Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation

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RAF Police



With the recent establishment of the Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS) on RAF stations to undertake armed guarding and security tasks and the introduction of the RAF Force Protection Organisation in 2003, the RAF Police have been subjected to large-scale reductions in personnel and a major realignment in the way the branch supports global RAF tactical operations and joint military manoeuvres. In April 2005 as part of Project Darwin, the former RAF Provost & Security Services (P&SS), located at RAF Henlow in Bedfordshire, was renamed as the Headquarters Provost Marshal (RAF) (HQPM(RAF)). The Air Commodore relinquished his office as Provost Marshal (PM(RAF)) to a provost Group Captain before taking up his new appointment as Assistant Chief of Staff Force Protection; Commandant General RAF Regiment & Air Officer RAF Police. The change at the top was brought about to allow the Air Commodore to concentrate on directing the wider aspects of Force Protection, whilst allowing the Group Captain to independently manage all police investigatory functions. While the Air Commodore remains the figurehead of the branch in his capacity as Air Officer RAF Police, he has no remit to investigate or influence criminal or security matters. Although the new PM(RAF) is tasked to report through the Air Commodore to the Air-Officer-Commanding No 2 Group (HQ Air Command) in respect of normal police and security matters, he retains direct access to the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) in respect of investigative affairs. As part of the restructuring, the Specialist Police Wing (SPW), under the command of a wing commander was formed, to take over the functions previously carried by P&SS, and comprises three single-capability squadrons; RAF Special Investigation Branch (SIB), Counter-Intelligence Squadron (CIS) and Security Services Squadron (SSS). The SSS in its entirety is based at RAF Henlow with HQPM (RAF), along with the nucleus and command structure of the SIB and CIS, while elements of expertise from the SIB and CIS are established at three dispersed units; HMS Caledonia (Scotland), RAF Cranwell (Lincoln) and RAF Halton (Buckinghamshire) to provide prompt professional specialist support to RAF unit commanders. Plans are currently in hand to divide RAF Police resources within the UK into three wings; General Police Wing (GPW)(5 squadrons), Specialist Police Wing (SPW) (3 squadrons) and Tactical Police Wing (TPW) (3 squadrons; 2 regular and 1 RAuxAF).


At the beginning of 2007 the establishment of the RAF Police stood at 188 commissioned officers, 44 warrant officers and 1,438 NCOs. In April 2007, following on from Project DARWIN 2; the second phase of re-structuring the RAF Police, the stage is set for the PM(RAF) to exercise command over all RAF Police personnel serving within HQ Air Command, which amounts to about sixty-five percent of the RAF Police establishment. Those not subject to his direct control will include personnel serving with TPW who, for the time being, will remain under the command of the Force Protection Organisation and personnel employed with joint units overseas such as Gibraltar, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands. With MPGS established on RAF stations to undertake guarding and routine security commitments, there is no longer a requirement to staff individual RAF stations with police flights in the traditional way. As such, five numbered RAF Police squadrons are being formed around the country, as part of General Police Wing, to undertake general police duties, higher level security tasks and Air Transport Security operations on and off RAF stations within their respective area of responsibility. The units chosen to base the district headquarters of each squadron are; RAF Brize Norton, RAF Coningsby, RAF Lossiemouth, RAF Marham and RAF Waddington. While each squadron commander and his small management team will operate from the district HQ, the majority of RAF Police personnel assigned to each squadron will be attached to RAF stations within their respective district. The elements of expertise from SPW, comprising SIB and CIS, established at HMS Caledonia, RAF Cranwell and RAF Halton will continue to operate as before.


Since November 2005, all RAF Police training has been carried out at the Defence Police College at Southwick Park in Hampshire, an establishment shared with the Royal Naval Provost Branch and the Army’s Royal Military Police. In addition to initial police training for new recruits and provost officers, specialist post graduate courses are offered in respect of Air Transport Security training, Special Investigation training, Crime Scene Forensic training, Counter-Intelligence training and Computer Security training. Other specialist police and security training courses, such as the Home Office Detective training course, continue to be conducted at other service or civil police establishments around the UK, while basic and specialist training courses for dog handlers are conducted at the Defence Animal Centre, Melton Mowbray.

In November 2005 ‘RAF Police Dogs on Patrol’ was published and ‘RAF Police Operations in Europe was published in November 2006. ‘RAF Police – Cape Town to Kabulwill be published towards the end of 2007 and ‘RAF Police – Bombay to Ascension’ and ‘Those Blooming Snowdrops’ the year after. These books are not on sale in book shops & can only be ordered direct from the publisher:

Woodfield Publishing Limited, Woodfield House, Babsham Lane, Bognor Regis, West Sussex PO21 5EL

Tel: 01243 821234   Fax: 01243 821757



RAF Police: The Great Escape Murders    ISBN 1-84683-086-9


By  Stephen R Davies                         COST  £15-00


It gives me great pleasure to inform you all that my new book is now on sale and can be obtained direct from Woodfield Publishing. It is an account of the official RAF Police investigation into the murders of 50 RAF POWs from Stalag Luft III in 1944.

This book tells the remarkable story of the Great Escape made by British, Commonwealth and Allied prisoners-of-war from Stalag Luft III in March 1944, the brutal murder of fifty of the recaptured RAF officers by the Gestapo on the personal orders of Hitler, the story of those recaptured and sent to concentration camps and the subsequent complex post-war investigation carried out by the Royal Air Force Police Special Investigation Branch, which identified those responsible ~ all the way from German High Command down to the Gestapo executioners who carried out their orders.

The wanted men from the Gestapo and Kriminalpolizei (Criminal Police) who survived the war were swiftly hunted down in the chaos of worn-torn Europe, rounded up as war criminals by the small but dedicated RAF Police investigation team and later brought to justice in Hamburg. Sixteen of those found guilty by the International and British War Crimes Tribunal were sentenced to death and were hanged at Nuremberg and Hamburg, while a further four were hanged by the authorities in Czechoslovakia for a variety of war crimes against humanity. Others found guilty by the tribunals of complicity received various terms of imprisonment.

Regrettably, a change in British government policy in 1948 prevented others who had been arrested by the RAF Police from being prosecuted by the International War Crimes Tribunal and in most cases they walked away as free men, in spite of the blood on their hands.

This remarkable war crimes investigation, the only one of its kind entrusted to a British military police force, began at the end of hostilities in 1945. Over 23 years later, in 1968, one of the last suspects in the case was traced and convicted by a West German Court for his part in this infamous wartime mass murder.




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205 x 290 mm

number of pages



b/w photos and sketches


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