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Northern Ireland Security Guard Service

Cap Badge of the Northern Ireland Security Guard Service

The Northern Ireland Security Guard Service (NISGS) was founded in 1998[1] following the Northern Ireland in a manner similar to that provided by the Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS) in England, Wales and Scotland.[2]


  • Civilian Security Officer 1
  • Massereene Barracks incident 2
  • Uniform and equipment 3
  • See also 4
  • External links 5
  • References 6

Civilian Security Officer

An NISGS Civilian Security Officer (CSO) is attested by a magistrate as a Special Constable[3] whilst on duty within Ministry of Defence property. They hold similar powers to that of a Police Constable based on the Emergency Laws (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1947. A CSO has the powers of arrest under the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 (PACE).[4]

Massereene Barracks incident

In 2009 CSOs at

  1. ^ "The state of the Union - Brendan O’Neill". Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  2. ^ "Northern Ireland Security Guard Service: 13 Mar 2009: Hansard Written Answers and Statements". TheyWorkForYou. Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  3. ^ "Northern Ireland Security Guard Service - Forum". Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  4. ^ MOD (A) Northern Ireland Guard Service
  5. ^ Bingham, John (10 March 2009). "Northern Ireland barracks guards not up to job – Patrick Mercer". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  6. ^ Bowcott, Owen (9 March 2009). "Brigadier George Norton defends security levels and guards' response to Real IRA attack". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  7. ^ a b Rayment, Sean (14 March 2009). "Murdered soldiers' bodies flown home from Northern Ireland without ceremony". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 2012-03-16. 
  8. ^ "BBC NEWS Northern Ireland - MPs to review NI barrack security". BBC News. 11 March 2009. Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  9. ^ Lea, Michael; Greenhill, Sam; Wright, Stephen; Firth, Niall. "Fury as Adams says British special forces provoked pizza delivery murders of unarmed soldiers - Mail Online". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 2012-03-17. 
  10. ^ "Review into civilian guards in N.Ireland". Defence Management. Retrieved 2012-03-17. 


  • Emergency Laws (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1947

External links

See also

Prior to the Masseerene Barracks incident NISGS CSOs were armed with the venerable L9A1 9mm Browning Hi-Power single-action automatic pistol, primarily and deliberately for self-defence. Following that incident and the recognition that the very short accurate range generally achievable with any pistol even under ideal conditions was a factor in not returning fire in that incident, NISGS CSOs were quickly re-armed with the L85A2 Individual Weapon. This is a 5.56 mm calibre selective fire assault rifle, generally referred to as the 'SA80', and is the current standard UK military issue personal weapon. These were readily available from MOD stocks as an interim solution but were accepted to be overly powerful for the NISGS armed guarding role because of the long lethal range (up to 500 metres (1,600 ft)) and short-range over-penetration of the ammunition, and the availability of fully automatic fire. In early 2012 an agreement was reached between MOD and PSNI to acquire surplus Heckler & Koch MP5 9mm submachine guns from PSNI to re-arm NISGS CSOs. These weapons are limited to firing single shots or 3-round bursts which, coupled with their less powerful and shorter-lethal-range 9mm Parabellum pistol ammunition, provides NISGS with a more appropriate firearm for their role.

Because the Crown is exempt from the provisions of the Firearms Acts, Crown Servants may carry firearms in the course of their duties if duly authorised to do so. Conversely, the MOD Guard Service are not authorised to carry firearms in Northern Ireland, as well as in Great Britain where the Military Provost Guard Service provide armed guarding. In addition to the Crown firearms exemption, attesting NISGS CSOs as Special Constables allows them to be armed on the same basis as PSNI Police Officers Part Time, the equivalent of mainland Special Constables.

NISGS Civilian Security Officers (CSO) wear a unique and distinctive light blue uniform in order to be identifiably different from the military and PSNI personnel with whom they interact. The principal reason for NISGS' creation after the Good Friday Agreement was to place the guarding of MOD premises in the Province on a primarily civilian footing with military backup, as in mainland UK. It was felt that establishing the Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS) in the Province would still be seen as an overtly "military" force. As the NISGS is analogous to the MOD Guard Service(MGS), an identifiably different uniform that is neither "police" nor "military" in character was seen as essential to establishing them as a clearly civilian force among local communities, from where most members came.

Uniform and equipment

Following the incident at Masseerene Barracks in 2009 plans were made to retrain and rearm CSOs belonging to NISGS.[7][10]

[9] This was the first time that a barracks guarded by the NISGS had come under a direct attack.[8]

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