This article is organised as follows:
- Part 01: Introduction to the UK’s Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC).
- Part 02: Role of the MPS and Types of Detainee.
- Part 03: Hierarchy, Organisation, and Functions.
- Part 04: MCTC Training Programme.
- Part 05: MPS Recruitment and Selection.
- Part 06: Regulation, Oversight, and Associations.
- Part 07: Miscellaneous.
PART ONE: BACKGROUND
This article provides an overview of the United Kingdom’s Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC), commonly referred to as ‘The Glasshouse’ or ‘Colly’.
“The MCTC is the army’s and services only central place of detention. It is not a prison: detention is a lesser punishment than imprisonment and the ethos is more focused on rehabilitation.” (Corcoran, 2010, p.3).
The Glasshouse has been referred to as “a prison for soldiers”, “a rehabilitation centre”, and as “a detention centre” (Kotecha, 2013). It is the only custodial centre of its kind in Britain, and is available to the British Army, Naval Service (Royal Navy and Royal Marines), and Royal Air Force.
The MCTC is located at Berechurch Hall Camp in Colchester, Essex, and is the armed services’ only corrective training establishment. MCTC “…is not a prison nor is it subject to prison guidelines.” (FOI 2022/100336).
Although under Army command, it is a tri-service establishment with both staff and detainees from the Naval Service (Royal Navy and Royal Marines), British Army and Royal Air Force. All detainees are held in accordance with the rules determining committal to custody within the extant military legislation (the Armed Forces Act 2006 as at 2018).
The majority of detainees are serving periods of detention following court martial or a summary hearing by their commanding officers. Most detainees have offended against Armed Forces law (employment law rather than criminal law), and few are committed for offences that would have resulted in custody had they been civilians. The centre only receives those who have been sentenced to periods of up to two years’ detention.
The Military Provost Staff (MPS), like the Royal Military Police (RMP), are distinct from their civilian counterparts in HM Prison Service. Manned wholly by volunteer transfers from the armed forces, their main task is to provide rehabilitation training within a secure environment for Service personnel who are either to be retained in the Service or be dismissed.
The manning of the detention companies within the MCTC and the provision of military instruction to service personnel under sentence is their main role at home. Outside MCTC they provide a custodial service to the operating forces, conducting mandatory inspections of Unit custody facilities, and investigate incidents in unit guardrooms, which relate to custody.
The MPS also provide the Unit Custody Staff Course (UCSC), which trains unit regimental police personnel in the operation of unit custody facilities.
Critically the MPS also provide operational support through the provision of advice on Prisoner of War (Captured Person, CPERS) handling through the Provost staffs. They provide the technical advice required to the PW/CPERS Guard Force and monitor the PWs/CPERS in custody. Like the RMP, the MPS operational role in Peace Support Operations (PSO) has historically sent them to deal with the myriad of custodial issues that affect host nations in the event of the collapse of Law and Order.
In recent history MPS have been responsible for the provision of custodial facilities for indigenous criminals and internees. In Iraq they were responsible for the regeneration of the Iraqi Custodial System. The MPS are deployed today providing technical custodial advice in Iraq to the Security Sector.
The aim of this article is to provide a brief outline of the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC), a British Army operated tri-Service establishment within the Ministry of Defence (MOD).
1.2 Brief History
Prior to 1895, garrison troops were used to provide the guards for military prisons, with the first military prisons being established in 1844. Prisoners within the military penal system were treated harshly, with hard labour being a frequent task, for example punitive exercises such as ‘shot drill’ – the shifting of a pyramid of heavy shot from one place to another, which was widely practised.
In the spring of 1895, a committee was formed under Lord Monkswell to consider the regulations affecting the discipline and diet of soldiers confined in military prisons and to report whether any changes were desirable.
A person of importance during this period was (Honorary) Lieutenant Colonel Michael Clare Garsia who was the Inspector General of Military Prisons.
Retiring from the British Army in 1878 in the rank of Captain, Garsia was awarded the honorary rank of Major, joining the Prisons Department. In 1881, he was the Deputy Governor of Wormwood Scrubs Prison and was also awarded the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel. In 1891 he was appointed as Secretary of the Prisons Board and Inspector of Civil Prisons. He was appointed Commissioner of Civil Prisons and Inspector of Military Prisons in 1895 and Inspector General in 1898.
Although reforms from the committee’s recommendations were taking effect, Garsia wanted to go further by recommending, in an initial report as Inspector General, that in future military prisoners report in uniform and carrying their kit – the maintenance of which was to form part of their military training. Prison Governors would be expected to take military parades and inspect their charge as soldiers.
In a subsequent report as Inspector General, Garsia mentioned that he had difficulty in recruiting warders capable of carrying out instruction within the new system, recommending that staff be made up of senior non-commissioned officers (SNCO’s) who possessed military spirit and were thoroughly efficient as instructors. Garsia then laid down the qualities and qualifications he would require for this new Corps of men, which would become the Military Prison Staff Corps (MPSC).
In December 1901 Garsia’s recommendations were sanctioned and His Majesty, King Edward VII, ordered the formation of the MPSC by issuing Army Order 241, and the MPSC slowly started taking over the staffing of military prisons and detention establishments both domestically and internationally.
“The Military Provost Staff Corps was responsible for discipline and for guarding wayward soldiers in detention centres, the Military Provost Staff Corps was formed in 1901 (as the Military Prison Staff Corps), adopting the royal cipher and crown as its badge. The cypher of King George VI was adopted in October 1937. Otherwise similar to the badge of the Royal Norfolk Yeomanry, that of the MPSC was some 12mm smaller” (Doyle & Foster, 2012, p.108).
The old civilian warders were not happy, although some did enlist in the Army to join the MPSC, as they felt everything was becoming too easy and slipshod, but Governors began asking for the new SNCOs as they were engendering a new spirit amongst the prisoners.
In 1906, due to the success of the new system, further changes were introduced. The Military Prison Staff Corps was renamed the Military Provost Staff Corps (MPSC), and some of the prisons were renamed Detention Barracks (DB). Service personnel were given DB numbers and were no longer called prisoners, but Soldiers Under Sentence (SUS) – meaning they no longer had the stigma of prison attached to them.
During this period, the Depot for the MPSC was shared with that of the Corps of Military Police, located at Mychett Hutments in Ash Vale, Hampshire.
From 1939 to 1966 the prison at Shepton Mallet, Somerset, was used as a British Army military prison, but having been returned to civilian use was closed in March 2013 (Shute, 2013; Jailhouse Tours Ltd, 2018). It was utilised an American military prison between 1942 and September 1945, housing some 768 soldiers. The last death sentence at Shepton Mallet occurred in 1945 under military use.
“At the end of 1944, it was guarded by 12 officers and 82 enlisted men. 18 American servicemen were executed, 16 hanged and 2 shot by firing squad.” (Jailhouse Tours Ltd, 2018).
Shepton Mallet has the distinction of being the longest operating general prison in the UK from its opening in 1610 as a civilian ‘house of correction’ to its closure in March 2013 – although it was briefly closed between 1930 and 1939 due to underuse. Soldiers held at Shepton Mallet included the Kray twins, London gangsters, who were serving out their national service after absconding.
In 1940, the main military prison was located at Aldershot, and known as ‘The Glasshouse’. The term came from the large glass lantern roof on the building; a term that came to be used for all military prisons. It had been built in 1870 to house soldiers sentenced for military offences, and was designed to hold 150 prisoners – although by 1946 it held over 400.
Prior to World War II, there were military prisons at Aldershot, Barlinnie (Glasgow), and Shepton Mallet. Due to the outbreak of the war, two detention barracks for deployment in the field had been established. In addition, members of the MPSC operated prisons and detention barracks at Malta, Jamaica, Singapore, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Tientsin, Shanghai, Cairo, Khartoum, and in Palestine.
In 1942, the site of MCTC Colchester was a prisoner of war camp, No. 186, holding some 6,000 mostly German prisoners, who built Nissen huts to live in. In 1946/7, it became a military prison, and was renamed the MCTC in 1955.
On 23 February 1946 the Aldershot ‘Glasshouse’ witnessed a riot lasting 24 hours, causing considerable damage. Due to the extent of the damage prisoners were moved to other military prisons, and the original Glasshouse was not restored.
In 1976, MCTC Colchester became the only military establishment of its type following the closure of MCTC Stonecutters Island, Hong Kong.
The foundations for the rebuild of the MCTC Colchester, in its current form and finally replacing the Nissen huts, were laid in 1983 and the SUS moved into the new accommodation in 1986.
In 1988, the official opening of MCTC Colchester was carried out by the then Secretary of State for Defence.
06 April 1992, the ‘federated’ Adjutant General’s Corps (AGC) was formed from the Royal Army Pay Corps, the Corps of Royal Military Police, the Military Provost Staff Corps, the Royal Army Educational Corps, the Army Legal Corps and the Staff Clerks from the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (London Gazette, 1992, p.6178). The Military Provost Staff Corps was renamed the Military Provost Staff (MPS) and, with the Royal Military Police, formed the Provost Branch of the AGC (London Gazette, 1992) – joined in 1999 by the Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS).
In the mid-1990s, the UK Government announced two intensive regimes for young offenders at (Farrington et al., 2000; Farrington et al., 2002):
- Thorn Cross Young Offender Institution (YOI) in July 1996; and
- The MCTC, the ‘Colchester YOI’, in February 1997.
The purpose of the Colchester YOI was to test the effectiveness of a regime similar to that followed by military detainees in improving the attitude and behaviour of young offenders and in reducing the level of their re-offending after release (Hansard, 1996). It was to have a maximum of 32 young men aged between 18 and 21. The Colchester YOI was operated under YOI rules and HM Prison Service policy. It had HM Prison Service and military staff, with the Commandant MCTC acting as the Governor (a contentious issue raised by the Prison Governors’ Association as to whether the Commandant was competent to be Governor of a YOI; eventually agreed he was) and a HM Prison Service Governor grade as deputy.
When the new Labour government took office on 02 May 1997 they were not committed to the Colchester YOI and announced its closure barely twelve months after it started, and when only “44 offenders had passed through its regime.” (Wilson, 2014, p.323). One factor in its closure was the estimated cost:
“Each place cost £850 per week, which compared badly to the cost of £250 per week in other young offender institutions.” (Wilson, 2014, p.323).
You can read the reports below:
- Evaluation of Intensive Regimes for Young Offenders (Farrington et al., 2000).
- Evaluation of Two Intensive Regimes for Young Offenders (Farrington et al., 2002).
The term SUS is no longer used, being replaced by Detainee Under Sentence (DUS) or Detainee Not Under Sentence (DNUS).
As part of Army 2020 (an organisational restructuring process) the MPS will witness (Molinelli, 2014):
- An increased Regular MPS capability to number 191 personnel (up from 106 personnel), together with an enduring Reserve component;
- In future Tier-1 Service Custody Facilities (SCF) in Garrisons will be manned by MPS, along with the Tier-2 Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC). The aim is to professionalise and optimise Firm Base custody thereby increasing surety; and
- An enlarged MPS better able to meet future contingency capability by drawing across the whole MPS structure to deploy personnel to man Tier-3 Operational Facilities.
Also formed under Army 2020 was the 1st Military Police Brigade, reaching full operational capability in July 2015, which includes the:
- Military Provost Staff Regiment (MPS Regt), located in Colchester;
- Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC), located in Colchester; and
- Regional Service Custody Facilities.
PART TWO: ROLE OF THE MPS AND TYPES OF DETAINEE
“Only soldiers (or those otherwise within army remit) are held at MCTC, although civilians who are subject to service law may on occasion be held there.” (Corcoran, 2010, p.3).
This part of the article outlines the role of the MPS, the role and purpose of the MCTC, and the types of detainee.
2.1 Role of the MPS
The MPS, like the Royal Military Police (RMP), are distinct from their civilian counterparts in HM Prison Service. Manned wholly by volunteer transfers from the armed forces, their main task is to provide rehabilitation training within a secure environment for Service personnel who are either to be retained in the Service or be dismissed.
The manning of the detention companies within the MCTC and the provision of military instruction to Service personnel under sentence is their main role at home.
Outside MCTC, MPS personnel provide a custodial service to the forces conducting mandatory inspections of Unit custody facilities, and investigate incidents in unit guardrooms, which relate to custody.
The MPS also provide the Unit Custody Staff Course (UCSC), which trains Unit Regimental Police personnel in the operation of unit custody facilities.
Critically, the MPS also provide operational support through the provision of advice on Prisoner of War (PW) handling through the Provost staffs. They provide the technical advice required to the PW Guard Force and monitor the PWs in custody. Like the RMP, the MPS operational role in Peace Support Operations (PSO) has historically sent them to deal with the myriad of custodial issues that affect host nations in the event of the collapse of Law and Order.
In recent history MPS have been responsible for the provision of custodial facilities for indigenous criminals and internees. In Iraq they were responsible for the regeneration of the Iraqi Custodial System and provided technical custodial advice to the Security Sector.
2.2 Role and Purpose of MCTC
The principal function of the MCTC is to detain personnel, both male and female, of the three Services and civilians subject to Service Discipline Acts, in accordance with relevant legislation (Section 5.1).
Therefore the aim of MCTC is twofold (Corcoran, 2010):
- To send Service personnel who have broken military rules back into service with basic military training and the will to become better Service person’s; and
- For those being discharged from the Service, to provide vocational training in order to prepare them for being better citizens.
“…the regime is designed to rehabilitate Service personnel and either make them fit for further duty in the Services or prepare them for transition to a useful role in civilian society after dismissal or discharge.” (Judge Advocate General, 2018, p.9).
2.3 Types of Detainee at MCTC
“Sentences of (Service) detention of eight days or more are served in the Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC) at Colchester…” (Judge advocate General, 2018, p.9).
Although the MCTC is not a prison, it does have a special unit for those who are being transferred to HM Prison Service to serve their sentences.
The MCTC can hold up to “323” (HMIP, 2015) Service personnel, up from 267 in 2008 (HMIP, 2008), who have been sentenced to periods of detention from fourteen (14) days up to two (2) years, or those in safe custody. Generally, the population rarely exceeds 180, routinely holding approximately 50. In September 2022, the MOD stated (FOI 2022/100336) that current “MCTC capacity is 264 spaces.”
Detainees are classified into one of two main categories and two/three sub-categories:
- Detainees Under Sentence (DUS): DUS have been sentenced to a period of service detention.
- Those Service personnel who are to remain in the Services after sentence will serve their detention in A Company.
- The aim is to return re-trained Service personnel to their Service to continue their career.
- Those Service personnel who are to be discharged/dismissed after their sentence will serve their detention in D Company.
- Focuses less on military training and contains a significant element of pre-release training aimed at rehabilitation and resettlement, thereby assisting the Service person to make a successful transition to civilian life.
- Those Service personnel who are to remain in the Services after sentence will serve their detention in A Company.
- Detainees Not Under Sentence (DNUS): DNUS have not been sentenced to a period of service detention but a judge Advocate has authorised their retention in Service custody.
- Detainees under investigation (pre-charge).
- Detainees awaiting trial (post-charge).
- Sentenced by Court Martial to a period of imprisonment (i.e. transfer to a civilian prison).
- Those held in military custody either awaiting the outcome of an investigation, or awaiting HM Prison or YOI placement will be placed in the Service Custody Platoon (SCP), part of D Company.
- Those individuals sentenced to imprisonment at court martial are only held at MCTC for a short period of time – usually only a matter of days – before transfer to prison.
- MCTC may also hold remanded detainees under investigation (some of whom may be charged with serious offences) who have been committed to the centre because it was judged necessary to hold them in secure conditions. These can include civilians subject to service discipline (CSSD).
It is important to note that whilst at MCTC (Judge Advocate General, 2018):
- Detainees are not paid any salary whilst serving a sentence of detention in Service Custody premises.
- Detainees are provided with a small allowance to meet their immediate needs.
- Time in detention does not count towards qualifications for Service pension entitlement.
2.4 Being Sent to MCTC
“Service detention is available only for Warrant Officers and below…” (Judge Advocate General, 2018, p.26).
There are two ways to be ‘sent’ to the MCTC:
- Summary Hearing:
- The first is a summary hearing where the detainee’s commanding officer will have decided that detention is necessary.
- Court Martial:
- The second is through a military court, known as a court martial, which is governed by the Armed Forces Act 2006.
- A judge advocate presides over the court.
- The jury is called a board and is made up of a panel of commissioned officers and warrant officers.
If a member of the armed forces commits a serious crime like rape or murder, they could still be tried by a court martial depending on where and when the offence took place.
2.5 MCTC Statistics
Approximately 8% of those sent to the MCTC will reoffend, compared with the (then) civilian prison reoffending rate of around 25% (Kotecha, 2013; National Statistics, 2015).
Between January 2014 and January 2015, MCTC recorded a total of 490 offences for detainees, 347 military offences and 143 civilian offences. 61% of detainees were at MCTC due to AWOL offences (absent without leave), with 19% for violence, and 7% for dishonesty (DPS(A), 2016).
The vast majority of offenders were from the Infantry (182, 60%), followed by the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC) with 29 (10%) and, interestingly, the Royal Military Police had two (1%) personnel sent to MCTC as detainees (DPS(A), 2016).
PART THREE: HIERARCHY, ORGANISATION & FUNCTIONS
This part of the article outlines the hierarchy of the Provost Branch of the Adjutant Generals’ Corps, the organisation of the MCTC, and its functions.
3.1 Adjutant General’s Corps
The Adjutant General’s Corps (AGC), led by a Lieutenant General (OF-8), is one of the largest Corps in the British Army and is composed of:
- Provost Branch, which includes:
- The Royal Military Police (RMP) are the British Army’s specialists in Investigations and Policing and are responsible for policing the military community.
- The Military Provost Staff (MPS) are the British Army’s specialists in Custody and Detention, providing advice inspecti0n and surety.
- The Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS), established in 1999, provides trained professional soldiers to meet Defence armed security requirements.
- Army Legal Services (ALS): ALS is composed of professionally qualified solicitors, barristers or Scottish advocates. The role of ALS is the provision of legal support to the Army.
- Staff and Personnel Support (SPS): SPS personnel are responsible for the provision of Personnel Administration and Management Information, Financial Management (including pay, allowances, recovery of charges, accounting and audit) and Administrative Staff Support to the British Army, during peacetime and on operations.
- Educational and Training Services (ETS): ETS officers provide learning and development opportunities for serving personnel wherever they are around the world.
3.2 Provost Branch
As noted above, the Provost Branch consists of the RMP, MPS, and MPGS, and is led by the Provost Marshal (Army) (PM (A)), a Brigadier (OF-6). The PM (A) acts as the Head of Service for each of these organisations, as well as being the Army’s advisor and inspector for:
- Policing and investigations;
- Custody and detention; and
- Close protection.
The PM (A) “…is the competent Army authority for all aspects of UK and – as of 2008 – operational detainee custody.” (Corcoran, 2010, p.3).
3.3 Military Provost Staff
Military Provost Staff (MPS) are based primarily at the MCTC from where they deploy regularly in support of British military operations.
The number of MPS personnel has changed over the years:
- “Approximately 90 personnel” in 2007 (Heyman, 2007, p.172).
- “The MCTC is staffed by approximately 100 MPS and an element of Royal Navy and Royal Air Force staff.” (Corcoran, 2010, p.3).
- “Approximately 110 personnel” in 2011 (Heyman, 2011, p.144).
- “An increased Regular MPS capability to number 191 personnel (up from 106 personnel), together with an enduring Reserve component.” (Molinelli, 2014).
Domestically, MPS personnel are located across the UK, as follows:
- Military Provost Staff Regiment (MPS Regt), located in Colchester.
- Military Corrective Training Centre (MCTC), located in Colchester.
- Tier 1 Regional Service Custody Facilities (SCF):
- SCF Scotland (Edinburgh).
- SCF North (Catterick).
- SCF Northern Ireland (Aldergrove).
- SCF Midlands and Wales (Bramcote).
- SCF London (Woolwich).
- SCF South (Bulford).
Since April 2016, “seven” SCF’s (The RMP Journal, 2016, p.38).
3.3.1 Regimental Police
Where detention of army personnel occurs at a unit level, this is dealt with by soldiers appointed as Regimental Police (RP’s), also known as Provost Staff. The RP staff within a battalion/regiment normally consists of:
- One senior non-commissioned officer (SNCO): A Sergeant.
- Two to four Junior NCO’s: Corporals and Lance Corporals.
RP’s are not part of the MPS or PM (A), however, they do receive training from the MPS at the MCTC – with at least one member of the RP staff having received the training. The ALL Arms Unit Custody Staff Course is for tri-Service personnel with a custody role outside of MCTC.
The role of the RP staff is to deal with discipline of the battalion/regiment, and are normally based in Unit guard rooms licenced by the PM (A) following inspection.
The guard room is overseen by the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) and the Adjutant, who are responsible for ensuring that the guard room is working properly.
3.4 1 Military Police Brigade
The MPS Regiment is one of six regiments of 1 Military Police Brigade, led by a Brigadier (OF-6).
3.5 MPS Regiment
The MPS Regiment is located in Colchester and is led by the Commanding Officer (CO), a Lieutenant Colonel. The CO is also the Commandant MCTC responsible to the PM (A), Inspector of Service Custody Premises (Army) and Competent Army Authority and Inspectorate for Custody and Detention, who in turn reports to the Assistant Chief of the General Staff (ACGS).
The MPS Regiment, which celebrated its first birthday in December 2015, is composed of three Regular companies and one Reserve company (The RMP Journal, 2016).
The majority of MCTC staff are British Army officers and SNCO’s from the MPS Regiment.
3.6 Organisation of MCTC
“The MCTC has a staff complement of 151 (135 at the time of the inspection) of whom most are sergeants and staff sergeants of the Military Provost Staff (MPS)…” (HMIP, 2008, p.7).
The MCTC is composed of military and civilian personnel, numbering just over 160 in total, with military personnel coming from all three Services, and is led by the Commandant MCTC, a Lieutenant Colonel (OF-4).
Key personalities include:
- Commandant: Lieutenant Colonel (OF-4).
- Deputy Commandant: Major (OF-3).
- Staff Officer Two (SO2) Custody: Major who is responsible for MCTC and Unit detention and guard rooms (Corcoran, 2010).
- Officer Commanding (OC) A Company: Lieutenant (OF-2) from the Royal Navy.
- OC D Company: Captain (OF-2).
- Operations and Training Officer: Flight Lieutenant (OF-2) from the RAF Regiment who is responsible for the Training Wing.
- Warrant Officer Class One (WO1): A staff assistant carrying out bi-annual inspections of detention rooms across the UK (Corcoran, 2010).
- WO1 Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) (East Anglia RFCA, 2014; Essex Police, 2018).
- Education Warrant Officer.
- Senior Education Officer: Provided by Educational & Training Services (ETS) branch of the AGC.
MCTC is composed of:
- Command Team.
- A Company.
- C Company (disbanded 2007?).
- D Company.
- Incorporates the Naval Detention Quarters.
- Induction Platoon (Garsia Platoon).
- Service Custody Platoon (part of D Company).
- Formerly the Military Custody Platoon (MCP) and C Company.
- Training Wing.
- Training Platoon.
- Custodial Training Wing.
- Education Centre.
- Welfare Department.
- Offender Management Unit.
3.7 Training Wing
The Training Wing, under the command of the Operations & Training Officer, is responsible for the military and physical training of all military personnel.
The Training Wing Team consists of:
- The Chief Instructor (CI): A Warrant Officer Class Two (WO2) (OR-8) from the Military Provost Staff (MPS), who is assisted by:
- One Staff Sergeant (SSgt) (OR-7) in an administrative role; and
- 9/14 Sergeant (Sgt) (OR-6) Instructors (including one from both the RAF Regiment and Royal Marines).
- A WO2 Quartermaster Sergeant Instructor (WO2 QMSI) from the Royal Army Physical Training Corps (RAPTC), who is assisted by:
- One RN Petty Officer Physical Training (POPT) (OR-6);
- One RAF Defence Remedial Instructor (DRI);
- One MPS Assistant PTI; and
- Three civilian instructional officers.
3.8 Support Staff
There are a small number of Junior Non-Commissioned Officers (JNCOs) posted in from other units within the Regular Army in support roles such as military storekeeping and medical appointments.
Civilian staff are employed to fill a number of roles, including:
- Teaching within the education centre;
- Administrative appointments; and
- Storekeeping roles.
Whilst most civilian staff are members of the MOD Civil Service, some are contracted from companies or charities, and others are provided directly by Essex County Council.
3.9 Functions of MCTC
By Company, the functions of the MCTC are outlined as:
- A Company:
- To train and encourage DUS to improve their efficiency, discipline, and morale.
- Instil in UDS the will to become better service personnel. This is achieved by means of creating a platoon ethos within the Company routine and a progressive training regime based on the Directive for Employment and Specialist Qualifications in the Infantry, as directed by the Inspector of Military Establishments (Army) (I of ME(A)) through:
- Military Annual Training Tests (MATTs).
- Individual and Team skills.
- Appropriate leadership and confidence training.
- Special to Service skills as required.
- Literacy and numeracy remediation as required.
- C Company (Now SCP):
- Service personnel who are under investigation for more serious offences and those who are awaiting transfer to civilian custodial facilities (e.g. prison).
- D Company:
- To instruct and guide DUS in order that they develop their potential for self-sufficiency and responsible citizenship, by providing the appropriate rehabilitation training as directed by the I of ME(A) through:
- Trade training courses, including project work, which facilitates the attainment of recognised qualifications in artisan, computing and agricultural skills.
- Project work in the local and wider community.
- Farm husbandry.
- Resettlement and education.
- Literacy and numeracy remediation as required.
- Vocational training.
- To instruct and guide DUS in order that they develop their potential for self-sufficiency and responsible citizenship, by providing the appropriate rehabilitation training as directed by the I of ME(A) through:
3.10 Operations Abroad
Since Kosovo in 1999, there have been a number of MPS personnel supporting operations abroad, including Iraq and Afghanistan (Corcoran, 2010).
“It is important to note that MPS supporting operations abroad do not detain any UK forces: they are there to detain host nationals in their own country. Any UK soldier requiring a period of detention would be sent back to the UK to be dealt with.” (Corcoran, 2010, p.4).
When deployed on operations abroad, MPS personnel report to the local Provost Marshal and are generally based at a central detention facility where host national detainees are kept in custody awaiting further judicial process (Corcoran, 2010).
PART FOUR: MCTC TRAINING PROGRAMME
This section of the article briefly describes the training programme delivered by the MCTC.
Detainees will commence their day at 06:00 (6 am), with the first job being “to clean their dormitory and prepare for the daily rigorous inspection.” (Kotecha, 2013). Detainees wear their normal military uniform with a colour-coded badge attached to the front which denotes the seriousness of their offence.
There can be up to eight (8) detainees per room, furnished with “basic metal beds with mattresses, a couple of shelves, and a television that is switched on for only a limited time.” (Kotecha, 2013).
The majority of a detainee’s time is spent on a tailored rehabilitation programme which involves physical training, academic and vocational study, and specific counselling, depending on the offence.
Dormitories are locked from 19:00 (7pm) onwards and lights are out three hours later (22:00 or 10pm).
4.1 Staging System
Central to MCTC’s rehabilitative regime is the Staging System through which all DUS are encouraged to progress (referred to as Reward for Effort) (Table 1).
To progress within the staging system members of staff will record their daily observations on DUS’s performance and progress. Collectively, these observations will form a weekly report from their respective Company, Education Centre or Training Wing and, only for A Company, the Gymnasium.
‘Promotion’ through each stage is dependent on a series of criteria which all DUS are appraised of on admission. On successful attainment of each stage, DUS receive increased privileges and are subject to fewer restrictions.
|Table 1: MCTC Staging System|
|Stage One||Stage One Alpha (1A)||Stage One Bravo (1B)|
|Immediately on admission: Bed blocks made from quilts daily. Inspections daily. Radio and board games available in the evening. One 10 minute phone call weekly. Basic rate of reimbursement allowance (DUSRA).||Automatically after induction: Bed blocks made from quilts daily. Inspections daily. Use of radio and TV each evening. Board games available in the evening and weekends. Access to recreation room. Three 10 minute phone calls weekly. Basic rate of DUSRA.||Downgrade for poor performance: Bed blocks made daily. Inspections daily. Radio and games available in evening. One 10 minute phone call weekly. Basic rate of DUSRA.|
|Stage 2||Stage Two Alpha (2A)||Stage Three|
|Attainable after 4-5 weeks in Stage 1A, subject to performance: Bed made down, quilts on beds. Inspections daily. Use of radio and TV each evening. Board games available each evening and at weekends. Access to Stage 2 recreation room at all times. Three 10 minute phone calls weekly. Medium rate of DUSRA. Free, unescorted movement within Company lines.||Attainable after 4-5 weeks in Stage 2, subject to performance: Bed made down, quilts on beds. Inspections daily. Use of radio and TV each evening. Board games available each evening and at weekends. Access to Stage 2 recreation room at all times. Three 10 minute phone calls weekly. Medium rate of DUSRA. Free, unescorted movement within the establishment via Company Gate.||Attainable after 3 weeks in Stage 2A, subject to performance: Bed made down, quilts on beds. Inspections daily. Use of radio, TV, DVD, PS2, board games, and recreation room at all times. Three 10 minute phone calls weekly. Highest rate of DUSRA. Free, unescorted movement within the establishment through Stage 3 door. Granted 6-hour short-term temporary release each week. Daily use of pay telephone.|
4.2 Military Training
The military training regime undertaken by DUS includes:
- Military Training (Training Platoon): All serve-on DUS complete an eight (8) week training cycle, comprising of military subjects including all Military Annual Training Tests (MATTs). DUS on longer sentences have the opportunity to take part in training support tasks where they provide support to exercises and training outside of MCTC. Longer-term DUS are often given supervised responsibility for delivery of some aspects of training.
- Right Turn: All serve-on DUS complete a one (1) week programme, Serve-On Citizenship Course, where DUS address their applicable offending behaviour, usually in the second week of sentence.
- First Steps: All discharge DUS complete the Discharge Citizenship Course.
- Physical Training: Serve-on and discharge DUS and DNUS have access to physical training (PT) seven per week. Serve-on DUS are required to partake, discharge detainees are strongly encouraged to do so. Medically unfit detainees are, where medically suitable, undertake rehabilitation PT programmes designed to restore full health and fitness.
- Pre-Deployment Training: Delivered to MCTC staff prior to deployment to operational theatres.
- Staff Induction Training: Delivered to all military and civilian employees to appraise them on safety, work routines, and other MCTC issues.
- Custodial Training: Delivered (primarily) by two MPS Sergeants, from the Custodial Training Wing, who instruct all Units from the Regular Army on the All Arms Unit Custody Staff Course, the RAF custody course, and the probationers’ course.
- Adventurous Training: Adventurous training expeditions are arranged for both MCTC staff and DUS throughout the year.
- Annual MATT Training: Delivered to both MCTC staff and DUS.
4.3 Academic and Vocational Training
The Education Centre under the command of the SEO is responsible for the educational training of both A & D Company and the vocational training of D Company DUS. The training team consists of a number of civilian instructors, numbers fluctuating dependant on DUS numbers and specific course requirements. This is achieved by:
- Functional Skills (Numeracy and Literacy Training): To improve their standard of written and oral communication in order to make them more receptive to training and increase their future employability.
- Construction Skills: Taught to an agricultural level giving the DUS a basic skill level and qualification.
- Garage Skills: Tyre and exhaust fitting taught to a nationally recognised competency level.
- Fork Lift Driving/Operator: DUS who complete the full course gain the civilian diesel fork lift qualification with some gaining the opportunity to complete the extended fork course.
- Computer Based Courses: MCTC has a full integrated Army Learning Centre (ALC) providing a multitude of computer based courses including the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL).
- Resettlement Training: Based on providing the skills required by the SUS to gain civilian employment at the earliest opportunity on release, including CV writing and interview skills.
- Library Access: MCTC has a moderate library, supplemented by the Army library Service that all SUS have access to.
- Welding: Giving DUS a basic skill level and qualification.
The Welfare Department is led by a retired commissioned officer, who is assisted by an SSgt and Sgt, as well as a number of civilian administrative staff.
The Welfare Department maintains close liaison with agencies such as The Probation Service and After Care Services, Carillion Amey (Housing), Social Services, and the Crown and Magistrates Courts.
The welfare officer, or their assistant, will interview all DUS and DNUS on arrival to MCTC.
4.5 Offender Management
A key role of the MCTC is to contribute to the reduction in reoffending by personnel post sentence, and the principles of offender management are utilised to achieve this in a process known as ASPIRE:
- Assess: Each DUS is individually assessed to determine their need using the HARDFACTS (see below) pathways as a guide.
- Sentence Plan: Each DUS receives an individual sentence plan, which is tailored to address their past offending behaviour and assessed needs.
- Implement: The implementation of the sentence plan is a multi-disciplinary responsibility. Each pathway has a lead within the MCTC and several available interventions to address each need.
- Review: Each DUS receives a comprehensive weekly report, summarising effort, performance, progress against sentence plan objectives, physical fitness and conduct. Company staff review these reports and the sentence plan weekly with each DUS.
- Evaluate: On release, each DUS receives a reports. In the case of those who ‘serve-on’, this report is sent to their unit. For those who leave the Service, the report is retained on Unit files, but the DUS receives a CV and Record of Achievement. Evaluation is also reversed; the Unit periodically evaluates its ability to deliver against the combined needs of the detainee population.
The pathways to reducing reoffending are summarised under the HARDFACTS framework. HARDFACTS provides a holistic format in order to:
- Assess detainees on induction;
- Formulate the sentence plan consisting of appropriate interventions;
- Implement and review the sentence plan; and
- Evaluate the DUS at the end of sentence.
HARDFACTS is outlined below:
- Health: medical and dental treatment, mental health, physiotherapy, physical training, and advice on NHS services.
- Accommodation: housing advice, mortgages and loans etc.
- Relocation: Inter-unit, inter cap-badge, Service transfers, UK Border Agency, and right to remain.
- Drug and Alcohol Misuse: counselling and referral services.
- Finance, Benefits, and Debt: Advice and course on finances.
- Attitudes, Thinking, and Behaviour: Coaching, mentoring, and courses on positive citizenship.
- Children and Families: Advice and courses on developing better relationships.
- Training, Education, and Employment: Vocational training and qualifications.
- Support Agencies: Referral to support agencies not covered above.
4.7 Detainee Information
- MCTC Detainee Information (2007).
- MCTC Visitor Information (2007).
- MCTC Visit Regulations (2007).
- MCTC Visit Application Form (2007).
PART FIVE: MPS RECRUITMENT AND SELECTION
A career in the MPS is varied and extremely challenging, with opportunities to specialise in fields such as custodial duties, training, administration, dog handler, control and restraint, hostage negotiator, and suicide awareness.
MPS personnel start in the rank of Sergeant but can progress to Major (Late Entry), and opportunities include full time Regular Army and Army Reserve service. No formal qualifications or experience are required.
Posts/roles include (The RMP Journal, 2016):
- Managing overseas detention facilities.
- Instructor on Short Term Training Teams (STTT).
5.1 Recruitment and Selection
The majority of military staff are recruited from units within the Regular Army and will voluntarily transfer to the Adjutant General’s Corps (Military Provost Staff) (AGC (MPS)) after completing a 13 week probationer’s course, where the majority will complete their military careers.
Eligibility criteria include:
- A minimum rank of Corporal (or equivalent).
- Two recommendation for promotion to Sergeant (or equivalent).
- Three years residual service remaining.
In order to transfer to the MPS, candidates must:
- Meet the eligibility criteria;
- Attend a one-week selection centre; and
- Complete the 13-week MPS Probationers Course (Custodial SNCO’s Course).
The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, and Royal Marines personnel fulfil their commitment to the MCTC manpower pool by posting in staff for a specified period, normally around 18 to 24 months; these staff will also complete the majority of the probationers’ course.
Further courses include:
- MPS Custodial Development Course for MPS Sergeants at the two year point.
- MPS Advanced Course for those personnel approaching the rank of WO2.
5.2 MPS Army Reserves
The Army Reserve element of the MPS, No.1 Company MPS (Reserves), was formally agreed from October 2006, and established in April 2007.
They recruit uniquely for the reserve up to 50 years of age, predominantly from home office police forces, prison service or ex-military persons who are employed within the civil security sector.
Full recruitment capability is 7 officers and 86 warrant officers and SNCO’s, and is a sub-unit of the MPS Regiment.
5.3 Army 2020
As part of Army 2020, an organisational change project, the MPS will witness an expansion of manpower including the recruitment of Corporals for the Regular Army and Sergeants for the Army Reserve (around 60 and 14 respectively, as I understand it).
The reason being that Unit Garrison detention facilities will be manned by MPS personnel by 2020 and not RP’s (Section 3.3.1), this is due to having permanent custodian and professionally trained subject matter experts (SME’s). Corporate manslaughter and duty of care has come into line with HMIP regulations.
PART SIX: REGULATION, OVERSIGHT AND ASSOCIATIONS
This part of the article outlines the regulation and oversight of MCTC, as well as relevant associations.
6.1 Independent Monitoring Board
The Independent Monitoring Board of the Military Corrective Training Centre (IMB MCTC) to give the full title consists of fourteen (previously 12) civilian board members, people from the local community, who have volunteered to be members of the IMB – although one of the board members should be a retired officer from the armed forces, and at least two must be Magistrates (CPA, 2017).
The IMB has an important role in monitoring the fair treatment of detainees held within MCTC, and is expected to raise matters of concern with the Commandant and the Inspector of Military Establishments, and is also required to report annually to the Secretary of State for Defence.
IMB members have access to all areas of MCTC and must satisfy themselves as to the state of the premises, and the administration and treatment of detainees. With this in mind, aspects of the IMB’s work includes:
- Seeing that DUS are properly and fairly treated;
- Inspecting the premises, food, training, education, and all other parts of the MCTC; and
- Receive complaints and requests from DUS in private.
The IMB can only make enquiries about problems – it cannot make decisions – but can recommend actions that may be taken.
Although there is no formal training for new members, they will be allocated a mentor for up to twelve months. Initial appointment is for a period of five (5) years and the maximum time that any member may serve on the board is a period of ten (10) years. It is an unpaid voluntary post, although travel expenses and a subsistence allowance is paid where appropriate.
IMB members are expected to attend six (6) board meetings per year, be on-call for at least six (6) rostered weeks each year, and conduct reviews on at least two occasion per year.
It is important to note that IMB members operate in a monitoring role, they are not inspectors.
The IMB comes under the Service Custody and Service of Relevant Sentences Rules 2009, not the Prison Act/Prison Rules (FOI 2022/100336).
6.2 Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons
MPS staff and facilities are subject to external inspection by:
- Governmental Inspectorates such as Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP); and
- Detention arrangements in operational theatres are inspected by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
HMIP is an independent inspectorate, inspecting places of detention to report on conditions and treatment, and promote positive outcomes for those detained and the public.
- HMIP 01 – Report of an Announced Inspection of the MCTC (2004-06).
- HMIP 02 – Report of an Announced Inspection of the MCTC (2008-11).
- HMIP 03 – Report of an Unannounced Inspection of the MCTC (2010-06).
- HMIP 04 – Report of an Unannounced Inspection of the MCTC (2012-01).
- HMIP 05 – Report of an Unannounced Inspection of the MCTC (2014-10).
- HMIP 06 – Report of an Unannounced Inspection of the MCTC (HMIP, 2017).
- HMIP 07 – News Report (2018-03).
- Report to the Government of the UK on the Visit Carried out by the European Committee for hte Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) (2001-02-04).
6.3 MPS Association
The Military Provost Staff Association, formerly the Military Provost Staff Corps Association, is located at Berechurch Hall Camp, Colchester.
6.4 Military Provost Staff Corps Benevolent Fund
Located at Berechurch Hall Camp, Colchester, the MPSC Benevolent Fund supports members of the MPS/MPSC Association who are serving in the AGC (MPS) (Provost Branch) and ex serving members of the MPSC and AGC (MPS) with grants for welfare and sports/adventure training activities. They also stay in contact with their association’s widows and produce one Corps journals per year.
PART SEVEN: MISCELLANEOUS
Work as a military prison officer is both challenging and rewarding, and provides a very different career from the average soldier.
The MPS role is open to all male and female other ranks personnel of the UK armed forces. MPS training seeks to attract determined, highly-motivated, intelligent, reliable and physically fit individuals to serve with the military provost community. This article provides basic information for individuals wishing to gain a better understanding of the MPS in general and MCTC specifically.
7.1 Useful Publications
- Joint Service Publication (JSP):
- JSP 469: Code of Practice for the Management of Personnel in Service Custody (2000 edition and 2004 edition) [Superseded by JSP 837].
- JSP 830: Manual of Service Law, Volumes 1-3.
- JSP 831: Redress of Individual Grievances: Service Complaints.
- JSP 832: Guide to Service Inquiries.
- JSP 833: Minor Administrative Action.
- JSP 837: Service Code of Practice for the Management of Personnel in Service Custody and Committal to Service Custody Premises and Civil Prisons) October 2009 [Superseded JSP 469].
- JSP 839: Services to be provided by the Armed Forces to Victims of Crime.
- Joint Warfare/Doctrine Publication (JWP/JDP):
- JWP 1-10: Prisoner of War Handling (May 2001) [Superseded by May 2006 edition]
- JDP 1-10: The Prisoner of War, Internees and Detainees Handling (May 2006) [Superseded May 2001 edition].
- The Imprisonment and Detention (Army) Rules 1979 (The 1979 Rules) [Superseded by SCSRSR 09].
- The Service Custody and Service of Relevant Sentences Rules 2009 (SCSRSR 09) [Superseded The 1979 Rules].
- Armed Forces Act 2006 (AFA 2006) (came into force on 31 October 2009).
- Armed Forces Act 2016 (AFA 2016).
- Guidance on Sentencing in the Court Martial. Version 5 (January 2018).
- An Overview of the Service Justice System and the Armed Forces Act (MOD, 2010).
- Boyes, Robert (1988) In Glasshouses: History of Military Provost Staff Corps. Colchester: Military Provost Staff Corps Association.
- McEntee-Taylor, Carole (2014) Military Detention Colchester from 1947: Voices from the Glasshouse. Barnsley: Pen & Sword Books Ltd.
- TV Documentaries:
- Originally broadcast in 1996 by BBC Essex, the Young Offenders Boot Camp, a 28-minute documentary, looked at the Colchester YOI project for civilian young offenders.
- Originally broadcast in 2003, The Real Redcaps, an eight-part series narrated by Robson Green, looked at the wide variety of roles within the Provost Branch.
7.2 Useful Links
- Criminal Justice Inspectorates: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/.
- HM Inspectorate of Prisons: https://www.justiceinspectorates.gov.uk/hmiprisons/.
- Military Provost Staff Association (MPSA): http://www.mpsca.org.uk/.
- Military Provost Staff Corps Benevolent Fund:
1 Military Police Brigade (2016) Military Provost Staff (MPS) Regiment Crowned Army UK Midlands Badminton Champions. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.facebook.com/1MilitaryPoliceBrigade/posts/574433266077400:0. [Accessed: 08 May, 2018].
CPA (Centre for Public Appointments) (2017) Independent Monitoring Board of the Military Corrective Training Centre (IMBMCTC) – Members 10068. Available from World Wide Web: https://publicappointments.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/appointment/independent-monitoring-board-military-corrective-training-centre-imbmctc-members-10068/. [Accessed: 06 May, 2018].
Doyle, C. & Foster, P. (2012) British Army Cap Badges of the Second World War. First Edition. London: Shire Publications.
DPS (A) (Directorate of Personnel Services (Army)) (2016) Commanding Officers’ Designate Discipline Training: Supporting Values and Standards and Threats to the Service Justice System.
East Anglia RFCA (East Anglia Reserve Forces and Cadets Association) (2014) End of an Era for Colchester Reservist. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.earfca.org.uk/end-era-colchester-reservist/. [Accessed: 06 May, 2018].
Essex Police (2018) From the Barracks to the Beat. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.essex.police.uk/news/news-and-features/2018/02feb/from-the-barracks-to-the-beat/. [Accessed: 08 May, 2018].
Farrington, D.P., Ditchfield, J., Hancock, G., Howard, P., Jolliffe, D., Livingston, M.S. & Painter, K.A. (2002) Evaluation of Two Intensive Regimes for Young Offenders. London: Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Department.
Farrington, D.P., Hancock, G., Livingston, M.S., Painter, K.A. & Towl, G. (2000) Evaluation of Intensive Regimes for Young Offenders. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.crim.cam.ac.uk/people/academic_research/david_farrington/hofind121.pdf. [Accessed: 06 May, 2018].
Ministry of Defence (MOD) Freedom of Information (FOI) Request. Ref: Army/PolSec/C/M/FOI2022/100336 dated 28 September 2022.
Hansard (1996) Colchester Young Offender Institution. HL Deb 17 April 1996 vol 571 cc74-5WA. Available from World Wide Web: https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/written-answers/1996/apr/17/colchester-young-offender-institution. [Accessed: 06 May, 2018].
Heyman, C. (ed) (2007) The British Army Guide 2008-2009. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Ltd.
Heyman, C. (ed) (2011) The British Army Guide 2012-2013. Barnsley: Pen and Sword Ltd.
Jailhouse Tours Ltd (2018) Shepton Mallet Prison – Cornhill. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.sheptonmalletprison.com/history. [Accessed: 17 May, 2018].
Judge Advocate General (2018) Guidance on Sentencing in the Court Martial. Version 5.
Kotecha, S. (2013) A Rare Glimpse Inside the UK’s Only ‘Military Prison’. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23793619. [Accessed: 06 May, 2018].
London Gazette (1992) Supplement to the London Gazette, 7th April 1992. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.thegazette.co.uk/London/issue/52885/supplement/6178/data.pdf. [Accessed: 08 May, 2018].
Molinelli, G. (2014) Army 2020 Structures: Royal Military Police and Security Assistance Group. Available from World Wide Web: http://ukarmedforcescommentary.blogspot.co.uk/2014/10/army-2020-structures-royal-military.html. [Accessed: 08 May, 2018].
National Statistics (2015) Proven Reoffending Statistics January 2013 to December 2013. Available from World Wide Web: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/proven-reoffending-statistics-january-2013-to-december-2013. [Accessed: 08 May, 2018].
Shute, J. (2013) Shepton Mallet Prison: ‘If These Walls Could Speak…’ Available from World Wide Web: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9959808/Shepton-Mallet-Prison-If-these-walls-could-speak….html. [Accessed: 17 May, 2018].
The Baha Mousa Public Inquiry (2010) Witness Statement of Rhett Gerrard Corcoran. Statement No.1. Exhibit TGC/01. 28 August 2009.
The RMP Journal (The Royal Military Police Journal) (2016) Military Provost Staff Regiment. The RMP Journal. April 2016, pp.38-39.
Wilson, D. (1999) Still Waiting for a ‘Third Way’ in Criminal Justice – New Labour, and Young People in Britain. Available from World Wide Web: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/CICrimJust/1999/28.pdf. [Accessed: 06 May, 2018].