Most of my police career was spent in Special Branch. The first Special Branch, or Special Irish Branch, as it was then known, was a unit of London’s Metropolitan Police formed in March 1883 to combat the Irish Republican Brotherhood. The name became Special Branch as the unit’s remit widened to include more than just Irish Republican-related counterespionage.
SB’s remit grew somewhat over the decades. The intelligence work of Special Branch sits somewhere between that of the Security Service (MI5) and that of the Metropolitan Police Anti-Terrorist Branch (SO13). It was announced, in September 2005, that the Metropolitan Police Special Branch would be merging with the Anti-Terrorism Branch of the Metropolitan Police to form a new department called Counter Terrorism Command. The new department came into being on 2 October 2006. The main function for all these branches was to collect evidence and arrest the enemies of the United Kingdom who lived on home territory. Historically, these have been Irish republicans and unionists, intelligence agents and extremists and terrorists.
Under British law, MI5 officers are not permitted actually to lay hands on members of the public. Observations, surveillance, lawful interception, arrests, interviews and preparing cases for prosecution are usually done by the Special Branch.
Special Branch have responsibility for the personal protection of (non-royal) VIPs, and are examining officers at designated ports and airports, as prescribed by the Terrorism Act 2000.
Personally, I was a surveillance operative, close protection officer and agent handler within Special Branch. The training and experience I have gives our clients here at Valkyrie the confidence and knowledge that they will always receive an excellent and thorough service, bespoke to their needs.