Royal Military Police
Cap Badge of the Corps
Active1926–1992 (independent)
1992–present (as branch)
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
TypeMilitary Police
Part ofAdjutant General's Corps
RHQ RMPSouthwick Park, Hampshire
Monkeys (derogatory)[1]
Motto(s)Exemplo Ducemus
By example shall we lead
MarchThe Watchtower (Hoch Heidecksburg) Edit this at Wikidata
Colonel-in-ChiefThe King
Colonel CommandantLieutenant General Sir Benjamin Bathurst
Provost Marshal (Army) and Commander 1 Military Police BrigadeBrigadier Sarah Pringle-Smith
Heraldic Background
Tactical Recognition Flash

The Royal Military Police (RMP) is the corps of the British Army responsible for the policing of army service personnel, and for providing a military police presence both in the UK and while service personnel are deployed overseas on operations and exercises. Members of the RMP are often known as 'Redcaps' because of the scarlet covers on their peaked caps and scarlet coloured berets.

The RMP's origins can be traced back to the 13th century but it was not until 1877 that a regular corps of military police was formed with the creation of the Military Mounted Police, which was followed by the Military Foot Police in 1885. Although technically two independent corps, they effectively functioned as a single organisation. In 1926, they were fully amalgamated to form the Corps of Military Police (CMP). In recognition of their service in the Second World War, they became the Corps of Royal Military Police on 28 November 1946. In 1992, the RMP amalgamated into the Adjutant General's Corps (AGC), where they form part of the AGC's Provost Branch.

Non-commissioned members of the RMP receive their basic training as soldiers at the Army Training Centre in Pirbright. They then receive further training at the Defence School of Policing and Guarding (DSPG), previously known as the Defence College of Policing and Guarding (DCPG).

The regimental march of the RMP is "The Watchtower" or "Hoch Heidecksburg", originally a German Army marching tune from 1912 by Rudolf Herzer. The RMP motto is Exemplo ducemus, Latin for "By example shall we lead".[2]


Main article: History of the Royal Military Police

The Provost Marshal is a post which goes back to the 13th century and was originally an under-officer of the Earl Marshal.[3] In 1685 the role of Provost Marshal General became a permanent post.[3] The Cavalry Staff Corps of 1813–14 and 1815–18 is regarded as Britain's first standing military police force and a forerunner of the Royal Military Police.[4][5] The Military Mounted Police was formed in 1877 and the Military Foot Police was formed in 1885.[3]

During the First World War the Military Police grew from 508 all ranks to over 25,000 all ranks by the end of the War.[3] During the Battle of Neuve Chapelle in March 1915 the Military Police served the Army as a whole, rather than individual units.[3]

On 27 February 1926 the Corps of Military Police was formed by merging the Military Mounted Police and the Military Foot Police.[3]

During the Second World War the Military Police grew from 4,121 all ranks to over 50,000 all ranks within six major branches of specialists:[3]

In November 1946, King George VI granted the 'Royal' prefix to the Corps of Military Police in recognition of its outstanding record in two World Wars and the Corps became known as The Corps of Royal Military Police, though abbreviated to Royal Military Police (RMP).[3] From 1969 the Corps made an important contribution during The Troubles in Northern Ireland.[3]

Red Beret-wearing, British, Royal Military Police member uses field glasses to look across the Berlin Wall from a viewing platform on the western side, 1984.
An RMP member during Operation Herrick in Afghanistan, in 2012.

A horse detachment of the Royal Military Police remained in service after World War II, being recreated in 1950. Based at Aldershot, its purpose was mainly to undertake patrol and other policing duties in areas not suitable for vehicles, but also to act as a ceremonial unit preserving mounted RMP traditions dating back to the nineteenth century. The Mounted Troop was gradually reduced to about 20 personnel and finally disbanded in 1995.[6]

On 6 April 1992 the RMP amalgamated into the Adjutant General's Corps (AGC), under whose overall command they form part of the AGC's Provost Branch alongside the also pre-existent Military Provost Staff Corps and the later-formed Military Provost Guard Service. Although they lost status as an independent corps, they were permitted to retain the Royal Military Police title and cap badge.[7]


As well as policing service personnel whilst at home in the UK, the Royal Military Police are required to provide a capable military police presence in support of military operations overseas.

In the United Kingdom and British overseas garrisons

Broadly speaking, within the United Kingdom and its overseas garrisons, the Royal Military Police are responsible for policing service personnel. In garrison towns, the RMP often assist the local territorial police force in town centres at venues where service personnel are likely to frequent. Some Royal Military Police NCOs are allocated roles working on Service Family Accommodation (SFA) estates, such as Community Liaison Officers and Crime Reduction Officers. Part of this role involves visiting schools in the SFA catchment area, where the school's children come from service families. In the UK, this work is often done in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence Police.

Some of the specific roles the RMP fulfill include:[8]

When deployed on operations

RMP Para Provost DZ Flash (16 Air Assault Brigade)

The Royal Military Police are required to provide tactical military police support to the British Army in military operations. When deployed, some of the roles the RMP fulfill include:[8]


In the United Kingdom

Royal Military Police soldiers at Edinburgh

Royal Military Police personnel are not constables under UK law and do not have any specific police powers over the general public, only whilst dealing with service personnel. The RMP are subject to inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, in the same way as UK civilian police forces.[11]

RMP personnel sometimes have powers, conferred by military lands byelaws, to give lawful directions to civilians who are on Ministry of Defence land affected by such byelaws. This may include the power to regulate vehicular and pedestrian traffic, close or restrict access, or to direct civilians to leave military land to which the byelaws apply. The particulars of these powers are highly changeable and are determined by each individual statutory instrument.[12][13]

A member of the Royal Military Police can arrest any individual in the UK whom he or she has reasonable grounds to believe to be a serving member of HM Armed Forces and to have committed a relevant civil or military law offence.[14] RMP personnel do not have to be on Ministry of Defence land to exercise their authority over service personnel.[8] The RMP also have police powers over personnel of the other two branches of the armed forces: the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. The Royal Navy Police and RAF Police also have reciprocal police powers over British Army personnel.[15]

Postings overseas

RMP soldier on duty in Germany

Main article: Civilian subject to service discipline

Where service personnel are deployed overseas, the Royal Military Police are often called upon to provide a complete policing service. In these situations, members of the Royal Military Police can often exercise police powers in respect of civilians subject to service discipline. This includes, not exclusively, service dependents and overseas contractors sponsored by the British Army.[15]

In Germany, under the Status of forces agreement, the RMP has jurisdiction and primacy over British service personnel, their families, MoD contractors, and NAAFI staff.[16] The German civil police only normally become involved where the interests of a German national are concerned.[16]


Royal Military Police personnel undertaking general police duties are equipped with extendable batons, Hiatt speedcuffs and Airwave personal radios.[17]

The RMP also uses the Home Office Large Major Enquiry System, known as HOLMES.[18]


Main article: Defence School of Policing and Guarding

RMP commissioned officers attend the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, as do all other British Army officers. Other ranks recruits undertake their phase 1, Common Military Syllabus (Recruits) training at the Army Training Regiment in Winchester. They then move onto Phase 2 which is undertaken at the Defence School of Policing and Guarding.[19]

The training syllabus includes:


The regimental headquarters of the RMP moved to MOD Southwick Park - Southwick House - near Portsmouth, in February 2007. It is co-located with the triservice Defence School of Policing and Guarding.[20] The RMP training centre moved there on 27 September 2005, from the RMP's long-standing RHQ (with effect from February, 1964) at Roussillon Barracks in Chichester, West Sussex. The Service Police Crime Bureau is also located at MOD Southwick Park, and is staffed by personnel from the Royal Military Police, Royal Air Force Police, and Royal Navy Police. The RMP Museum has also moved to MOD Southwick Park.[21]

Colonels Commandant of the RMP

Colonels Commandant have included:[22]

Current RMP units

Current RMP units include:[26][27][28]

1st Military Police Brigade

156 Provost Company, 3 Regiment RMP on exercise in 2019

1st Military Police Brigade (under Regional Command), Andover

Allied Rapid Reaction Corps

Defence Serious Crime Unit

Tri-service serious crimes unit that replaced the Special Investigations Branches of the UK armed services. Headquarters based at Bulford Garrison.[32]

The RMP in popular culture

RMP vehicle in Seria, Brunei

Redcap, an ABC television drama series which aired from 1964 to 1966, starred John Thaw as SIB investigator Sergeant (later Staff Sergeant) John Mann.[33]

Red Cap, another television drama series, which aired in 2003 and 2004, starred Tamzin Outhwaite as Sergeant Jo McDonagh, also an SIB investigator.[34][35]

Soldier Soldier, a television drama series about an infantry company which aired from 1991 to 1997, featured Holly Aird as Corporal (later Sergeant) Nancy Thorpe RMP.[36][37]

The Investigator (aired 1997) starred Helen Baxendale as an RMP Staff Sergeant. It was about life in the British forces at a time when being homosexual was banned and had serious repercussions. It was based on a true story.[38][39]

The Real Redcaps was a television documentary series about the Royal Military Police which aired from 2003 to 2005. It shows the RMP in the Second Gulf War, their training in (then) Chichester, Close Protection (CP) training, SIB work in Iraq, and other duties such as policing troops in Germany. It also shows the Military Provost Staff Corps Military Provost Guard Service manning MCTC Colchester.[40]

7 Seconds is a 2005 direct-to-DVD film starring Wesley Snipes, that follows the actions of female Royal Military Police Sergeant Kelly Anders (Tamzin Outhwaite). When an experienced thief accidentally makes off with a valuable Van Gogh painting, his partner is kidnapped by gangsters in pursuit of the painting, forcing the thief to hatch a rescue plan, in which he joins forces with RMP Sgt Anders.[41]

In the 2014 film Edge of Tomorrow, acting as guards around the Army's command post in London, military personnel wearing a futuristic 'MP' arm band and scarlet berets are shown throughout the film. In one of the chase scenes, RMP troops pursued Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) where an RMP soldier in a mechanical suit stops Cage by destroying the front of his getaway car, leading to his capture.[42]

The Missing was a British TV Drama broadcast on the BBC which featured members of the Royal Military Police in several leading and supporting roles, including Laura Fraser as Eve Stone, a Sergeant (later Staff Sergeant) in the RMP.[43]

The Last Post is a 2017 BBC television drama series featuring the men and families of the RMP during the Aden Emergency.[44]

Strike is a Cinemax/BBC television drama series, from the novels by Robert Galbraith. The main character, Cormoran Blue ("C.B.") Strike is a veteran SIB Sergeant who becomes a private investigator in London after being severely injured by a roadside IED in Afghanistan. The character is played by Tom Burke.[45]

See also


  1. ^ "Origin of the phrase 'monkey' as a derogatory term for the Royal Military Police". Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  2. ^ "The Centenary of a Military Police Association 1913 - 2013". RHQ RMP. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Royal Military Police: History". Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  4. ^ "Cavalry Staff Corps 1813". National Army Museum, London. Retrieved 19 January 2019.
  5. ^ Carman, W. Y. (Spring 1969). "The Cavalry Staff Corps". Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research. 47 (189): 33–34. JSTOR 44222918.
  6. ^ Chappell, Mike (1997). Redcaps. Britain's Military Police. pp. 56& 59. ISBN 1-85532-670-1.
  7. ^, The British Army. "The British Army - History". Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  8. ^ a b c "Role of the RMP – British Army Website". Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  9. ^ "Royal Military Police – British Army Website". Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  10. ^ Ministry of Defence (7 August 2012). "Royal Military Police train for close protection". Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  11. ^ "Armed Forces Act 2011". Retrieved 2 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Military Lands Act 1892". Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  13. ^ "Military Lands Byelaws". Defence Estates. Archived from the original on 4 December 2009. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  14. ^ Armed Forces Act 2006.
  15. ^ a b "Armed Forces Act 2006". Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  16. ^ a b "NATO – Official text: Agreement between the Parties to the North Atlantic Treaty regarding the Status of their Forces, 19-Jun.-1951". 19 June 1951. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  17. ^ "Airwave". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  18. ^ "Military Police". Hansard. 17 November 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  19. ^ "A Feather in the Redcap for First Military Police Apprentices". 26 March 2013. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  20. ^ RMP Journal.
  21. ^ "Adjutant General's Corps". Archived from the original on 30 June 2013.
  22. ^ "Colonels Commandant of the Corps of Royal Military Police" (PDF). Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  23. ^ "DEMPSEY, Gen Sir Miles Christopher (1896–1969)". King's Collections. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  24. ^ "No. 44539". The London Gazette (Supplement). 5 March 1968. p. 2660.
  25. ^ "No. 52885". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 April 1992. p. 6178.
  26. ^ "RMP Units". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  27. ^ "Army Reserve 2020 Structure and Basing Changes" (PDF).
  28. ^ "RMP Units - British Army Website". 13 January 2018. Archived from the original on 13 January 2018. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  29. ^ a b "Army 2020 Refine exercise" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 13 October 2019.
  30. ^ "MPS | The British Army". 3 October 2023.
  31. ^ "The Military Police Unit With A Very Particular Set Of Skills". Forces News. 6 October 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  32. ^ "Defence Serious Crime Unit (DSCU)". GOV.UK. Retrieved 3 October 2023.
  33. ^ Redcap at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  34. ^ "BBC Red Cap Show page". Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  35. ^ "Red Cap". 7 January 2003. Retrieved 7 May 2017 – via IMDb.
  36. ^ Soldier Soldier at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  37. ^ Soldier Soldier Archived April 18, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  38. ^ "Interview: Helen Baxendale: A good time to be a bad girl". The Independent. 16 February 1997. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  39. ^ "When Caroline Meagher (left) joined the military police she thought she would be investigating serious crime. Instead she found herself involved in a witch hunt against lesbians that was to end in disaster when her own affair was uncovered, writes Barbara Machin". The Independent. 6 May 1997. Retrieved 8 January 2018.
  40. ^ The Real Redcaps, Produced by Anglia Television/Channel Television/Meridian Broadcasting for ITV 2005.
  41. ^ 7 Seconds at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  42. ^ "Edge of Tomorrow". Retrieved 2 October 2016.
  43. ^ Binding, Lucia (19 October 2016). "The Missing: Eerie details of Alice's suffering during 11-year disappearance emerges". Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  44. ^ The Last Post at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  45. ^ Strike at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata