Memorandum submitted by the National Crime
Since its creation in 1998, the issue of police
reform has assumed increasing importance to the National Crime
Squad. As the organisation's operational effectiveness has developed,
certain difficulties have presented themselves in terms of legislative
confines, which fail to take account of our unique position in
the realm of law enforcement. Such difficulties have inhibited
our ability to shape the organisation as we would like in order
to ensure that we fulfil our stated objective, "To combat
national and international serious and organised crime."
To that end, the National Crime Squad welcomes
the current debate and is broadly supportive of the measures proposed
in the Police Reform Bill. Many of the clauses do not apply to
our work and we have therefore confined our response to those,
which will impact directly on our business.
Clause 15: General duties of police authorities,
chief officers and inspectors.
This relates to assisting the functioning of
the Independent Police Complaints Commission established by clause
9. It appears to be the intention that a general duty is placed
upon the Director General of the National Crime Squad to provide
assistance to other forces and to the IPCC itself in carrying
out investigations, irrespective of whether the investigation
relates to a member of the NCS. We are concerned by the potential
impact this will have on our operational resources and that such
investigations will divert attention away from law enforcement.
Clause 33: Police powers for police authority
The National Crime Squad would be assisted greatly
by an extension of power to civilian employees. Many of our operations
are supported by civilian investigators working in specialised
areas such as forensic science, financial investigation and hi-tech
crime. The NCS anticipates that the development of the organisation
will require an enhanced role for non-police officers in these
and other areas. We therefore welcome the proposed extension of
their powers in order that we might maximise their skills and
afford such employees a greater level of participation in investigations.
Ultimately, the desired position would be for
the NCS, within controlled limits, to be able to grant full police
powers to civilians. Future police reform might like to consider
granting us the power in certain circumstances to create our own
constables. We would draw an analogy with the recruitment strategy
of the FBI. They have the power to engage an officer from, for
example, the NYPD. However, they are also able to engage those
who are not police officers but who posses a high level of expertise
in specific areas and grant them full FBI powers. Recruitment
of experts has the potential to add great value to our organisation.
We would receive highly trained specialists in areas such as surveillance
and undercover work, which would more than offset training costs
to equip them with the requisite policing skills.
We appreciate that this constitutes a significant
departure from the current recruitment process for police officers.
However, we are of the opinion that at present we have a wealth
of skill closed off to us as such highly trained individuals are
unlikely to pursue a career with the police in view of the present
requirements of a two year probationary period. Although we fully
accept the need and value of such a training period, it would
have to be reassessed in order that these individuals were not
removed from their operational remit and that their skill level
In addition, it must be highlighted that the
Bill specifically refers to civilians as "police authority"
employees to whom the "chief officer" has designated
extended powers. Civilians working for the NCS are employed by
the NCS Service Authority and any extension of powers would have
to be granted by the Director General. At present, it appears
that the Bill fails to make such provision.
Clause 56: Ministry of Defence police serving
with other forces
The provision to grant seconded officers the
same powers and privileges as a member of the NCS is to be welcomed.
However, their very narrow remit of investigation would bring
with it an expensive need for training to enable them to work
effectively with us.
In addition, an equally pressing obstacle prevents
us from according equal status to seconded officers from Her Majesty's
Customs and Excise and the Immigration Service. This poses a number
of difficulties for joint operations and secondments and is a
position, which requires reform.
Clause 65: Police members of NCS
We welcome the inclusion of this clause. The
ability to recruit and retain our own police officers from a wide
variety of policing sources will be of enormous benefit to the
organisation in terms of operational continuity and cost-effectiveness.
In addition, it would allow the NCS to present to officers a realistic
career path. At present, many officers are deterred from applying
to the NCS, the perception being that a secondment to the NCS
means putting your career on hold. Direct recruitment would therefore
ensure that we are able to attract and retain the brightest and
As an organisation we must ensure that we have
a sound framework of policy and procedure in place to support
this reform to make certain that direct recruitment is managed
effectively. It is therefore unlikely that we would be looking
to recruit officers via this route until next year.
Finally, along with direct recruitment must
come an amendment to current disciplinary regulations to give
the NCS the ability to impose misconduct procedures against such
officers (those who are seconded would still be investigated by
their respective force). Without such change it will be impossible
for us to implement this clause.
The National Crime Squad