Hi, I’m Lt Col Stewart Andrews and I’m DIO’s Senior Training Safety Officer for Salisbury Plain. Last year, 2948 illegal incursions were reported in the South West; most were caused by people illegally driving 4x4s and motorcycles on the Plain.
We’ve recently received some new – and newly branded – vehicles which we hope will help us crack down on the number of illegal incursions taking place on the Plain. Our new vehicles really stand out and are easy to spot, and with the words Training Safety written on them it’s obvious what job they’ll be doing if you see them out on the Plain. The new vehicles will help to provide a safe place for our troops to train and ensure that the public can use the Plain safely for legal leisure and recreational activities.
The vehicles aren’t just being introduced onto Salisbury Plain though; they’re also being rolled out across the whole of the MOD training estate.
This month, we’ll be using our new and re-branded older vehicles during Operation Aston. This is a joint operation run by the MOD, Wiltshire Police and the Royal Military Police to prevent people from taking part in illegal and dangerous activities. The operation aims to educate people on what they can and can’t do on the Plain and tells them about the impact their actions have on our training area. Illegal activities not only cause environmental damage they also disrupt military training.
DIO takes its responsibility for public safety very seriously. We want people to enjoy the MOD estate, but also to realise that if they don’t follow the rules it can be a dangerous place. Military training can take place for up to 340 days a year on Salisbury Plain. For information about accessing the MOD estate, please see the GOV.UK website. This is also where you can access our firing times.
We’ve already provided our staff with new hi-vis vests and body cameras to make them more visible across the MOD estate. The hi-vis vests make our staff more prominent and easy to recognise. The cameras will help us to record illegal activity making it easier for us to identify repeat offenders and provide us with the evidence we need to prosecute them. We hope the vehicles, and this new equipment, will make people realise that we take illegal activity very seriously.
Remember that public access to Salisbury Plain is regulated by a set of Military Byelaws, so please familiarise yourself with them and follow the rules. The majority of people using Salisbury Plain for recreational and leisure activities do so legally, it’s the minority that access it illegally that really need to be stopped – they’re damaging the fragile environment and could disrupt military training. They’re also putting their lives, and those of others, at risk. If you spot any suspicious or illegal activity, please help us by calling 101 or 999.