Examination of Witnesses (Questions 400
WEDNESDAY 10 APRIL 2002
400. That is all understood, I am trying to
get at how you came to the decision, you did not do it with reference
to what is going on in the Republic, you did not do it with reference
to the special situations which exist of organised crime in Northern
Ireland, some of which is paramilitary related, some is not, some
is to do with the fact that Northern Ireland is the only part
of the United Kingdom with a land border which makes smuggling
in and things of that sort much easier, you did not do it with
reference to either of those benchmarks, so what did you do it
with reference to?
(Mr Stadlen) First of all, we were very much aware
of the position in Ireland, the role of the CAB, and I have visited
the CAB as have others. Just to repeat: we have been working closely
with the NIO from the outset so we have been informed of those
401. Maybe I am not understanding the way you
are putting this. Sure, you consulted Northern Ireland but there
has been no input from the Northern Ireland demands into your
figure yet, that is coming later. There was no input from the
experience of the Republic of Ireland, that is coming later. But
you have now arrived at a figure.
(Mr Stadlen) The needs of Northern Ireland was an
issue that was taken into account in setting a global figure for
402. Now perhaps you can help me. If you had
not done that, would the global figure have been smaller or larger
or about the same? That was the first question I asked you the
other way round.
(Mr Stadlen) I do not think I can give you an answer
to that question. I think I have given you about as much information
as I have at the moment.
403. I want to ask you about staffing. Just
to labour this point, I want to clarify something which has been
at the back of my mind on the issues which have just been raised.
Somewhere I seem to have at the back of my mind a figure that
has been quoted as this raising £200 million. Now is that
correct and if it is not correct has any assessment been made
of the likely revenue gain from this particular Department?
(Mr Stadlen) You mean from the Asset Recovery Agency?
(Mr Stadlen) No, we have not given any estimate of
how much money the Agency might raise. What we have pointed out
is that a survey that was carried out of the law enforcement agencies
in 1999-2000 identified potentially the availability of very large
sums of money which the law enforcement agencies believe to be
the proceeds of criminal activity. Many of these assets are in
the possession of people who are unlikely to be successfully prosecuted.
So the potential sums of money available for civil recovery are
very great but it would be very difficult at this stage, especially
with such an innovative power, to try to quantify what the results
405. Okay. Accepting that, if it is successful,
and all the evidence on the Irish experience is that it should
be, there is going to be a flow of money, half of which will be
available to law and order initiatives across the range. Here
we have an unusual situation where you have got what is effectively
people being employed to levy a tax which is actually likely to
be exceedingly popular and the money can be used for equally popular
measures. So you have not just got a win/win situation, you have
got a win/win/win situation. Do you think in that context you
would be able to expand the number of staff employed?
(Mr Stadlen) As the Bill is drafted the Agency is
(Mr Stadlen) It cannot keep its receipts and plough
them back into expansion. Obviously in deciding future levels
of spending under future reviews past success and past receipts
would be a factor that could be taken into account.
407. Yes. As far as the actual staff themselves
are concerned, how are they going to be recruited?
(Mr Stadlen) It is likely we will need to use a mixture
of recruitment and secondments from other Agencies.
408. Certainly experience in Ireland was that
a high level of secondees were from other agencies. You will be
recruiting fresh personnel as well. Will that involve, shall we
say, different training programmes than perhaps we have today?
(Mr Stadlen) Well, one of the steps that we have already
taken is to appoint a development manager for the Financial Investigation
Centre of Excellence. That development manager, who has some staff
as well now, he is attached now to my unit in the Home Office.
In due course he will become absorbed into the Assets Recovery
Agency. One of the functions of the Centre of Excellence is to
provide training services to enable the supply of trained financial
investigators to be increased because there is a shortage of people
with this particular skill. We hope that the Centre of Excellence
will increase the supply and that will make it easier to find
people to staff not only the Agency but also financial investigation
units within police forces.
409. What sort of qualifications will be expected
of them and what sort of salary ranges will we be talking about?
(Mr Stadlen) There is already an existing training
programme for financial investigators and the standards used in
that training are being reviewed by the Centre of Excellence.
The Centre will make recommendations about the levels of qualification
that will be required.
410. You have not said anything about salaries
and I appreciate that to a certain extent that will be dependent
upon the recommendations. But looking at the area as a whole people
with these sorts of skills can earn quite a lot of money in the
private sector. How are you looking at competing effectively with
the private sector to get people with the ability and skills to
make the sort of impact that you want them to make?
(Mr Stadlen) Part of the answer to that is that so
far as the staff of the Agency are concerned, the Bill gives the
Director the power to decide what staff he needs and what their
terms and conditions should be. He will be the person who decides
what levels of qualification he wants and where he should fish
in order to find the people he needs, which pools he should fish.
Yes, you are right, there is a shortage of skills in this area
and the private sector is one of the pools in which resources
may have to be found. That will have to be taken into account
in determining salaries.
411. Can I ask if the Agency will have access
to the various databases of associated organisations like police,
Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue?
(Mr Stadlen) Part 10 of the Bill provides powers for
the police and Customs and other committed persons to disclose
information to the Director to enable him to carry out his functions.
412. Is that a yes or no?
(Mr Stadlen) The answer is that they will be able
to provide him with information.
413. But can he require it of them?
(Mr Stadlen) He cannot require it of them. The Bill
permits them to disclose information to him subject to the requirements
of the Data Protection Act.
414. I am not sure if this is an unfair question
or not but which would you prefer had you been drawing up the
Bill? If you do not want to answer that I will understand.
(Mr Stadlen) I was involved in drawing up the Bill.
415. Can I just be clear when you answered Mr
Pound's question you said police and Customs, you did not mention
(Mr Stadlen) Yes, the Revenue are also permitted.
416. They are included in that?
(Mr Stadlen) Yes, they are.
417. A slip of the tongue. So often the Inland
Revenue are separate from police and Customs in these regulations.
(Mr Stadlen) Yes.
418. Not in the case of my personal finances
sadly. Would you have preferred the Director to have the right
to call down the information or are you happy with it being available
(Mr Stadlen) I am happy, I think, that the information
gateways provided by the Bill look as though they should work.
419. How about the devolved institutions particularly
in Northern Ireland, for example the Social Security Agency, do
you have access to those databases?
(Mr Stadlen) Sorry, could you repeat the question?