with large airheads may also operate shifts for Air Transport Security (ATSy). The police flight will normally consist of a Community Police Section, a General Police Duties Section and a PS Section.

Specialist units

Outside the unit level, the RAFP also has its own Special Investigation Branch (SIB) for the investigation of serious crime. This is effectively the RAF's version of civilian police Criminal Investigation Departments who, like them, operate in plain clothes. This is known as the Specialist Police Wing (SPW), and is split into four geographical regions covering the United Kingdom and Germany. This section of the RAFP is also responsible for forensic investigation through the RAF's own Forensic Science Flight. SPW is also responsible for the Counter Intelligence Field Force.

The RAFP also has a tactical deployable Squadron known as the Tactical Provost Squadron, whose major role is forward policing and Line of Communication Policing (LoCP) in conflict zones. The TPS (formerly known as the Tactical Provost Wing) was heavily involved in the recent Gulf conflict, and still have heavy involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan theatres of operation, in addition to other less-publicised taskings around the world.

RAFP members are also trained in Close Protection (CP) and carry out CP duties and operations wherever required to do so, ensuring the safety of VIPs and other dignitaries in hostile territories.

The RAFP operates a large Police Dog Section, with detachments at many RAF stations. These dogs are referred to as Air Dog followed by their name,[1] (Air Dog Simba, for example). RAF Police dogs and their handlers currently support overseas operations in 'hot' theatres such as Iraq & Afghanistan in both patrol and specialist search roles. As well as the usual German Shepherd dogs used for the 'attack' role, Labradors and Spaniels are well utilised for their expertise in the 'sniffer' role for drugs and explosives. An item the size of a match head, that has come into contact with drugs or explosives can be sniffed out in a room in seconds. To help train the dogs, they are made to believe that they are searching for a small ball (a toy to them) and in training - if they find the explosives the ball can be thrown at them. As a joke dogs can sometimes be given RAF NCO ranks


RAF Police are now trained at the Defence Police College, Southwick Park, along with the Royal Navy Police and Royal Military Police. Training in the 1950s was at RAF Netheravon Wilts, and in the 1960s at RAF Debden near Saffron Walden. Until the mid-1990s, trade training took place at RAF Newton in Nottinghamshire, training then moved to RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire.

Basic RAF Police training includes:

  • Police exams/assessments
  • Driving (on and off road)
  • Weapons Training (Browning Hi-Power 9mm)
  • Lines of Communication Police training
  • Air Transport Security
  • Baton and Handcuff Training
  • Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) warfare

Personnel are also required to maintain good physical fitness and this is tested 6 monthly.

Royal Auxiliary Air Force (Police)

No 3 (Tactical) Police Squadron is based at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire.


During 2005 elements of 3 TPS deployed on exercise with Territorial Army units of the Royal Military Police to Poland for Exercise Uhlan Eagle[2].

More latterly known as 3 (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) Police Squadron, No: 3 Royal Air Force (Tactical) Police Wing The (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) element is often abbreviated to (RAuxAF)

3 (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) Police Squadron formed as a consequence of the assumptions made in the Strategic Defence Review, Presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Defence (then the Rt. Hon. George Robertson MP) by Command of Her Majesty in July 1998. Specifically, this recognised that deployed air operations are likely to take place at the end of a long supply chain or line of communication. Control of this line of communication ia a task which falls to the service military police organisations: The Royal Air Force Police and the Royal Military Police. To undertake this expanded task, the establishment of the RAF Police was increased by a number of both regular personnel and reservists. After a study, it was decided that the most effective way for the reservists to be formed was as members of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. These personnel would then be integrated with the existing Tactical Police and Security Squadron to form Tactical Police Wing. Recruiting for 3 (Royal Auxiliary Air Force) Police Squadron, began in earnest in October 2002.

Tactical Police Wing is an independent Unit based at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire. The Wing had its roots in the Support Squadron of Headquarters Royal Air Force Provost and Security Services, which was formed in 1968 to provide a force reserve for the Provost Marshal, as they were then known, to deploy in support of operations, exercises and other contingencies.

It was re-titled Tactical Police and Security Squadron in 1996 as part of an increased focus on support to deployed operations.

The primary focus for the Squadron and latterly the Wing has been Lines of Communication Policing and policing of deployed operations and exercises in the United Kingdom and overseas. The Squadron and Wing also provides air transport fleet worldwide through searches of passengers and cargo, the guarding of aircraft and cargoes, and the assessment of aifield security. In addition it continues to provide Royal Air Force Police personnel to undertake military policing and security tasks on both deployed operating bases and in wider operational areas. There have been few Royal Air Force operations in the last 30 years which have not seen the deployment of RAF Police personnel including RAuxAF Police.

3 (Royal Auxiliary Air Froce) Police Squadron is totally integrated into No: 3 Royal Air Force (Tactical) Police Wing structure. Much of its support comes from Wing level resources and, in turn, personnel can expect to work directly alongside their regular counterparts. Applicants to join are invited to attend the Squadron HQ at RAF Henlow, Beds for a half day selection board. The board will include an aptitude test, interview and medical exam. Security checks and referee checks will also be carried out which can result in the selection process taking up to 4 months.

If selected recruits must complete a Basic Recruit Course held at RAF Halton. The BRC is in three phases: Phase 1 - weekend at RAF Henlow Phase 2 - Phase 3 - are residential and are for a 16 day period.

Trade Training then takes place at RAF Henlow and will be for one weekend every month. Previous service and or the persons civilian career can expedite this process at various stages.

Strategic Defence Review: [2]

RAuxAF Police [3]

Royal Air Force Henlow Bedfordshire SG16 6DN


  • Security support to RAF air transport fleet worldwide
    • Searching of passengers
    • Searching cargo
    • Guarding aircraft
  • Airfield security (in conjunction with the RAF Regiment)
  • Military police and security support to the RAF at UK airbases or on deployment worldwide.
  • Occasional deployment for surveillance of air shows such as RAF Waddington Air Show in Lincolnshire.


  1. ^ RAF Police demonstration team 2006 display notes
  2. ^ Royal Military Police journal

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