Original Broadcast - Tuesday 22nd July, 10.30pm- 2003
An eight-part series, narrated by Robson Green, about the wide variety of roles played by one of the smallest regiments in the British Army. The Royal Military Police - known as redcaps - exists to uphold the highest standards of discipline and fight crime within the ranks.
We join a dozen new police recruits on their first days of basic police training in Chichester. While at the other end of the process of maintaining the law, we follow soldiers sentenced to imprisonment inside the infamous Glasshouse, or Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester, run by the Military Provost Staff.
Programme - 2
Original Broadcast - Tuesday 29 July, 10.30pm
When hard reality and theatrical drama meet.
Inside the Glasshouse in Colchester is C Block, a prison within a prison, where serious offenders are punished, while the alternative treatment for calming hard boys is a spell tending piglets in the Pig Unit. Conventional education is available for all soldiers before they leave the services.
During her sentence, Sam Maunder, is the only girl inside, but she learns from her experience before returning to the RAF.
New recruits of 6 Platoon are finding training for RMP tougher than expected, but they stick together, especially when reconstructing a gory traffic accident with theatrical blood for realism.
Programme - 3
Original Broadcast - Tuesday 5 August, 10.30pm
This week on The Real Redcaps we hear the tale of Jo Lally, sentenced to 60 days in the Military Corrective Training Centre, in Colchester, for having a drink with the lads in barracks. Before returning to her unit, she undergoes the same training and conditions as the men in the jail. After a gym session, Jo is humiliated by the men who had to wait while she completed her shower.
On Christmas day the Commandant wakes the inmates with "Gunfire at Dawn" - a tot of rum in their tea before singing carols in the Chapel. Traditional Christmas lunch is served by the staff - and includes a can of beer for everyone and we meet Neil Barr the normally jolly 'geordie' who reveals the pain of separation from his family during Christmas.
Another kind of deprivation is found in Kosovo & Bosnia where Redcaps have worked closely with multi-national forces in a peacekeeping role for ten years. Their work began when the Special Investigation Branch gathered photographic evidence of atrocious war crimes in the Balkans. Today they gather illegal weapons and lead by example, policing troops intent on breaking traffic laws.
Programme - 4
Original Broadcast - Tuesday 12 August, 10.30pm
As the Gulf War approaches, the men and women of 156 Provost Company are training in earnest. The 156 Pro Coy, based in Colchester, plans to be among the first into Iraq, travelling with the fighting soldiers of 6 Para. As they practice helicopter drops commanding officer, Major Bryn Parry Jones tells us that the threat of chemical weapons is uppermost in everyone's minds.
Meanwhile, in MCTC, the Glasshouse commandant warns the Board of Prison Visitors of the effect that war will have on life inside.
Col Matt Van Grutten organises an exercise for the detainees to ensure their military training is up to date as many will be deployed to the Gulf on release.The exercise is unprecedented as 150 servicemen under sentence are allowed out of the gates, fully armed, to spend two days fighting mock battles in the woods around the firing range.
Programme - 5
Original Broadcast - Tuesday 19 August, 10.30pm
February 2003, and the roads of Kuwait thundered to the roar of heavy armour heading northwards during the final stages of Operation Telic, the invasion of Iraq. Centuries of experience in desert fighting taught the army that however rough it gets, armies can always operate effectively - provided the lines of communication run smoothly. While the Royal Military Police kept the traffic flowing smoothly, they were also busy preparing the desert routes for the final assault.
From their Headquarters in Chichester, the RMP sent specialists to deal with every eventuality: the Special Investigation Branch to record war crimes and the Military Provost Staff from the "Glasshouse" in Colchester to handle Prisoners of War.
Desert life was hard for everyone, blazing heat and sand which blows into every crevice - a few minutes spent under the Solar Shower is the only comfort. Every Redcap had one threat in mind - the possibility of an enemy air strike involving chemical or nuclear weapons. Even when completing mine clearance tasks, a gas attack alert sends everyone under cover. The Commanders reveal their plans for the Royal Military Police once they arrive in Iraq, but first the war must be fought.
On March 19th 2003 the United States Air Force began the campaign. The invasion of Iraq was underway.
Programme - 6
Original Broadcast - Thursday 28 August, 10.30pm
While the world focus of attention was on the war in the Gulf, the day-to-day work of the Royal Military Police continues at home. At their HQ somewhere on Salisbury Plain, the Special Investigation Branch is constantly on the look out for wrong doers in the ranks.
The Army suffers crime the same as the rest of society, but due to the higher requirement of discipline, they always crack down on the slightest misdemeanours. SIB detectives are equipped with the latest technology in their fight against crime. A senior NCO is caught bootlegging films and music on DVD - using Army computers. He is arrested with incontrovertible evidence against him, but escapes with a caution.
Military Policemen are continuously training for every horror. A gory double murder and suicide within the Roussillon Barracks in Chichester turns out to be a realistic exercise for the Scene of Crime Investigators, lead by leading Forensic Pathologist Dr Peter Vanezis. Afterwards a court martial tests officers skills in giving accurate evidence.
In the barracks at Osnabrook in Germany, the Redcaps are busy with a possible bomb threat, a drunk squaddie driving - but no trouble in the bars and clubs because most of the troops are away serving in Iraq. The 115 Provost Company makes a big effort to support the wives and families of soldiers fighting overseas, and the Commanding Officer's wife, Nikki Miller, gives testimony to the hardships of watching the war on television. Her 4-year-old daughter Tamzin proudly assures us that her dad is catching Saddam Hussein and as punishment he will be made to "sit on the step".
Programme - 7
Original Broadcast - Thursday 4 September, 10.30pm
The first week of June 2003 and the war in Iraq is officially over. The Royal Military Police has the massive task of trying to reconstruct a trustworthy police force, a workable legal system, fair courts and humane prisons. Covering the area of south-east Iraq centred on the city of Basra, the RMP set about rebuilding police stations and recruiting policemen, some of whom were members of the previous regime.
The new senior police officer in Um Qasar says "In the past we would slap and kick prisoners to make them confess. We now learn from the British and have to be brainy enough to make him confess - not like the old ways." Under Saddam Hussein's repressive regime, arrest and imprisonment usually meant torture and often death.
The temporary chief of police in Basra is Major Nadine Heron, the ultimate diplomat, she deals with hundreds of requests from unemployed men each day but always keeps command and gives reassurance if not re-employment. Volunteer Territorial Army Captain John Allwood makes it his personal business to give the Iraqi people dignity and security when helping them run their own affairs.
In Az Bayur, once the most lawless town in the British Sector described as a "nest of vipers", Major Simon Miller introduces joint foot patrols with Redcaps walking the streets with the new Iraq police force. A house search of former Ba'ath party members reveals a personal armoury of weapons. The suspects are taken away for questioning, but released soon after - their guns meanwhile are destroyed.
The official re-opening of the prison in Al-Maqal is a big day. Refurbished by the RMP, the prison at Al-Maqal is run by the Military Provost Staff from the "Glasshouse" or Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester. They make friends with the new staff by learning to speak a little Arabic.
The overall opinion of all the RMP interviewed in southern Iraq is optimistic and positive. "The local people have come to see the Redcap as an emblem of trust"
Programme - 8
Original Broadcast - Thursday 11 September, 10.30pm
The last episode in the series on the Royal Military Police. The war in Iraq is over, and the traditional annual Army versus Navy Rugby match takes place at the RFU in Twickenham. Policed by the Redcaps and the Metropolitan Police patrolling side by side, the event is unusually calm and well behaved as so many troops have still to return from the Gulf.
Meanwhile the trainees in Six Platoon reflect on how 22 weeks of training has changed and developed them before they receive their coveted Redcaps and pass out as Military Police officers.
Never before filmed sequences of MPs training as Close Protection Teams to protect Military and other dignitaries operating in hostile foreign territory. Surviving sudden ambush and fighting off unseen enemies with machine gun fire is routine work. And unarmed combat training makes frightening viewing.
The thrill of live firing machine guns is suddenly halted when news arrives that 6 young Redcaps have been killed in Iraq, 6 Platoon member Corporal Jon Miller, whose brother is among the dead, talks of his personal anguish and the heroism of all six of those who died. Finally, the new recruits proudly parade through Chichester, home of the Royal Military Police HQ and training School.