House of Commons - Explanatory Note
Police Reform Bill - continued          House of Commons

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Clause 72: Police members of NCS

361.     With the exception of senior officers, the Police Act 1997 only allows police officers to be seconded to NCS, rather than working there permanently. Furthermore, it restricts secondments to NCS to officers from the forty-three forces of England and Wales. This is more limited than the provisions in the 1997 Act relating to NCIS, and reflects the fact that the NCS operates only in England and Wales.

362.     This clause amends section 55 of the Police Act 1997 to extend the secondment provisions in the Police Act 1997, enabling NCS to take officers from the Ministry of Defence police on secondment.

363.     It also provides, for the first time, that NCS may recruit police officers of any rank directly from police forces, rather than rely solely on secondments. NCIS will advertise for officers in the same way as territorial forces. The intention is that only serving police officers may apply, but from a wide range of forces. In addition to the forces from which NCS will be able to second, NCS will be able to recruit officers from Scotland, Northern Ireland, the British Transport Police and from the Channel Islands and Isle of Man. The recruitment pool (but not the secondment pool) for NCIS and NCS will be identical.

364.     Subsection (2) provides that, subject to new subsection (3) police officers of any rank may be appointed as police members of NCS, in addition to being engaged there on temporary service.

365.     Subsection (3) replaces the existing subsection (3) to provide that police officers may be recruited from: any force maintained under section 2 of the Police Act 1996; the Metropolitan Police; the City of London Police; police forces in Scotland; the Police Service of Northern Ireland; the National Criminal Intelligence Service; the Ministry of Defence Police; the British Transport Police; and the police forces of Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man. It also provides that officers on temporary service in the NCS may be recruited on a permanent basis.

366.     Subsection (4) amends subsection (9) to provide that the appointment of police officers at the rank of assistant chief constable may not be delegated to the Director General from the Service Authority.

367.     Subsection (5) adds a new subsection (9A), which defines 'temporary service'. The effect of this provision is to extend the pool of officers who may be seconded to NCS to include officers from the Ministry of Defence Police.

Clauses 73 and 74: Regulations for NCIS and NCS

368.     Clauses 73 and 74 introduce powers to make regulations in respect of NCIS and NCS similar to that contained in section 50 of the Police Act 1996. This brings NCIS and NCS into line with police forces as regards the framework that applies to the employment of police officers. The need for such regulation-making powers is consequential on the introduction of direct recruitment provided for in clauses 71 and 72. As a result of direct recruitment, the organisations will, for example, require a formal rank structure and promotion system. That has not been necessary in relation to officers on secondment, who bring their rank and conditions of service with them.

369.     Subsection (1) of each clause inserts into the Police Act 1997 a new section (sections 34A and 79A respectively). The regulations may cover such issues as pay and allowances, rank structure and promotion. In the case of NCIS, which has UK-wide jurisdiction, the Secretary of State is required to consult the Scottish Ministers before making regulations under this section. That is not a requirement for NCS, because NCS operates in England and Wales only.

370.     Subsection (2) of each clause amends, respectively, sections 37 and 81 of the Police Act 1997 to make similar provision for NCIS and NCS as clause 33 does for the conduct of disciplinary proceedings against members of Home Office forces. This will enable regulations to be made for NCIS and NCS covering the rights of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in regards to disciplinary proceedings; the right of specified persons to participate in or to be present at disciplinary proceedings; the representation of persons subject to disciplinary proceedings; and to provide for inference to be drawn from a failure to mention a fact when questioned or charged in disciplinary proceedings. New subsection (2A)(c) does not appear in clause 34 because section 84 of the Police Act 1996 already covers the representation of persons in police forces subject to disciplinary proceedings in sufficient detail. New subsection (2B) restricts application of these provisions to NCIS to England and Wales, since that is the jurisdiction of the IPCC.

371.     Subsection (3) of each clause introduces provisions that mirror section 85(1) of the Police Act 1996, bringing NCIS and NCS into line with Home Office forces, where officers below the rank of chief superintendent can be reduced in rank as part of the disciplinary process.

Clauses 75 and 76: Supplementary provisions about police membership of NCIS and NCS

372.     The supplementary provisions contained in these clauses provide that officers recruited to NCIS and NCS will be covered by the police representative institutions identified in the Police Act 1996. Officers in NCIS and NCS will be eligible to be represented by the Police Federation. The Police Negotiating Board will represent their interests and the Secretary of State will be required to consult the Police Negotiating Board before making regulations under new section 34A or 79A. Similarly, the Police Advisory Board will have the duty of advising on general matters relating to officers recruited by either organisation and the Secretary of State will be required to consult the Police Advisory Board before making regulations in relation to such officers. Subsections (6) and (7) in each clause makes it clear that the provisions in the Police Act 1997 relating to retirement of police members of NCIS and NCS in the interests of efficiency or effectiveness refer only to police officers of Assistant Chief Constable rank and above. The provisions do not apply to senior civilian members of the two organisations, who are covered by their terms and conditions of service.

Clause 77: Police authorities to produce three-year strategy plans

373.     This clause amends the Police Act 1996, requiring police authorities to produce, every three years, a plan that sets out the strategic direction and focus for the force area, incorporating an overview of demographic changes since the previous plan and any consequential refocusing of policing activity and resources. The purpose of the plan is to focus on the medium to longer term direction of the force, which is often not possible in the annual plans that they already produce. It should highlight future developments required for the effective policing of the force area, taking into account local circumstances and proposed national initiatives.

374.     Subsection (1) inserts a new section 6A in the Police Act 1996. New section 6A(1) requires the production of a new three-year strategy plan by police authorities.

375.     New section 6A(2) says that the first draft of the strategy plan is to be prepared for the police authority by the chief officer of the force area.

376.     New section 6A(5) refers to the new annual National Policing Plan, which is introduced by clause 1 of this Bill. It requires a police authority or chief officer, in issuing, preparing or modifying the strategy plan, to have regard to the National Policing Plan currently in force. Consequently, and also in view of the possibility of local changes, new section 6A(4) makes provision for the police authority to amend the strategy plan during its three year span.

377.     In turn, the three-year strategy plan will inform the subordinate plans already required of police authorities. New section 6A(13) ensures that this is the case for the best value plan required under section 6 of the Local Government Act 1999. Similarly, subsection (2) ensures that this is the case for the local policing plan required under section 8 of the Police Act 1996. Subsection (3) requires that the police authority's annual report, provided for under section 9 of the Police Act 1996, assesses the extent to which the strategy plan has been implemented.

378.     New section 6A(3) requires the chief officer to have regard to the views of the public in the force area before he submits the first draft of the strategy plan. These are to be obtained in accordance with the procedures already in place under section 96 of the Police Act 1996, which requires police authorities to make arrangements for, amongst other things, obtaining the views of the people in the force area about matters concerning the policing of the area.

379.     New section 6A(6) says that the Secretary of State must issue (and can revise) guidance on the form and content of the strategy plans, to which police authorities and chief officers must have regard. Before issuing or revising such guidance, the Secretary of State must consult those whom he considers represent the interests of police authorities and chief officers of police. Where this formulation occurs in existing legislation, the Secretary of State currently consults the Association of Police Authorities (APA) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and/or the Chief Police Officers' Staff Association (CPOSA). The Secretary of State may also consult anyone else he chooses (new section 6A(7)).

380.     Before the plan, or any amendment to it, is finalised, the police authority is required to submit it to the Secretary of State (new section 6A(8)). If the Secretary of State concludes that the proposed plan, or any modification to it, is inconsistent with the National Policing Plan, he must inform the police authority of his conclusions, having first consulted the relevant authority and chief officer and persons whom he considers represent the interests of police authorities and chief officers of police as a whole (new sections 6A(10) and (11)). New section 6A(9) provides that plans should be published and a copy sent to the Secretary of State.

381.     New section 6A(12) ensures that the police authority consults with the chief officer before altering a three year strategy plan in any way.

382.     New section 6A(14) provides that the procedure for submitting plans and the start date of the first set of strategy plans will be set out by regulations made by statutory instrument. The period to be covered by the first strategy plan may be less than three years to enable the planning periods for police authority plans to be aligned with those for Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs).

Clause 78: Quorum for the Service Authorities under the 1997 Act

383.     This clause replaces the quorum for the NCIS and NCS Service Authorities as set out in paragraph 4(1) of Schedule 2A to the Police Act 1997 (Schedule 2A was introduced by Schedule 6 to the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001). The quorum provisions of the 2001 Act have not been brought into effect.

384.     The quorum introduced in the 2001 Act replaced a simple quorum of one quarter of the membership. This was contained in Schedule 1 to the Police Act 1997 (Provisions in relation to the NCIS Service Authority) Order 1998 (SI 1998/63), which introduced provisions analogous to those applying to police authorities. That was repealed as a consequence of the repeal of section 44 of the 1997 Act.

385.     The quorum currently in the 2001 Act requires the attendance of at least one ACPO member and at least one APA member, as well as an independent member appointed by the Secretary of State. The problem is that there is only one ACPO member and one APA member on the new NCIS Service Authority. If either one were absent, the effectiveness of the Service Authority would be seriously impeded, as it would not be able to conduct any formal business. The effect on the NCS Service Authority is less serious, because it has two ACPO and two APA members.

386.     The quorum introduced in this Bill will require a minimum of four members to be present (of a membership of 11). Of the four, at least one must be, under new paragraph (1A)(a), a person appointed by the Secretary of State (an independent member) and at least two others must be, under new paragraph (1A)(b), core members, but not Crown Servants appointed under paragraph 6 or 6A of Schedule 1 to the 1997 Act by the Secretary of State or a customs officer. The common core membership of the two service authorities is eight strong and comprises: 3 or 4 independent members (including the Chairman) appointed by the Secretary of State, 1 or 2 (depending on the number of independent members) Crown Servants appointed by the Secretary of State, 1 chief police officer, 1 member of a police authority, and 1 customs officer.

387.     Paragraph 4(1) of Schedule 2A to the Police Act 1997 was not brought into effect with other provisions introduced by Schedule 6 to the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001. This means that there will be no statutory quorum for the Service Authorities from April 2002, when the new Authorities start work, until provisions contained in this Bill are brought into effect. Appropriate interim measures are being introduced in the standing orders of the Service Authorities.

Clause 79: Expenses of members of police authorities etc.

388.     Paragraph 25 of Schedule 2 to the Police Act 1996 provided that a police authority may pay its members such expenses and allowances as the Secretary of State may determine. This provision was amended by section 107 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 to remove the Secretary of State's automatic prescription as to schemes for paying allowances. Police authorities are now free to determine their own schemes of allowances for their chairmen, vice chairmen and other members. The amended provision, however, requires police authorities when making or revising arrangements for the payment of allowances to have regard to any guidance from the Secretary of State. It also gives the Secretary of State a reserve power to limit by regulation the allowances paid. Separate provisions were made for the Metropolitan Police Authority and for all other police authorities outside London. This is because members of the Metropolitan Police Authority who are members of the Greater London Assembly are salaried and as such may not be paid allowances in performance of their duties on the police authority. The position as regards to expenses remained unchanged.

389.     This clause aims to remove this distinction and bring the provisions relating to expenses into line with those on allowances. The exception is that while Greater London Assembly members of the Metropolitan Police Authority may not be paid allowances, they may receive reimbursement of expenses.

390.     Subsections (1) and (2) amend paragraph 25A of Schedule 2 to the Police Act 1996 and paragraph 20A of Schedule 2A to the Police Act 1996 to add the reimbursement of expenses to existing provision on the payment of allowances to members of police authorities outside London and to members of the Metropolitan Police Authority.

391.     Subsection (3) amends sub-paragraph (6) of paragraph 20A of Schedule 2A to the Police Act 1996 to make it clear that the reference in that sub-paragraph disallowing payment to any member of the Metropolitan Police Authority who is also a member of the London Assembly refers only to allowances and not to expenses.

392.     Subsections (4)(a) and (b) repeal the remaining provisions in the Police Act 1996 whereby police authorities outside London and the Metropolitan Police Authority may only make reimbursement of expenses as the Secretary of State may determine.

Clause 80: President of ACPO

393.     The Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland (ACPO) represents chief officers of police above the rank of chief superintendent. The President of ACPO, elected by the membership, is drawn from among the ranks of the chief constables of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and the Commissioner of the City of London Police. (The Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioners of the MPS are equivalent ranks to chief constable.) Currently, the President of ACPO serves for one year and remains in charge of his force during that time. From April 2003, the ACPO President will be elected for three years and will either resign or retire from his force. This clause makes provision for the President of ACPO to retain the office of constable and the rank of chief constable during his term of office.

Clause 81: Crime and disorder reduction partnerships

394.     The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 provides a statutory framework for responsible authorities - currently chief officers of police and local authorities, and commonly known as Crime and Disorder Reduction Partnerships (CDRPs) - to formulate and implement a strategy to reduce crime and disorder in their area. They must co-operate with a wide range of other local agencies, including probation, health, police authorities and the private and voluntary sector. There are 354 CDRPs in England and 22 in Wales.

395.     Drug Action Teams (DATs) were set up in 1995 under the white paper Tackling Drugs Together (CM 2846) with responsibility for delivering the Government's anti-drugs programmes at a local level. Although not formally accountable for their overall performance (they do not have statutory status), DATs are financially accountable for the sums of money which come to them as pooled budgets. There are 149 DATs in England, aligned along local authority boundaries. They bring together senior representatives of all the local agencies involved in tackling the misuse of drugs, including the health authority, local authority, police, probation, social services, education and youth services, and the voluntary sector. In Wales, the relevant bodies are Drug and Alcohol Action Teams (DAATs) with responsibility for delivery of local strategies on substance misuse.

396.     This clause requires CDRPs also to formulate and implement a strategy for combating the misuse of drugs. This will raise local delivery of the National Drugs Strategy onto a statutory footing. In order to maintain the profile of treatment-related aspects of the Drugs Strategy and the contribution of health to the wider crime and disorder reduction agenda, Primary Care Trusts in England and health authorities in Wales will be deemed responsible authorities for development and delivery of the wider crime reduction agenda. This should also - particularly in conjunction with the other changes - provide greater scope to consider how best CDRPs and DATs can work together more effectively at the local level. The clause also raises police authorities to the level of responsible authorities (currently, existing responsible authorities are required to co-operate with police authorities in formulating a crime and disorder reduction strategy, and vice versa, but police authorities are not responsible authorities). In addition, the clause designates fire authorities as responsible authorities. The Bill also proposes that partnership areas may merge in the interests of reducing crime and disorder or the misuse of drugs.

397.     This clause and clause 82 apply slightly differently to Wales compared to England. This is because local government is a devolved matter, for which the National Assembly for Wales is responsible.

398.     Moreover, in as far as this clause and clause 82 relate to local government areas in Wales, they come into force on the days that the National Assembly for Wales will specify by order made by statutory instrument (see clause 92(4)).

399.     Subsection (1)     provides for amendments to the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which establishes the requirement for responsible authorities - chief officers of police and local authorities - jointly to formulate and implement a crime and disorder reduction strategy for their area.

400.     Subsection (2) adds police authorities and fire authorities to the list of responsible authorities required to formulate and implement a crime and disorder reduction strategy. It also provides that the relevant health organisation is added to that list. In England, this is every Primary Care Trust the whole or part of which lies within the local government area; in Wales, this is every health authority the whole or part of which lies within the local government area.

401.     Subsection (3)     provides that the Secretary of State may by order merge two or more partnership areas in England if he considers it would be in the interests of reducing crime and disorder or the misuse of drugs. Such an order may be at the joint request of the relevant responsible authorities or on the direction of the Secretary of State after consultation with the responsible authorities.

402.     Subsection (4) amends the provisions in the 1998 Act for consultation with stakeholders who are not responsible authorities under that Act. The effect of subsection (4)(a) is to remove the obligation to consult the relevant police authority and health organisation, as under this Bill these are now responsible authorities. Subsection (4)(b) adds that, in Wales, the National Assembly for Wales may specify by order other persons or bodies to be consulted.

403.     Subsection (5) allows the National Assembly for Wales to specify by order other persons or bodies to be asked to participate in the exercise of functions by the responsible authorities. This is in addition to those whom the Secretary of State may specify by order under current legislation.

404.     Subsection (7)     maintains the requirement for the responsible authorities in England and Wales to produce a strategy for the reduction of crime and disorder in the area and provides a new requirement for those in England to produce a strategy for combating misuse of drugs and for those in Wales to produce a strategy combating substance misuse (reflecting the wider remit of DAATs in Wales than DATs in England).

405.     Subsection (8) makes further provision for responsible authorities in Wales when formulating and implementing a strategy combating substance misuse: responsible authorities must also have regard to guidance issued by the National Assembly for Wales.

406.     Subsection (9) makes similar provision for reviews by responsible authorities as subsection (7) does regarding the production of strategies by responsible authorities. It retains the existing requirement for responsible authorities in England and Wales to carry out a review of the levels of patterns of crime and disorder in the area, and provides a new requirement for those in England to carry out a review of the levels and patterns of the misuse of drugs in the area and for those in Wales to carry out a review of the levels and patterns of substance misuse in the area.

407.     Subsection (10) provides for the responsible authorities to submit a review of implementation of their strategies within one month of the end of each reporting period - in England to the Secretary of State, and in Wales to the Secretary of State and to the National Assembly for Wales.

408.     Subsection (11) provides that the reporting period for submission of a review on implementation of the strategy shall be on an annual basis.

409.     Subsection (12) adds combined fire authorities to those authorities on which there is a duty to do all that they reasonably can do to prevent crime and disorder in their area in the exercise of their functions. This brings combined fire authorities into line with non-metropolitan local authorities exercising their function as fire authorities and metropolitan fire authorities who are presently tasked under section 17(2) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 with this duty.

410.     Subsection (13) allows the National Assembly of Wales as well as the Secretary of State to exercise powers of Ministers by statutory instrument. It also stipulates that the new order-making powers for the Secretary of State (but not the National Assembly for Wales) proposed under this clause will be subject to negative resolution procedure.

411.     Subsection (14) addresses a different matter. It amends section 115(2) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 to permit any person (including a chief officer of police) to make disclosures, including personal information, to a parish council (sometimes known as a town council) in England and a community council in Wales, where it is expedient for the purposes of that Act.

412.     Subsection (15) makes transitional provision for England to ensure that the provisions of the Bill apply to the period before Primary Care Trusts are established.

Clause 82: Secretary of State's functions in relation to strategies

413.     This clause inserts a new section 6A in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, which requires the formulation and implementation of local strategies for the reduction of crime and disorder.

414.     New section 6A(1) provides for the Secretary of State by order subject to the negative resolution procedure to require responsible authorities to make provision in their strategies for specified areas of crime or disorder. It also makes provision for the Secretary of State by order subject to the negative resolution procedure to require responsible authorities in England to ensure that any strategies combating the misuse of drugs encompass such other forms of substance misuse as the order specifies. This would enable bringing the remit of English responsible authorities into line with that of their Welsh counterparts.

415.     New section 6A(2) requires that responsible authorities submit a copy of their strategies, and a copy of the documents required under section 6(5), to the Secretary of State. The documents referred to under section 6(5) must include a list of co-operating persons and bodies, the reviews discussed in clause 81, a report based on the review, and the strategy - including objectives, lead groups pursuing those objectives, and performance targets. New section 6A(3) stipulates that responsible authorities must have regard to any guidance issued by the Secretary of State on the form and content for the publication of any document to be published under section 6(5). New section 6A(4) provides that any proposed changes by the responsible authorities to their strategies must also be sent to the Secretary of State.

416.     New section 6A(5) states that all references to the Secretary of State in new sections 6A(2) to 6A(4) refer, in relation to a local government area in Wales, to the National Assembly for Wales as well as the Secretary of State. Consequently, the power to issue guidance is only exercisable by the Secretary of State and the National Assembly for Wales acting jointly.

417.     New section 6A(6) provides definitions of terms used in the clause.

 
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Prepared: 30 April 2002