Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1145
TUESDAY 7 MAY 2002
CBE, AND DEPUTY
1145. Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming.
Mr Veness, this is your second appearance; the first was very
informal, in your place of work. We appreciate the documentation
you have sent to us and for giving us your expertise. Firstly,
if I may, could you outline the mechanisms through which ACPO
and TAM monitors counter-terrorism policy in the UK?
(Mr Veness) With pleasure, Chairman, and thank you
very much, on behalf of Mr Goldsmith and me, for the opportunity
to be present this afternoon. I represent this afternoon terrorism
and allied matters, my colleague, Alan Goldsmith, represents emergency
procedures, so between us we are before and after the event. The
intention of the Association of Chief Police Officers structures
is to bridge effectively between the government direction of counter-terrorism
and effective operational implementation. This begins with ACPO
TAM itself (Terrorism and Allied Matters) which is truly pan-UK.
It is an unusual ACPO committee that involves both Scotland and
1146. Where do the Welsh fit in?
(Mr Veness) England and Wales taken as read within
the traditional structures of TAM. The purpose of TAM is to be
effectively the representation of British policing in respect
of counter-terrorist matters; to be a forum wherein Government,
particularly the Home Office, can relate on these issues. It provides
us with the opportunity to formulate and present advice on counter-terrorism
and, indeed, to fit into the representational machinery of the
various government structures. It is cross-disciplinary. We invite
in the Security Service, Home Office, all of the non-Home Office
Police Services which very clearly have an interest in counter-terrorism,
so it is an inclusive body. It deals primarily with policy issues.
If I can give an example, in the autumn period, when there was
a great deal of discussion around the Counter-Terrorism Crime
and Security Act, it was ACPO TAM which was acting as the interface
with the government discussions on the development of the Act.
Immediately below that tier is the ACPO Advisory Group which is
a smaller unit, which is traditionally chaired by the occupant
of my office, but has with it the Chairman of ACPO TAM, the Chairman
of Crime and an ACPO Scotland representative. The objective of
that smaller grouping, which is supported by other agencies, is
in order that we can take rather more immediate and flexible operational
decisions if there is an initiative required, for example, around
ports policing or around the response to issues in other forms
of transport like the motorways. It also disburses an advisory
grant that funds cross-border policing activity, and it drives
certain projects which are enabling the development of counter-terrorism
in a policing sense within the UK. So that delivers the policy
and the operational cohesion. There are then bodies in place which
achieve that at the regional level. If I could use the example
of London, there is an operation known as Operation Guardian which
links together all of the policing agencies of London in order
that we address that as a united operation, rather than being
driven by cap badge or individual concerns. For example, within
the London area that is driven at least weekly by a review of
security which focusses in on the tactical, so by that means we
seek to achieve a mechanism which is always capable of development,
but we describe it as moving from PM to PC in the way that it
bridges political direction to operational reality.
1147. I should have said earlier, if there was
anything you would prefer to reserve to a private session, please
indicate to us. You mentioned ACPO TAM structures co-ordinated
with other agencies, and you mentioned London. Can you give us
an indication of other agencies, and at what point would you the
structures of ACPO TAM be linked to the other agencies?
(Mr Veness) As a matter of routine we are integrated
with all of the government departments that have a key interest
in counter-terrorism, so primarily the Home Office, Foreign and
Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence, increasingly with the
Civil Contingencies Secretariat and indeed others, and also all
of the agenciesthe Security Service, the Secret Intelligence
Service and others. The connections are routine. The method by
which that is achieved hour by hour is by linkage through the
Special Branches. They act effectively as the bridge or gateway
between agency material and the endeavours of law enforcement.
We describe that, Chairman, being that what we seek to achieve
is a golden thread by which we can move intelligence into an operation
and an operation then ideally into a prosecution, and clearly
there are considerations one needs to address at each stage of
the thread development.
1148. Has it changed in structure or intensity
post September 11?
(Mr Veness) There has been a significant development
in relation to the government structures. I think they can broadly
be described as offensive and defensive. On the offensive side
are development of the initiatives and supporting committees which
deliver counter-terrorism, if I can describe those as the attack,
and then the defence or the post-event is the consequence management
which is the Civil Contingencies Committee and its three supporting
committees of London Resilience, UK Resilience and CBRN Activity.
Mr Goldsmith and his committee play a key role on the emergency
procedures support of the civil contingencies dimension.
1149. Would you like to comment at this stage,
(Mr Goldsmith) There has been a significant increase
in intensity. That goes without doubt. What we are doing is building
on what was there before, ensuring that the relationships we have
had between ACPO and other emergency services, with CCS as it
now is rather than the Home Office, other police forces, are such
that we are in a position to respond. I think that is probably
sufficient at the moment, Chairman.
1150. What is the relationship with the Anti-Terrorist
National Co-ordinator, and in what ways are his national functions
(Mr Veness) His is a very important role, Chairman.
It is an attempt, as it were, to compensate for the fact that
we have 43 policing agencies and then add in those in Scotland
and Northern Ireland, whereby, if it were not for the provision
of national co-ordination, we could be addressing what are series
crimes. If I can look back, for example, to the activities of
the Provisional IRA, those were a series of offences which, although
they produced different impact in different locations, were linked
by dint of the organisation that had brought them about, so on
an organised crime model, if we were investigating the activities
of the Mafia, we would attack the heart of the Mafia and not deal
with the individual offences. It is precisely that model that
we are applying in terms of series crimes. These, of course, are
the most serious of the series crimes. In constitutional terms,
the position is that the National Co-ordinator is available to
be invited in by a Chief Officer in order to deal with terrorist
crime which has occurred within his locality. In practice, that
is the almost invariable position, and Chief Constables are very
much inclined to make use of these services. The practical benefit
of the arrival of the National Co-ordinator is that he brings
with him the Anti-Terrorist Branch and therefore the handling
of the scene, all that going through rubble in order to recover
minute components of explosive devices, all of the way in which
that is dealt with through the various forensic support agencies
that assist us; all of that can be brought to bear, and we achieve
a nationally consistent operation. The National Co-ordinator can
also operate in a proactive means, again down the golden thread
that I described. If an item of intelligence emerges which gives
us an opportunity to interdict terrorist acts before they have
occurred, then he has a mechanism known as an Executive Liaison
Group whereby he can call together the representatives of the
relevant agencies who will be specifically involved in that particular
case, in order that we can achieve an effective operation and
hopefully a successful prosecution as a result of that.
1151. Thank you. You mentioned earlier the Civil
Contingencies Secretariat. How have things changed since the CCS
was set up?
(Mr Veness) I think that from our perspectiveand
Alan Goldsmith may wish to commentby raising these matters
to the level of the Cabinet Office it has given these a perspective
which is pan-Whitehall and has achieved a focus and direction.
Not that a great deal of good work was not achieved by the Emergency
Planning Division of the Home 0ffice, but I think on the sheer
scale of the challenge that we now potentially confront it is
appropriate that we have a mechanism that brings together a range
of skills and talents across the various ministries and also,
I think, has usefully brought in some people who otherwise might
not have been engaged in consequence management. I think the difficulty
they have clearly confronted is that it was envisaged there would
be a slightly longer warm-up period than proved to be available,
so they have gone into action at a very much earlier stage. We
welcome the involvement with CCS. We have tried to play a key
and supportive role in helping them develop, and I think it will
prove to be an extremely beneficial development.
(Mr Goldsmith) Yes, Chairman, it has been a very positive
start, as Mr Veness says. It has enabled a pan-Whitehall view
and indeed widening out beyond that. From the emergency services
point of view and certainly from the Police Service point of view,
there has been more energy into issues. Whether the same energy
would have existed pre-September 11, of course, is difficult to
say, and we are comparing CCS essentially since that date with
Home Office EPD before that date. Having said that, by police
and others seconding staff into CCS it has brought a direction
and an energy to it which is still gathering momentum.
1152. You have anticipated my next question
about the interface widening. You have discussed that. What people
do you have on the inside, then?
(Mr Goldsmith) There is a Chief Superintendent seconded
from the Metropolitan Police, and the Fire Service have also seconded
a fire officer into there. That does mean that we have someone
within the department who has a good awareness of issues from
a policing perspective, and that has certainly aided the liaison,
so the Chief Superintendent, Roger Kember, who fulfils that role,
and I are in regular contact. That has been, from my point of
view chairing ACPO emergency procedures, a very valuable link
that we did not have before.
1153. When we questioned the Ministry of Defence
they put up a brave front when we asked them why were they not
included in any reference to the military in the consultative
paper that was issued. Are you satisfied that your views have
been well taken into account? Did you have to submit evidence?
(Mr Goldsmith) This is the review into emergency planning?
1154. Yes, that is right.
(Mr Goldsmith) Yes, ACPO submitted a response which
I co-ordinated. It has certainly been listened to. Having said
that, we are, of course, but one voice amongst a number. Most
of the issues which we are supportive of are included . There
are some issues where perhaps we would have a different perspective
and so forth, but overall the review has been open to our response,
and I have had correspondence subsequent to the draft, which I
hope will enable our voice to be heard. That is the important
1155. I do not know the protocol of your submission,
but could you have a look to see whether we could receive a copy?
(Mr Goldsmith) Certainly.
1156. We do have facilities for keeping our
copies safe, with immunity from outside prying, if necessary.
(Mr Goldsmith) Certainly. I will ensure a copy is
1157. Are you content with the local authority
lead on emergency planning?
(Mr Goldsmith) Perhaps you could clarify "local
1158. Local authority or local council emergency
planning. Do you think the police should take the lead on such
(Mr Goldsmith) My view is that there are two different
aspects. First of all, there is the planning and preparation for
emergency. The second is the response to it. The local authority
have a clear responsibility in the planning in co-ordinating,
making sure that the various plans work together. That is effective.
In terms of the response, then it is the Police Service which
co-ordinates. The phrase used in general disasters in the Home
Office is "ensuring the harmonious integration and co-operation".
It is not always harmonious, but we do try to get integration
so that we work together. My view of that is that the procedures
work at the moment. One of the issuesand that will be clear
when you see a copy of our responseis that there needs
to be clarity as to which tier of local authority we are talking
about. Where there are unitary authorities, then it is clear and
a number of unitaries now combine together. For example, in Cleveland
four unitary authorities have one joint emergency planning unit,
which is fine. Where there are shire districts and a county, then
there needs to be clarity as to which of those has that role,
and that is one recommendation that is included in our response.
1159. So where does Hartlepool fit in?
(Mr Goldsmith) Hartlepool is, it is my understanding,
one of the former areas of Cleveland. It contributes to the joint
arrangements, which works very well.
Chairman: That is surely an interesting experience
in your first exercise!