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UNCORRECTED TRANSCRIPT OF ORAL EVIDENCE
This is an uncorrected transcript of evidence taken in public and reported to the House. The transcript has been placed on the internet on the authority of the Committee, and copies have been made available by the Vote Office for the use of Members and others.
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Keith Vaz (Chair)
Dr Julian Huppert
Mr David Winnick
Witnesses: Sir Hugh Orde, President, ACPO, and Mick Creedon, Chief Constable of Derbyshire, gave evidence.
Q98 Chair: Can I call the Committee to order and ask everyone present to mention to the Committee any specific declarations of interest they have, other than whatever is in the Register of Member’s Interests? Mr Michael?
Alun Michael: I suppose we are on policing, so I should declare that my son is the chief executive of the North Wales Police Authority.
Chair: Thank you. Mr Reckless? Are you a member of the Kent Policy Authority?
Mark Reckless: Yes, but I ceased being councillor about now, so I may or may not still be a member. I am coming off about this time.
Q99 Chair: It is something we will have to inquire into. This is a further evidence session. This is an inquiry into the new landscape of policing. I welcome to the dais Sir Hugh Orde and Mr Creedon. Welcome. Thank you for coming today. Sir Hugh, we see a letter in The Times from you today signed with the President of the Police Superintendents’ Association and the Chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales; you seem a bit cross at some of the coverage you have been getting. What prompted this letter?
Sir Hugh Orde: Not cross, Chairman, at all. Just keen to, I think, put the balance into the public domain for a sensible debate. I was at a conference only very recently where the Policing Minister spoke. It was the one where he suggested some chief constables are slightly noisy. That was followed by Nick Gargan, who suggested-inaccurately-that some federated members may have travelled in a slightly luxurious way, and then I followed those two speakers.
It was an interesting conference, Chairman, but what struck me from the federated members in the room was this deep sense that they were not being clearly understood by the reporting in the press, and they were very proud of what they did and they are very proud of the people they represented, and they were asking me, quite rightly, "What are you doing, Sir Hugh, to reflect that balance?" Actually we are very successful, most of the time. We fully accept the need for transparency; we fully accept the fact we make mistakes, but we do not sense there is any real balance in some of the reporting currently. The point we were simply trying to make was that we understand the need to learn from some of the experiences currently discussed, but let us be clear, morale will remain reasonably high despite these changes, and we will continue to strive to do effective service and reduce crime.
Q100 Chair: If you believe in full transparency, why did The Times have to put in a request under the Freedom of Information Act in order to reveal information that 300 police officers have been disciplined for sexual offences in the past five years, and that a total of 231 misconduct hearings had taken place for this and other offences, and that 160 officers are dismissed from the police service on an annual basis. Surely, if you agree that there ought to be transparency, there is a need not to conduct these hearings in private, and when people ask for information, it should be given. This is a very large number of police officers who are involved in what appear to be criminal and disciplinary matters.
Sir Hugh Orde: Out of a force of 140,000, I think what it shows is zero tolerance for misbehaviour. I speak as an ex-Chief, and I am sure Mick may want to make some comments as a currently operational Chief, but many of those disciplinary cases were brought to my attention by officers who would not tolerate misbehaviour by their colleagues, to maintain the standards they are very proud of. I am sure Mr Reckless, with his experience of the Police Authority, will probably have some similar stories to tell. They don’t accept misbehaviour or low standards.
It could have been written in a very different way. It could have been a very positive story about the willingness of chief officers to dismiss people. The acquittal rate, I think, was about 2%. That is far lower, I think, than any Crown Court in the land. It shows a very hard edge and an intolerance, in my judgment.
In terms of FOI, I don’t think the journalist needs to use FOI. If he picked up the phone to call me in my previous job, I would have happily given him those figures. Most of these figures are published in the annual reports of Police Authority anyway. They are a matter of public record. I suspect it was a tactic. It is a good first line, "I have acquired this through FOI." Frankly, what it does to the police service is overwhelm them with huge demands for information, much of which is actually lazy journalists not bothering to do research themselves, which costs money and takes people off frontline policing. Mr Creedon may wish to comment as an operational chief.
Mick Creedon: I would agree, and I think the important point to yesterday’s story was exactly what Hugh said. There is a zero tolerance. Certainly my own force we have had a number of occasions of complaints from the public and from officers that behaviour is inappropriate, and it has not met the criminal standard. The issue of whether hearings are held in public or private is a separate one and the IPCC will have a view on that. The article, I think, was fine, and I think the FOI, I assume, is a means by which the journalist will be able to get full coverage. To do the alternative, to ring round and have a point of contact, is pretty complicated.
Q101 Chair: But in future you are going to make this information readily available, are you?
Mick Creedon: It has not been requested along these lines. It depends what the request would look like. I mean, again, these are not crucial hearings.
Q102 Chair: If this Committee wrote to you and asked if this person could have-
Mick Creedon: I would have no problem at all in releasing information about people dealt with in my force for misconduct. The Police Authority will have a panel that looks at misconduct alongside my own force. Every force will be the same. We have no problem giving the details of who has been dealt with and whatever the punishments are.
Q103 Chair: Turning to the new proposals that Peter Neyroud has just published, and he gave evidence to the Committee last week, are you satisfied with these proposals? When you took over ACPO, Sir Hugh, I think people thought this was a fresh start, a new broom and someone with undoubted leadership skills that was going to save ACPO, but ACPO is going to go. Is this a matter of regret?
Sir Hugh Orde: I am not sure it is an issue of saving ACPO or not, but the question is: what is the best national structure to co-ordinate national policing that is an improvement on what we currently have, which is frankly a band of volunteers drawn up over time? This was a point made, because we have had this conversation before, by Lord Hurd many years ago to this very Committee.
Peter has been tasked, as you know, by the Home Secretary. He has written a report. We are broadly supportive of his findings, but we have a 90-day consultation period so the Home Secretary gets all the views before we have a serious look at what we can implement and what we can’t.
In terms of a chartered institute, I am personally in favour of that. I think it professionalises policing or recognises policing as a profession and gives us a chance to make sure we maintain certain standards. Indeed, it is linked, I think, quite tightly to what Mr Winsor’s review is coming up with, and without some proper standards Mr Winsor’s pay system will be difficult to implement.
That all having been said, we still come up against this difficult territory when you are trying to deliver a consistent approach to deal with national threats of some structure whereby the chief constables have to come together to agree those operational standards.
Q104 Chair: This is what you said in your written evidence to us. There will remain a need for a means of ensuring that collective operational decision-making of chief constables can be co-ordinated.
Sir Hugh Orde: Which is why I think the Strategic Policing Requirements, currently being worked on by Government, and the protocol is critical to the success of the whole national policing infrastructure. We have absolute clarity about how that is all going to work, and we focus at the national level on only things that are truly national or international.
Q105 Chair: What you seem to be saying to the Committee is that you accept Peter Neyroud’s situation of a new body, but there is still a need for ACPO to be around in a different form in order to co-ordinate the views of the chief constables. Is that right? We start with one entity and we have ended up with two.
Sir Hugh Orde: That is progress, Chairman.
Q106 Chair: But it hardly unclutters the landscape, does it? I mean, the purpose of the new landscape of policing is to reduce the number of organisations, not to increase them, surely.
Sir Hugh Orde: I think the national policing landscape, frankly, at the moment, is confused. Mr Creedon has been doing a huge amount of work on the crime side, hence his presence here with me today, and we have been doing a huge amount behind the scenes to see what is deliverable around ACPO but allows us to develop all the actual business and best practice through a different model, yet have this decision-making body of whom, like it or not, chief constables remain operationally independent, which is a point reinforced by the Home Secretary only yesterday, and we need to make sure that they sign off for operation and delivery of national standards within their geography in the areas where that is appropriate. That is not to say it is for everything. We are very keen to declutter the ACPO policy, and Sara Thornton is doing a huge amount of work on that to create frameworks, not detail.
At the end of the day, in a 44-force model, or 43 in many of these issues-Northern Ireland is slightly different, as you know-we will need some way of getting sign-off to make sure that those standards, which could be developed through an institute, are agreed by all the chiefs.
Q107 Mark Reckless: You said that the chief constables are operationally independent, but isn’t there a distinction between the chief constable of a force having operational independence in that area and the way in which ACPO has tried to develop this, so something which you call the police service, as encapsulated in ACPO, somehow has this right to set national standards and impose or have an explain-and-comply regime for national policy, which should surely more properly be the province of elected politicians?
Sir Hugh Orde: I think Peter Neyroud made this similar observation around how much work you might want to do on behalf of policing. If you are making clear decisions on how we deploy, for example, against a serious multi-site terrorist attack, I would argue that the profession needs to come up with those standards. Of course, everybody up to and including the Prime Minister is very interested in that, and rightly so. Mick may want to make a comment on the crime side of the business, but this is the difficult territory. It is how you carve a business up without getting hugely complicated. At the end of the day, when decisions to deploy in the national good are made at the local level, it is the chief constable who is held, quite properly, to account by whatever method of independent accountability is in place at the time, be it this system or the new system.
Q108 Mark Reckless: I accept that politicians are not going to want to delve into the operational minutiae and details of vast numbers of different areas. However, would you be prepared to accept that where it is to be a national standard, and where there is going to be a requirement or a comply-and-explain regime that it is appropriate for a draft of that policy to go to politicians, whether it is to the Home Office and Ministers or whether to the elected police commissioners in some way, and for them to sign off on that policy? In most cases, I am sure they will be happy to defer to the operational advice of the chief constables, but where they had a particular issue, before it becomes national policy that everyone has to go along with, surely there should be some sort of political electoral mandate and sign-off on that.
Sir Hugh Orde: My personal observation is that that would be a step change of what we currently have. At the end of the day, I am not sure an individual politician would feel comfortable signing off on something that they then lose control of. The default position would be from a chief, "I was only implementing something that was someone else’s decision". The bottom line is the decision rests with the chief, and, of course, as you are fully aware, some chief officers may, on occasion, disagree with national policy, and say very clearly, "I am derogating from that national policy". Now I do think, in those circumstances, there are powers of mandation available currently to the Government to ensure compliance and to therefore gain consistency, and as the NPIA is dismantled, for want of a better description, where many of the bits of business are currently for the national good, which will be homeless, it will need to be delivered on a consistent framework with all forces signing up, because without all forces signing up it simply does not work.
Q109 Mark Reckless: The great conceptual problem, I think, we both face is that you say it will be a step change from where we are now, but where we are now, there is this great dichotomy between the reality of what happens-i.e. ACPO issues, all this guidance, and everyone just goes along with it-and the statutory position where there is no recognition for what ACPO is doing, in this sense. You refer in your evidence to our 1989 report as if somehow we approved the creation of all this. There was a suggestion the secretariat could be a bit expanded, but we then said, "Subject to the qualifications, parliamentary and public accountability", and we said, "All of the developments relating to ACPO", but then we said that needs to be accompanied by a fundamental examination of statutory responsibility and accountability of ACPO. I am saying that if you do want chief constables basically going along with what is decided centrally, rather than deciding things individually for themselves, we need a new structure where, if elected politicians do not approve of those national standards, they have an opportunity to say that and, where appropriate, determine whether those national standards are applicable. You can’t just have the new body determining this, the police themselves, without reference to elected politicians. Don’t you accept that?
Sir Hugh Orde: I think part of the debate was very much around whatever new governance arrangements there are in the new world that Peter talks about, and in fairness, some of his report is very detailed; some of it is less so. I think there is clearly a need for some transparent accountability framework above the national-
Q110 Mark Reckless: I apologise, Sir Hugh, I had to stop. I have to pop out momentarily. The Home Secretary said that the elected commissioners should be involved in this governance structure, yet Peter Neyroud has set out this board where the Home Secretary is going to have representation, but apparently he has spoken to the chief constables and you have decided that you don’t want the elected commissioners on that board. Surely that is not going to be acceptable.
Sir Hugh Orde: I think we should be very open, in all seriousness, about who is involved in the governance. It does strike me as slightly strange that we currently have an APA, which is of course a plc itself, and there is no legislation or no proposed legislation to create a body of police and crime commissioners in the same way, which we could use for those sorts of issues and have national conversations with. It does seem to be quite sensible and it may well happen. I think it is probably so important that there should be some expectation that will happen. I have no difficulty, personally, of having a proper, balanced accountability framework above the chartered institute that informs and helps it to develop.
Q111 Mark Reckless: Finally, with Sir Peter, we pointed out to him that the Home Secretary said ACPO needed to be rebalanced and would take on these professional standards roles, but we had understood it would be giving up various powers as part of its rebalancing, but Sir Peter did not address this, and when we asked him, he said he wasn’t able to address it because the report would have been far too long if he had listed all the areas where ACPO should cease to have a role. Could you assist us on that?
Sir Hugh Orde: Yes, and there are huge amounts of things we do because there is no one else to do them, so I think you have to make a basic decision: do you want one group of people, be it a band of volunteers, as I describe ACPO, or a new body taking on things like a serious crime analysis section, critical to keeping vulnerable people safe from serial offenders across the country? Do you want someone running the national leadership training? We do need some people to do all that sort of stuff.
I don’t see ACPO as growing. Some things will stop because, frankly, there is no money for them, and I think the really hard choices that have yet to be made within the NPIA are where it drops below the financial envelope they currently have as they manage down. Who takes on that business? If we transfer the costs to people like Mick Creedon and his colleagues, there is only one inevitable and utterly foreseeable conclusion to that: less cops and less staff. We recently asked him to take on the Police National Database funding, which was always funded by the NPIA.
Q112 Chair: Who are "they"?
Sir Hugh Orde: Sorry, chief officer colleagues. The 43 forces are now funding the Police National Database, or will be very shortly, from their own force budgets, because there is no money left.
Q113 Chair: This was done separately?
Sir Hugh Orde: It was done through the NPIA budget, which as you know took a very big hit to defend force budgets, so it was a trade-off here. The more that disappears from the NPIA, it either goes into the ether-and there is a risk to that, frankly-or it goes to the National Crime Agency-and we are not sure yet because we await the prospectus coming out sometime this month-or it is paid for.
If it is going to be paid for, it will need to be paid for collectively across the 43 forces. That is where mandation may well be a critical factor, because you cannot have a national crime analysis section that is only involving half the forces. You cannot have a DNA database that only involves half the forces. There are some very hard choices coming in the future, Chairman.
Chair: That is very helpful. Sir Hugh, I know you have a lot to say to us, but I need briefer answers from you and briefer questions from members of the Committee, because we have a busy agenda and there is a lot we want to get out of you, so I ask members of the Committee to be brief and witnesses to do the same.
Q114 Mr Winnick: Sir Hugh, in this inquiry into policing, I wonder if I could ask you, first of all, if you are concerned over the continuing controversy over the death of Ian Tomlinson?
Sir Hugh Orde: That is, in all fairness, a matter for the Commissioner. I think the basic principles, which go back to 1829, are that no police officer is above the law. It would be wrong of me to comment when I know that the Director of Public Prosecutions is actively reviewing the case. I think that is right, and of course there is some outstanding discipline. But the general principles, I think, which were simply reinforced by that awful and tragic case were that no police officer is above the law and, indeed, the matters in The Times yesterday show that not only are we intolerant of criminal behaviour, we will be intolerant of disciplinary behaviour.
Q115 Mr Winnick: If it is the position that police constables who were present at the demonstration at G20 told their superiors afterwards that they had seen one of their colleagues hitting out at who was later identified as Ian Tomlinson, and no action was taken, that would be a rather serious matter, would it not?
Sir Hugh Orde: Anything where something is as important-I am very conscious that I don’t want to get involved in the case. The principle is, of course, again referring to yesterday, that if an officer sees something that is wrong or should be reported, they have an obligation to report it. In terms of disclosure, the law is very clear on what is disclosure, what is relevant, what is unused material and, of course, we should comply fully with that particular, albeit complicated, piece of legislation, if it is related to the case.
Q116 Mr Winnick: Would it therefore be right, Sir Hugh, to say that ACPO, of which you are the leading figure, has some concern over what occurred and what is going to happen over the Ian Tomlinson affair?
Sir Hugh Orde: We are always concerned when something goes in the wrong direction.
Mr Winnick: It did go in the wrong direction, in this case.
Sir Hugh Orde: I am very mindful. I am not going to put myself in the position where I am seen to be interfering with what is a very clear legal process that is currently, as reported, under active consideration as declared by the Director of Public Prosecutions. In terms of standards, of course we strive for the highest standards, hence the reason for the letter yesterday in response to that very conversation. Yes, we set standards so they are complied with. We do not expect them to be broken; likewise, the law. If anyone has transgressed from that, they should be properly dealt with.
Q117 Mr Winnick: Thank you. On the new professional body that the Chair has asked you about, which will to a certain extent replace ACPO, what would you say to the point that what is being recommended is merely another ACPO, and what will be the difference between the present organisation and what is being suggested or proposed?
Sir Hugh Orde: I think the very clear difference is it is an inclusive organisation that requires the support and engagement of every officer and, indeed, under some effective measures, anyone who aspires to be an officer through his pre-entry qualification recommendation, so it is completely different. It would be a body of 145,000-plus people. It should include all people who are involved in policing, sworn and unsworn; otherwise, frankly, over time it will not work. Whether one can start off with that sort of great big event or we need to start building incrementally I think is a matter for debate.
Q118 Steve McCabe: I think it is fair to say that some of the functions that the professional body will have, according to Peter Neyroud’s report, are what the Government originally seemed to suggest ACPO would have in the "21st Century Policing" document, so we are going to end up now with two bodies as part of the rationalisation, I guess. Would it be possible to sketch out what you think the main functions of the new ACPO will be and its governance arrangement and where the money to support it is going to come from? Because I guess some of us are a bit confused that we have ended up with two bodies. I am not saying that is right or wrong, but it does seem a departure from the original Government thinking.
Sir Hugh Orde: I think the challenge was that the decision to get rid of the NPIA had a series of unintended consequences, one of which was the sheer scope of what is now in the NPIA having to be disaggregated, and I think the notion that you could have some body that would take some of that pressure out, if by some sort of chance the institute was seen as quite a welcome step forward. The critical things for me will be: one, I think it does symbolically recognise policing as a profession; two, it owns the standards, it sets the standards, it agrees what is authorised police practice and it makes sure that is kept to a minimum, not a maximum, and it takes on the leadership and training agenda. It also informs and is seen as a place of great knowledge where people who seek advice on policing can go to, as they would in any other institute, be it royal or otherwise.
With the funding I can’t help you, because I think the jury is out. There are very detailed costings in Peter’s report on what individuals would pay, and it certainly would be an individual contribution, be it serving or retired offices. But the hard facts are that the training stuff is currently funded through the NPIA. Their budgets are reducing dramatically, and I would not be interested in taking over something where we are not financially viable at the start, so we need to have a serious conversation with Government when we have a clearer vision on what it looks like and the breadth of it.
Q119 Steve McCabe: Just one last thing on that: I realise it is early days, but part of this was supposed to clear up the confusion. Is there a danger that the professional body and the new ACPO are going to be confused in what they do and in the way other people, including ourselves, see them?
Sir Hugh Orde: Mick may have his point of view on that vis-à-vis the operation end of it. I don’t think so. I think the reality is that the national policing landscape is extremely complicated. That is unsurprising. Policing is extremely complicated. It is how you bring that together in a way that the public recognise and understand you cannot deliver or keep people safe against the national and international threats through a purely local model. Someone has to grip it. At this minute, it is us. It is not through any choice; it is because someone has to do it. In the future, it will be slightly different. I don’t know if you want to comment.
Mick Creedon: I do. The structure we have is an historical structure, and it is a structure that we have already given evidence about. To define policing based upon 43 forces working independently is not what any of us would want. It would be ridiculous. From the view of the chief constables, and certainly on a personal basis, I need something that supports me in terms of developing guidance, best practice, best thinking; certainly the issues Hugh has mentioned about leadership are absolutely paramount to taking the force forward. I think there will not be confusion, but I can see why it could look like there is confusion. I think it will become clear, as we move forward, but right now, as Hugh mentioned, it is the huge complexity of policing and where things sit. What has happened, I think, is that we have put things in places by default.
Q120 Chair: Who is responsible for this complexity?
Mick Creedon: It is the complexity is what we do. It is law enforcement across 60 million people. That is why it is complex. The responsibility is-
Q121 Chair: Then take us through the issues rather than the structure.
Mick Creedon: The issues are: at times, we within ACPO and chief constables individually and collectively, have said, "There is a gap there; we need to do something about it" and we have created that. So we have gone and taken something that we perceive as a gap and we have tried to put something in place to deal with that. There are many examples of this.
Q122 Steve McCabe: I guess what is behind everything I am asking you is that I accept your point about things having been put in place by default. I am not at all clear by looking at the model that seems to be emerging how you are going to prevent that happening in the future.
Mick Creedon: I think there is a twin trap. I think there is something around National Crime Agency, which maybe we will talk about in a bit, where we can use that as a start to begin that repository, that ownership and so on, and then the other side is the work from Peter and others saying, "Actually, you know what? We can start bringing things together". This is how NPIA developed. That was the thinking about NPIA, and the recognition is now how complex that is. So I think we can do that. We can do that, but there needs to be, without being silly, an absolute inventory of what it is we do, what it is we need to get hold of it and where it needs to sit. Then I think those complex issues about governance and about democratic accountability can all be taken account of.
Q123 Dr Huppert: Before I ask about the new landscape of policing, can I just get an update on the current landscape of policing? We had some discussions in the past where I think many of us were surprised that ACPO was running all the domestic extremist units, back to NPOIU, NDET and so forth, and I think last we checked you were talking to get approval from chief constables as to whether you could transfer them elsewhere. What is the current position on that?
Sir Hugh Orde: We were waiting for agreement by the Met Police Authority that they would take it on board. They have. It has transferred, so it is now under the Metropolitan Police governance arrangements.
Q124 Dr Huppert: I think, Sir Hugh, you said on 7 February at a conference Liberty organised that you thought there should be judicial oversight of future operations. Is anything happening about that?
Sir Hugh Orde: No, that is what I think. At the moment there is no development on that at all. The point I was making, I think, post the very well-publicised use of undercover in public order situations, was that it is clearly something of public concern. In my view, in my judgement, there was a value in putting it into some more transparent arrangements; that is, you give someone else an opportunity to challenge our thinking before they deploy that, certainly around issues of proportionality, but there is no development of it, no.
Q125 Dr Huppert: Two more quick questions, if I may, Chair. The first was just to check something you said earlier, and I think I scribbled it down correctly. About funding, you said you don’t want to be taking over something where the funding is unclear. Now, you had previously said to Mr Reckless that you were not taking over the new professional body. Did you mean to say that ACPO would be taking over the professional body with unclear funding, or did you mean something else?
Sir Hugh Orde: No, the recommendations from Peter are that a chief constable should lead it, although it should be supported by the other institutions. I am absolutely open to that sort of view. I think first it has to be clear that the chief constables, rather like in the military, lead the organisation. That is what we are paid to do, so I would be surprised if it was not that sort of structure. So it was just trying to take the debate forward. I think the Home Secretary will be looking to us to advise on issues such as funding, although of course we would consult widely with our colleagues from the other associations, and we are slightly different as leaders of the service, I think.
Q126 Dr Huppert: But "we" as chief constables in general rather than ACPO taking over the body?
Sir Hugh Orde: Yes, I do not want to get hung up on names because it gets a bit complicated. All ACPO is, as you know, is 300-or-so senior leaders of the service that happen to come together under that particular badge. Peter’s report is very clear. It needs to be an inclusive institute or it does not work, and it will be led by the leaders of the service.
Q127 Dr Huppert: How should policy be developed? What role would the new professional body or the new ACPO have in either advising on policy, developing policy, implementing policy, writing policy, insisting on policy? Where on that spectrum is it right for either of those bodies to sit, and where is it for democratically accountable bodies?
Sir Hugh Orde: In terms of developing operational practice, currently, as you know, it is done through the business area structure within ACPO, and Mick is very involved in the crime side, and it might be useful if he gives you an illustration of how it works and how it might work. But the sense is that much of that work-learning, understanding, getting best practice, consulting widely and speaking to all the people who would want to have a say in how we do our business-I would see as quite properly falling to the institute.
That is not to say it would be done in some opaque way with no one else having an influence. I think that would be a flawed assumption. But it then goes back to the original and very first points made by the Chairman or as I made in the opening: how do you think get that signed off? So, having done all that work, the chief constable of Lower Muddleshire says that is what he or she will deliver against; likewise, the chief of some other force. But Mick can probably talk in more detail.
Mick Creedon: Yes, I will keep it brief. Within the crime area, I think there two high risk areas: homicide, and kidnap and extortion. Homicide is after the event; kidnap and extortion is a live event, when someone’s life is at risk. Around that, we have developed really detailed practice, developed by practitioners but actually then signed off through the process which Hugh has explained previously.
That I think is one of the questions-Mr Reckless, I am not sure whether he is talking about that-in terms of the role of democratic people against the role of professionals. Without that policy being developed, we will be at risk. I know Peter mentioned in evidence the RIPA and the inquiries of the 1980s, and I think the important bit is we need to have something that will still develop that practice, which is led by professionals, and the sign-off by the 43 chiefs is the important bit for me, that 43 chiefs buy into this. You would expect, I would hope, that when we respond to these critical instances, which are many, we are doing it in the very best way and it is not some kind of free-for-all where people keep their fingers crossed.
Q128 Dr Huppert: What I have not heard mentioned is the Police Authority’s role or the commissioner’s role in the new version, if we get there. Surely they have a role as well in terms of working out what it is that ought to be delivered in their area.
Mick Creedon: The way I see it, as a serving chief now with an authority and future commissioner, is that they are there to hold me to account for how I do it, and what I do. All 17 members of my authority would not want to interfere in the operational side. They would want to know that there are national standards and national guidance that I am taking into account, and that I am responding locally in sometimes quite a changing, dynamic way. For them to say, "You know what? We would like oversight of your kidnap policy" would be fairly extreme, I would say, and we would have to question what my role is as the operational lead and what their role is as either a political or independent member.
Q129 Alun Michael: I am just reflecting on a couple of things that have just been said. Sir Hugh referred to judicial oversight. Our judicial system does not have judges managing inquiries. That is something that happens elsewhere, so they do not have the skills. Where would judicial oversight come in? I don’t understand.
Sir Hugh Orde: This is a bespoke bit of business. Take a current, very topical example around terrorism. If you need to detain someone for a longer period than the current Emergency Provisions Act, over 14 days, you need Parliament to reconvene and then you would need a judge to sign off to agree, and you then apply to a judge. In certain areas of policing we apply outside bits; surveillance commissioners, for example. It is that sort of issue. It is around: do we take the tactic somewhere else? We want to do something. We want to be challenged on whether it is proportionate, reasonable and whether it fits the criteria.
Q130 Alun Michael: "Application to" and "having to be signed off" are very different from oversight.
Sir Hugh Orde: That was the intent. That was what I was-
Q131 Alun Michael: That was what you were talking about. That is helpful. I just want to pick up on the second comment that you made. You said, "Whether the new professional body is developed through incremental change, a process of transition is an open question". Surely it cannot be done like that, can it? If it is going to be the professional body involving and responsible for the professional standards of all officers at every level, it cannot be initially established by chief officers alone, so it cannot be incremental, can it?
Sir Hugh Orde: I think it could be. It depended on how you worded the charter and how quickly you thought you could bring everybody on board. Success for me is that everyone signs up because they want to be a part of this body because it is the right thing to do and indeed to be able to practice.
Q132 Alun Michael: Sure, but to take two groups, you would need from the beginning superintendents to be involved; you would need from the beginning commissioners to be involved. It could not just be left to the current ACPO membership, could it?
Sir Hugh Orde: The point I was making is that I am open-minded about how it comes into being. It is a huge step change, and sometimes huge step changes can be delivered more effectively through an incremental process rather than a-
Q133 Alun Michael: I can see that would look nice from the point of view of those involved in the current organisation, but it is not on, is it?
Sir Hugh Orde: Well, let’s wait and see. The point is that I am entirely open to that debate, but what I want, and what we all want, is a successful structure. That is one of the biggest step changes in policing in Peter’s report.
Q134 Alun Michael: I am just making the point that if you look at most bodies responsible for professional standards, it is not just the top managers who are responsible for those decisions. In the evidence that we had from the Metropolitan Police, we heard that ACPO is continuing to debate which NPIA function should stop in the new landscape and which should remain but perhaps be charged for, and you referred to that discussion today. What conclusions has ACPO reached so far as to what ACPO would like to see in relation to continuation and charging?
Sir Hugh Orde: First of all, I don’t think anything we do is done for no particular reason. All of it is important and it is very hard, and certainly, having attended the last party conferences of all three major parties for two years, when I ask that question, "What would you like to do less of?" no one could give me an answer-
Alun Michael: I am asking you this time.
Sir Hugh Orde: There are some things that cannot stop, and those are non-negotiable-the Police National Database and the Police National Computer. The major things that are critical to maintaining the safety of people in this country will have to stay and will have to be funded. They are what we call the non-negotiables. There is a big debate to be had around, for example, training: how much training is done nationally, how much is simply we maintain as standard, and it is a matter for forces.
Where the risk comes, frankly, is if you are not contributing and not training sufficient people-which is why the Strategic Policing Requirement is critical to this-to deal with the new face of public order, the new threats around terrorism and the new levels of standard for senior investigating officers, we will come unstuck fairly quickly. There are some things that are better delivered nationally, to national standards, with some obligation of forces to deliver, and that is where potentially a rub may come with the police and crime commissioners who are more the local folks. That is why we need that clarity.
Q135 Alun Michael: I think that is quite helpful, and probably there is a lot of detail that is not appropriate to go into now, but do you have effectively a list of ACPO’s initial thoughts of which things should continue as charged for, and is that something you could share with the Committee?
Mick Creedon: That work is now being done. All 43 forces are going through a piece of work, and I am sure Nick Gargan will be able to give you more detail, which is essentially asking that very question.
Q136 Chair: I think if you write to us with that information, it would be very helpful. You must be quite pleased, Sir Hugh and Mr Creedon, that there is a pause now in Government circles about police and crime commissioners following what the Deputy Prime Minister has said. Do you think that this breathing space will allow people to flesh out the details more carefully?
Sir Hugh Orde: You have the advantage on me, Chair, and I am not sure what the Deputy Prime Minister has said, if it is today.
Q137 Chair: It was over the last week. I think the Liberal Democrats have been part of-
Sir Hugh Orde: Sorry, the pilot; you are talking about the notion of a pilot being brought?
Sir Hugh Orde: It doesn’t seem to be a huge pause from where I am, and of course the Committee stage starts very shortly. As we have always said-and it is helpful that you ask the question, so I can reiterate it-the issue of police accountability, how we are held to account, is absolutely a matter for Government, and this Government has a very clear mandate to deliver a different structure. What we are determined to achieve, and must achieve if this is all to work, is absolute clarity on the issues that the Strategic Policing Requirement and the protocol will bring to the respective roles, and a point was made, again, as I said to the Home Secretary yesterday, "Police and crime commissioners will bring real public accountability to policing". He goes on to say, "But they will in no way affect the operational independence of police". It is that distinction. Then, with the SPR giving clarity on what is national and what must be protected, I think this becomes a debate for us with the clarity issue.
Q138 Chair: But the issue of a pilot now seems quite attractive. We are now in May. By the time this Bill gets Royal Assent, if it goes through unamended, we will be talking about July. Obviously individuals in political parties do not have their candidates in place. The idea of a pilot, given what you have been saying about the new landscape being a little confused and people not knowing where things are going, is probably a good idea, isn’t it?
Sir Hugh Orde: I think it is a matter for Government, frankly, Chairman, and the issue has become confused, partly because of function of speed; you have things being dismantled, you have agencies being created but we are yet to see what it looks like. That is not of our making. What we will do is, as ever, we will get on with it as we see it currently and do our best to keep people safe in the current structures.
Q139 Chair: The state of the protocol negotiations, which this Committee of course recommended originally. We felt it was not proper to proceed unless things were written down. How are we doing on that?
Sir Hugh Orde: And I thought that was my idea. I think it is very helpful. I had an extremely constructive meeting with the Policing Minister last Friday-
Chair: I think we called it a Magna Carta. You may have called it a protocol.
Sir Hugh Orde: I had a very good meeting with Nick Herbert on Friday. He has met with the Deputy Commissioner and Adrian Lee, Chief Constable Northamptonshire yesterday. We have raised a number of issues with the protocol. It has ebbed and flowed, frankly. It is still in a live document.
Q140 Chair: Is it piece of paper with somebody’s thoughts on it or are they having been on sandwiches?
Sir Hugh Orde: There are six pages of paper currently as drafted. It is still a draft. It is still under negotiation, and I sincerely hope we can reach an agreement. There are some things that people I represent will-without being emotive about it-die in a ditch over, because they are determined to make sure that their role is clear and the Police and Crime Commissioner’s role is clear, and that includes, if I am to sum it up, the ability to run the business and then be held to account.
Q141 Chair: We understand that. We just want to know the process. We are very keen on this, because the protocol is going to be central to everyone’s understanding of the new landscape as far as the Police and Crime Commissioner is concerned. There is a six-page document that emanated from the Home Office that is going backwards and forwards between ACPO and the Home Office. Is anyone else involved in this?
Sir Hugh Orde: I am sure they are. All I am saying is the Government has, without question, consulted fully with us and is continuing to listen. It has been a feature of the current leadership in the Home Office. They have met with my Chief Officers frequently and we have those conversations. Of course, what happens after that is their business not ours, but we have made our points and we will continue to make points until we feel they have been properly listened to and reflected in a document.
Q142 Chair: Do you know if there is a timetable?
Sir Hugh Orde: I am told it should be out in time for the first Bill Committee Day, which I think is tomorrow.
Q143 Chair: So by tomorrow-
Sir Hugh Orde: That is what I think. I may be wrong, but I am told there must be something because they cannot debate something that is not there, can they? So it seems to me.
Q144 Chair: Absolutely. You believe that by the time the Bill reaches the Lords for debate, there will be a protocol agreement?
Sir Hugh Orde: I think that is my sense. I think it will be a draft to be debated by the Lords, I suspect, but that is again a matter for Government. The point is I am pretty clear that the Minister, unless I misheard him, was determined to get something out, and this Strategic Policing Requirement is not in that advanced stage yet, and we have said very clearly that we think they need to be ready together. We cannot agree anything unless we have seen the whole picture, because both of those documents are absolutely critical if we are going to keep people safe.
Q145 Chair: So there are two documents?
Sir Hugh Orde: The Strategic Policing Requirements and-
Q146 Chair: How many pages is that?
Sir Hugh Orde: I haven’t seen a recent draft.
Q147 Chair: I think we better to write to the Minister and ask him, because if the Lords are going to discuss it, I am sure the Home Affairs Select Committee would be interested.
Let me turn almost finally to the issue of procurement. I am very interested in the roles that are currently being undertaken on procurement, and the Committee is looking at procurement next week when we have our evidence sessions. What is ACPO’s role in procurement at the moment?
Sir Hugh Orde: I am delighted that you have, I am told, all the experts from NPIA giving evidence: Mr Gargan and-
Q148 Chair: Yes, but what do you all do at the moment on procurement? Can you all recommend what kinds of cars people are going to have, or radios? What do you all do at the moment as far as this is concerned?
Sir Hugh Orde: Mick’s at the front end of this. I think there have been huge advances in saving money through national procurement frameworks, and I think that is more work to be done, but I have only recently been speaking to Nick Gargan. He will tell you, ad nauseam, when he comes, about the new procurement system known as Zanzibar, which creates an internal market to make sure we can get the price for individual products. National procurement is in. As I understand it now, the Home Office is going to lead on non-IT procurement. We await Lord Wasserman’s view on what happens to IT. It is work in progress, Chairman, but I think it is going in the right direction.
Q149 Chair: Before we go off to Zanzibar, let us pause for a minute and ask why it has taken this Government to get the police and ACPO to look seriously at the issue of procurement. Why have the police not done this before?
Mick Creedon: I am not sure that is the case. I am really not sure that is the case. I mean, we work hugely within national frameworks, which are exactly that. You mention vehicles. Unless there is a particular reason, which is very unusual, we all buy from within framework agreements that give huge discounts. We are all now negotiating collectively and individually to drive that existing contract. The world of IT is probably the worst example, and I would not claim to be an expert, but that is partly because of the way legacy systems have developed on a piecemeal basis. But I wouldn’t say that this Government has suddenly put a step change in place that has changed our view to procurements. We have been driving out huge savings year on year, absolutely.
Q150 Chair: This is happening at the moment, what you are saying?
Mick Creedon: Happening at the moment, yes.
Q151 Chair: How much more savings can you get by better procurement?
Mick Creedon: There are two sides. There is always better procurement, and that is part of the work, and I do not know much about Zanzibar other than the work in progress. For example, in my own region there are four forces now collectively looking at driving down local contracts, which are actually very successful. I think the danger, for me, is assuming the world is going to be fixed by national procurement. It will be right in some areas. In some areas it is right, and if you talk to business heads, as I have, they do far better by devolved local procurement, so I think we need a mix and max that makes the best sense of this.
Q152 Chair: In the new landscape, what will be the role for ACPO, or the new ACPO, as far as procurement is concerned?
Sir Hugh Orde: The Home Office will lead on procurement, frankly. It is an appalling phrase: the laminate model is what Mick has described where there are some that must be bought nationally on national frameworks, but there is a huge danger in creating a small number of monopolies, and some stuff is without question done better at a regional local basis. It is making sure we get the right bits in the right area, and I am sure the Home Office will do their best to achieve that.
Q153 Alun Michael: They might do their best, but the track record of Government Departments in procurement does not fill you with optimism, does it?
Sir Hugh Orde: As an example, this was done by the NPIA. The NPIA is not going to exist. It has to go somewhere, and that is where it has been decided it will go. It is not our decision. I can’t think, frankly, where else you would put it unless you have some completely outsourced procurement arrangement. Of course, I think some of the biggest savings on procurement will be simply forces not procuring stuff, because, in an effort to drive down costs, they are just cutting what they are buying.
Q154 Alun Michael: The point that I am making is that surely, looking at this, in effect, nationalising procurement and taking it inside a central Government Department cannot fill you with enthusiasm and optimism, can it?
Sir Hugh Orde: I am permanently optimistic, but it may well be. I don’t know-
Q155 Alun Michael: Is that well-founded optimism, do you think?
Sir Hugh Orde: Not necessarily, no. I am sure you will be taking evidence from members of the Home Office, and they may be in a better position to give you reassurance about how they are going to do it differently. I think you are right. Historically there is no great history of successful procurement, but we are in a difficult place, because it has to go somewhere. The rules are extremely complicated. Indeed, one of the pleas from every business that makes a path to my door is, "Can you please free up the arrangement so we don’t have these huge processes". Of course, you can’t, because there are European codes around this stuff for the big ticket items. That is their big frustration, but that is a matter of fact, Michael, so that is where it is going.
Q156 Chair: This is an issue, of course, we will have to return to. What is the procurement part of the police budget?
Sir Hugh Orde: About £300 million.
Q157 Chair: It is not a huge amount. It is a lot, but not in terms of the overall budget.
Sir Hugh Orde: We would say you are not going to drive 20% savings out of the procurement. I would agree. I think we have had a bit of a bad press on how much work is being done, and people have been engaged and you will hear from them next week, so I won’t steal their thunder. I am quite proud of some of the things they have achieved. That is not to say you can’t go further.
Q158 Dr Huppert: Just on that, my experience-I spent an evening with Cambridgeshire Constabulary some time ago, following around-was that the big problem with IT procurement, in particular, was that the lack of good IT facilities took up a huge amount of time. It was not so much the cost of buying the equipment; it was the fact that in this particular case it took about an hour and a half to download a video from a head-mounted camera, during which time that team of officers couldn’t do anything else. What is going to happen about the future of IT procurement? Are you keen to see a GovCo set up that will look after that and transform the whole sector? What do you do about your legacy? What is your vision for the future of IT within the police service?
Sir Hugh Orde: It is, frankly, a bit of a mess. I think everyone would accept that. It had an unhappy start. I think there was a lot of progress made when it was taken into the NPIA. I think the Police National Database is a step change improvement following on from Bichard, and is now rolling out as we speak, so that is a bit of a success story.
My sense is that what we will see over time is convergence, and I do think that is the right way forward. We are not going to get a big bang on IT as it is simply too expensive, but operationally, Mick may well know.
Mick Creedon: I agree. The real problem, and I think we are all aware of it, is the development over 20 years-plus when the national strategy and what was going to be the panacea for the service didn’t deliver, and forces then began to develop, in many cases, far better local systems. You mention this, and we have this problem. We are working on outdated systems, which are, for operation officers, hugely frustrating. In my own force, just because of bandwidth problems and because of geography, what we would all know is click and it works; you click and you go away and make a cup of tea and come back and it is still loading. That is the framework we are in. It is a very difficult one.
If there was a vision, I think convergence of the critical systems is an absolute must, because there are always bespoke one-offs that are going to be different. The other bit has to be a network that is fit for purpose, but to do that would be a huge investment.
Chair: Mr Reckless has returned.
Q159 Mark Reckless: Could I ask whether either of you might consider Project Athena as potentially the platform for national IT integration going forward?
Sir Hugh Orde: I know there is a huge amount of work going on in the eastern region on Athena and wider. There are also other groups of forces coming together, so we need to look at all of that. Indeed, I think we are all awaiting Lord Wasserman’s report to see what his overall findings are in relation to the best way forward. It certainly is something that is right at the front of people’s minds because it is seen to be-and I know Lord Wasserman is very impressed by what he has seen on Athena.
Q160 Mark Reckless: If it was decided that rather than going to the Home Office or going to the NCA, and we want perhaps a specific sort of public private entity to be pushing it on a national level, do you think that could perhaps develop from Athena as the largest of those rather than necessarily establishing something from scratch?
Sir Hugh Orde: I don’t think we will be establishing anything from scratch. It may well be one of the ways forward, but it needs a broader view. The trick, it seems to me, is that we have to get everyone to agree on one national delivery system and then converge towards it as their budgets allow them to do so. I have to say, certainly with some chiefs, in terms of budgets, it may take some time for convergence to get anywhere close to something that we see as universal. It is going to be difficult.
Q161 Chair: Can you just update the Committee on the transfer from ACPO to the Met of the Domestic Extremist Units, which you talked to the Committee about in the past: the NECTU, the NPOIU and the NDET, whatever all that stands for? You presumably know.
Sir Hugh Orde: They have all transferred, Chairman.
Chair: They have gone?
Sir Hugh Orde: They have gone. As I said, they have gone to-the Met Police Authority has agreed. In fact, that has been a piece of work that had been going on for some time. Whatever we end up looking like in the new world, the operational bits should not be part of what is a largely administrative structure about proper and transparent oversight.
Q162 Chair: They have gone; there is nothing there?
Sir Hugh Orde: No, and they will now be held to account through the NPIA governance arrangements.
Q163 Chair: Looking at the transition timetable, NPIA is going to be phased out in 2012, and the National Crime Agency, as far as we are aware, is going to be up and running in 2013. What is going to happen in between?
Mick Creedon: This is one for the key issues. Part of the work we are doing within ACPO and, likewise the Home Office and others, is looking at the policing landscape around organised crime, what it is that is put in the NPIA and where that is going to transfer to. There is stuff within the NPIA that, in our view, needs to go with NCA. There is stuff that ACPO is leading that should go within the NCA likewise, so we are very keen to have that transition, but, at the moment, the timelines don’t match up.
Q164 Chair: So you would like a little delay, would you, to make sure it is done properly?
Mick Creedon: We face an issue that there are absolutely critical services provided by the NPIA that, at the moment, have a date that is going to drop off, with nowhere to go. There may be a transition that can be thought of, and I can think of a few ideas, but the truth is, the NCA is such a plank for the future policing landscape. I would be very keen to give any evidence in the future around this. It is such an important plank that we need to make sure that it is built for the future right.
Q165 Chair: You are giving evidence now. What further information do you want to give us?
Mick Creedon: I am concerned we will only have a short window of time. It is such an important bit for us around the organised crime landscape. I think, in terms of NPIA functions, we know, whether they are learning and development infrastructure support or operational support, there are key bits that they deliver for us, and if they do not have a place to go, that is a gap.
Q166 Chair: You know they are going. You know these organisations are going but you do not know where some of the functions are going to end up.
Mick Creedon: No, and in fact I have a meeting back at the Home Office after this. Part of that is working with the NCA project team to flag this very problem up.
Q167 Chair: This seems most unsatisfactory.
Mick Creedon: It is a gap, absolutely.
Q168 Chair: Have the Government and Ministers called together all the various parts of the proposed new landscape and had a discussion about this?
Mick Creedon: There is a very senior project leader in the Home Office who, as I say, I am going to meet after this. He is new in the post. The previous incumbent has retired.
Q169 Chair: What is his name?
Mick Creedon: Gareth Hills.
Q170 Chair: What is his function?
Mick Creedon: He is the director who is looking after the NCA project team, working for Stephen Rimmer. I will be meeting him, and it is about the whole future of the NCA: how it will look, what it will do and what functionality will be in there, but precisely some of these aspects which, as I say, could drop into the ether. There are critical bits. Some are legislation that needs to carry on; for example, all the work that is done around process of crime. We have a network of financial investigators who have to be accredited. It is legislation, and the process of crime co-ordination centre sits within the NPIA providing accreditation, continuous professional development, leadership and so on. That has to have somewhere to go in the interim, while it should then go absolutely into the NCA.
Q171 Chair: And there is still this gap of a year between abolition and the phoenix arising of the NCA?
Mick Creedon: There is.
Q172 Chair: We do not know where things are going to go, which is obviously unsatisfactory and serious.
Mick Creedon: Clearly, for the NPIA, it provides a problem of logistics in terms of staff staying in post when they have potentially no job.
Q173 Chair: Mr Creedon, you started your career as a PC in Leicestershire, I understand.
Mick Creedon: I did indeed.
Q174 Chair: To the ordinary PC looking at what is going on in the landscape of policing-all these structures and all these changes that are going to take place-what is morale like at that level? Obviously it is some time since you have been a PC, but you see them every day. They must be rather confused about what is going on.
Mick Creedon: I think the job of leadership sometimes is to protect those who do it from this complexity, so as far as I am concerned, the PCs who deliver that service need to know the simple things about their job and the core bits we ask them to do.
This landscape, to be honest, I don’t want them to know too much about. Not in the sense of hiding it from them, but, as you say, it is so complex that if they started to think these things through, they would forget their core job, which is protecting vulnerable people and locking in criminals. It is a difficult world, but I think our leadership challenge is to make that world as simple as possible and to make sure those who do the job can do it unfettered by some of these complexities.
Chair: Mr Creedon, we may well call you back because this is, as they say, an ongoing story, but thank you very much for coming today. Can I call to the dais the chairman of SOCA?
Witnesses: Sir Ian Andrews, Chair, Serious Organised Crime Agency, and Trevor Pearce, Interim Director General, Serious Organised Crime Agency, gave evidence.
Q175 Chair: Sir Ian, Mr Pearce, my apologies for keeping you waiting. We were so fascinated by the evidence of Sir Hugh Orde, as you would imagine, that we got a bit carried away, but thank you for waiting, and I am most grateful to both of you for coming.
Sir Ian, it must be a disappointment to you, having been appointed by the previous Government as a chairman for a full term and having been told by the previous Government what a good job SOCA was doing, to have your entire organisation being disbanded.
Sir Ian Andrews: That is absolutely not the way I see it, as I hope was very clear from the written evidence that we put into your Committee. We see this as a huge step forward. The Green Paper, "Policing in the 21st Century", made it very clear that what the NCA would enable to be done was the more effective tasking and co-ordination of a multi-agency response across the highest priority targets, and across the whole of the law enforcement waterfront.
It was accepted, I think, and indeed explicit in the legislation that set SOCA up in 2006 that there was an expectation-nay, a requirement-that we should work with domestic and overseas partners, but the same obligation was not placed on other partners, so there was a sense inevitably of a sort of coalition of the willing, and I think, if I may just complete that point, what is different about the National Crime Agency is that it will explicitly have the leadership requirement, the tasking and co-ordination, but also, for the first time, it will be underpinned by an Organised Crime Strategy and a Strategic Policing Requirement, which will provide that national oversight, which, frankly, we have lacked in the past.
Q176 Chair: Sir Ian, I am delighted that you are such a fan of an organisation that does not exist, and an organisation where, as we have just heard from the President of ACPO, they are not clear what is going to go into this organisation. You told previous Committees, and your predecessors have told previous Committees, what a good job SOCA was doing. Whenever there were criticisms about the amount of, for example, drugs that had been seized compared with the £500 million budget that you receive from the Government, you kept saying, "We just need more time". What has changed?
Sir Ian Andrews: I am not resigning in any way from what I said before, and indeed, the more I have seen of SOCA over the last two years, the more impressed I have been by how much has been achieved, and the international reputation certainly is second to none. There is a real impact on criminal perceptions, and I think it is a huge credit to all those who were involved in the early stages of SOCA that the Government has recognised that it wants to build on the capabilities that SOCA has developed and take them into the National Crime Agency, and I think that is a vote of confidence in everything that has gone before.
But, as I said, one of the frustrating things is that there is a sense of a Coalition of the Willing, and there is a perception that there is an opportunity here to provide that national prioritisation and drive. Of course, the other thing with the National Crime Agency is that it will do far more than just organised crime. I am very clear that I am working on the basis of what was in the July White Paper last year. That is the vision that was laid out there, and that is what I am going to be looking at.
Q177 Chair: It is always good to discuss visions. Mr Pearce, remind me what has happened to your predecessor. Why are you still the Interim Director General?
Trevor Pearce: I am indeed, yes. We are waiting to see what decision is to be made on that one, currently afforded by the Home Secretary-
Q178 Chair: What happened to the Director General?
Trevor Pearce: He retired in September of last year.
Q179 Chair: In terms of staffing, how many members of staff have now left SOCA?
Trevor Pearce: We started with about 4,400 and we are now at about 3,800, including the last 12 months that we have had the restrictions on recruitment, otherwise we would have been able, I think, to have brought more staff in.
Q180 Chair: What has been happening to the fight against organised crime? At the moment, if you are about to be abolished, if you have now lost 400 members of staff, if you cannot recruit more people, the serious and organised criminals-of which there are many, and this Committee has seen many in our evidence sessions and on our visits, especially to Turkey most recently-must be rubbing their hands with glee. While all this is going on, all these meetings at the Home Office and all this discussion of vision, goodness me, the criminals must be having a field day.
Trevor Pearce: I don’t think they are, and I will perhaps come on to how we know about that. The first point is that the Serious Organised Crime Agency will exist for at least two and a half or three years, until the legislation changes. It is our absolute conviction that we will carry on with our duties and responsibilities in that time. At this very moment we have 3,800 officers who are engaged in that fight against organised crime.
Q181 Chair: So the answer is that the Government is right; you had too many people working for you in the first place and the budget was too high, because if you are saying to this Committee you can undertake exactly the same work as you did a year ago, with 400 fewer members of staff, and with a complete freeze on recruitment, and with, I would imagine, every single employee now wondering what is going to happen to their jobs, whether they are going to go to the new NCA or not, surely that is not a satisfactory answer.
Trevor Pearce: Firstly, the number of 4,400 was in 2006. The next issue is that we have been encouraged to be more efficient. As we develop new approaches-certainly going forward there will be some very interesting approaches, such as how we provide the coverage around the broader set of identified organised criminals-actually, our efficiency goes up. We are able, through appropriate things like shared services about new technology and so on, to take a different approach. We cannot work from the model that we started in 2006 because, by necessity, we need to move on, and that was an old model.
I think this is the opportunity that the NCA does provide. It is a much broader organisation that covers purely organised crime.
Q182 Chair: Indeed. Just remind me for the purpose of the record: you have given us the figures for last year. How many illegal drugs have been seized in the past six months?
Trevor Pearce: I can give you last year’s figures, if that helps.
Chair: Year ending which year?
Trevor Pearce: The last financial year. There were UK seizures of 645 kg of cocaine".
Q183 Chair: Value?
Trevor Pearce: Well, it is dependent upon street value, but we have seen prices of £40,000 a kilo.
Chair: What is the total?
Trevor Pearce: About £2 billion, by my calculation, off the top of my head. We can provide you more detailed costings around these, because I don’t have that exact information, but I am happy to put that as a further written submission.
Q184 Chair: Sorry, you have seized drugs in the last financial year worth £2.6 billion?
Trevor Pearce: If I have my figures right, and if I-
Q185 Chair: I don’t think you have.
Trevor Pearce: In which case, 645 kg multiplied by £40,000, if someone has a calculator, within the UK.
Q186 Chair: Mr Pearce, you must have known that I was going to ask you this question, because it is the same question I asked your predecessor. I think coming here asking for calculator before a Select Committee is not satisfactory, and I don’t think it is £2.6 billion.
Trevor Pearce: I will do the calculations perhaps when Sir Ian picks up the next bit.
Chair: Dr Huppert, who is an expert, tell us-
Dr Huppert: I make it £26 million, Chair.
Trevor Pearce: My apologies.
Chair: There is a big difference between £26 million and £2.6 billion, isn’t there?
Trevor Pearce: I apologise for getting that calculation wrong in the-
Chair: Not satisfactory, Mr Pearce, before a Select Committee.
Trevor Pearce: Thank you, sir, I note your comment, and I will make sure I am better prepared next time.
There were 65 tonnes of cocaine seized abroad, principally in South America and the Atlantic, 325 kg of opiates in the UK and 27.4 tonnes of opiates abroad.
Q187 Chair: So out of a budget that the Government has given you over the last few years for each year of £500 million, you have seized £26 million in terms of drugs. Is that right?
Sir Ian Andrews: Chairman, I don’t think that was the answer that was given. It is very difficult-
Q188 Chair: What is it, then?
Sir Ian Andrews: It is very difficult putting a specific value on tonnage of drugs, because does one look at the retail value at the border, or does one look at the street value? We have also been very effective-
Q189 Chair: I am sorry to interrupt you. This has happened before in this Select Committee, when your predecessor and the predecessor Director went through this same explanation. It is not satisfactory, as we said in our Select Committee report. We need proper figures so we know what is happening. This is taxpayers’ money and we are a parliamentary Committee. Would you please let me have the proper figures by noon tomorrow?
Sir Ian Andrews: Yes, Chairman, of course we will.
Q190 Dr Huppert: Before we started getting involved with this, I made a mistake with SOCA, and I thought it was the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, and it was not until I went a few weeks ago to the NPIA, which was a fascinating trip in a number of ways, that I realised the importance of the fact that "and" is not there. You look at "serious organised crime", you do not look at "serious crime". My concern about the future National Crime Agency is that everything I can see here about what it will do will be about organised crime and not about serious crime. I do not see who is picking up the serious crime: the co-ordination of murders, rapes and all those things that happen; random serial killers who are not organised. Who looks after serious disorganised crime in the new model?
Trevor Pearce: To be honest, it is a police function. Certainly there are clear practical procedures for dealing with linked and series crimes-linked and "series", as opposed to "serious" crime-murders, rapes, and so on, which are clearly set out, and the role of the NPIA, as they might have told you, particularly around the serious crime analysis section, is about how you provide some work around modus operandi to make the necessary linking factors to enable those investigations to take place. Traditionally, the proactive organised crime agencies have not had a significant role in the investigation of serious crime as you describe-murders, rapes, and so on-save where there has been a need for a range of specialist support. That is either in terms of technical surveillance or other capabilities that are available.
I would imagine, not knowing what the final plan is, that the collaboration between forces, where there are clear links and series events, will take place. We know that the Strategic Policing Requirement is currently being discussed and will come forward. That places the responsibility, I think, for Police and Crime Commissioners with their chief constables to consider how that linkage takes place.
Q191 Dr Huppert: For example, the NPIA, as you probably know, has a rather gruesome database of images of all sorts of injuries caused by all sorts of weapons. That is clearly something that you would not want to replicate in every single constabulary. It wouldn’t necessarily be part of SOCA or the NCA. Where would something like that sit so that that specialist advice or forensic anthropology and all those other forensic techniques can be accessed somehow for serious crime that is not organised?
Trevor Pearce: Clearly, a place will need to be found for that, whether that is within the NCA architecture, or whether it is within the proposals of ACPO taking on more responsibilities, but I take your point. The value of that is immense in serious and major crime investigations.
Sir Ian Andrews: I think, if I may add to that, Dr Huppert, in the Green Paper last year, there was reference to the functions currently within the NPIA, but very clearly the National Crime Agency was intended to be an operational crime-fighting organisation, and it was made clear in that White Paper that there were issues about those functions, and we would be very careful to avoid distracting the leadership of the National Crime Agency from their primary task. That clearly needs to be a factor, but those decisions are, if I may suggest, for the Home Office and for Ministers.
Q192 Dr Huppert: You would not welcome them in the NCA?
Sir Ian Andrews: I think that in terms of the implications, there are some aspects of what goes on in the NPIA that might find a role in the NCA. I think a lot of it would be better not within the NCA because it conflicts with that role of operational crime fighting.
Q193 Alun Michael: As I take a slightly different view on this to Dr Huppert, perhaps I can put it the other way: would you be concerned if the clarity of the emphasis on organised crime, and therefore the threat to infrastructure rather than just the seriousness of the offence, were to be a changed emphasis?
Trevor Pearce: I think it is absolutely vital we maintain a focus on organised crime. As the Green Paper sets out, clearly the organised crime command is one element of it. I think it is how within that architecture you can place something that brings together, if there are, a range of other operational support functions that are of value, and I think the key issue here is that they are best delivered nationally as opposed to locally or regionally. I think that has to be done on a case-by-case basis according to the capability.
Sir Ian Andrews: I think Mr Michael makes a very important point here, because I think what is also new is the machinery of the National Security Council, which has, in my view quite properly, put organised crime in its proper place in the national agenda, and indeed recognised it as a Tier 2 threat to the United Kingdom. It is absolutely the response to that recognition within the National Security Council that the NCA is being put forward, as I understand it from the White Paper, as part of the response to that serious threat.
Q194 Alun Michael: Thank you. Coming back to the question of the way in which the new body will operate, one of the things you have said is that national tasking and co-ordination will bring greater coherence and provide reassurance over the reaching coverage of law enforcement efforts against organised crime. Can you explain what you mean by "national tasking and co-ordination" in that context?
Trevor Pearce: I do not think the model has been fully described, but I think there has to be a way in which you can identify the key threats and priorities and how you then ensure that those are dealt with, either on a national, local or regional basis: this whole concept of a cross-development thread of locally to internationally.
Q195 Alun Michael: Would it be fair to say, then, that you are not saying that will automatically be the case, but that you believe that the way in which the new body is set up needs to deliver that sort of-
Trevor Pearce: It needs to deliver that. Sir Ian was talking about the Coalition of the Willing in terms of the United Kingdom threat assessment control strategy, which is something we try to do in SOCA in order to engage the various parties. The Home Office took responsibility for that in 2009, but it is still this Coalition of the Willing.
I think there needs to be a distinction about what tasking should be at this level. It is not about saying, "Those three police officers from that force should go work in that force for x number of days". I think it is picking up on the key threats and the key thematic issues to make sure we have a consistent response.
Q196 Alun Michael: I think that is the reason for asking this question, because if there is going to be an improvement in the national tasking and co-ordination, that will only happen, won’t it, if the new body is established in the right way and there is clarity about both the tasking and the co-ordination? Have you, as an organisation, set out what you believe ought to be the model for the new organisation, and is that something you could share with us?
Trevor Pearce: We have not contributed in absolute detail for this. I think this is the second order, which is going to be worked through with officials in due course. But, as I say, I think this has to be around the key themes and the key threats, and making sure we have a considered response using the right sources. Because, if we are focusing on the organised crime area, then of course the response is not just about SOCA or the police. There is a broader set of Government departments, local agencies, et cetera, particularly crime and disorder partnerships, or community safety partnerships now, which need to be engaged in this. I think the important thing is making sure that this is cross-governmental and cross-agency, because that is the way the response should take place.
Alun Michael: I am sure that is the case, but what we have heard in your answer is that it is not necessarily written in at this stage, and I think perhaps what, if the chairman is willing, we might ask is: could you set out for us your views about how national tasking and co-ordination ought to be arranged in the new body? Because as the committee responsible for scrutinising the way this is done, it would be very useful to us.
Q197 Chair: We will set you a slightly longer deadline than noon tomorrow for that one.
Sir Ian Andrew s: We did, of course, touch on that in our written evidence, which you already have, so it is an expansion on that. Could I just pick up on that, because I think the Green Paper made very clear that the NCA would build on the capabilities of SOCA. It is very tempting to think of that very much just in the dimension of policing, but as the DG said, there is a huge range of partners, not just across law enforcement and intelligence, but in the private sector, the wider public sector, the third sector, regulators, and domestically and internationally. And domestically, not just within England and Wales, but across the United Kingdom as well, and by implication, the NCA will take on that wider role. That is why it is so important that it is seen in the context of the national security infrastructure, because for the first time we will have the machinery to target our efforts in the most effective way.
Alun Michael: That is why this more detailed response would be very welcome.
Q198 Steve McCabe: Gentlemen, you welcomed, in your written evidence, the creation of the NCA, and you said that it would ensure more law enforcement activity takes place against more organised criminals at reduced cost. Where is the saving?
Sir Ian Andrew s: I will ask Mr Pearce to address the detailed aspects of that, but I think, again, the White Paper flagged up something we have developed in SOCA called the high volume operating model. Within organised crime, we have identified, at the last assessment, some 9,000 individuals, all of whom are covered by SOCA programmes of work. That is part of at least 38,000 individuals known to be involved in organised crime targeted on the United Kingdom. We will have the opportunity, when NCA is in place, to share that data set more widely and to have an effective way of prioritising a tiered approach to the right people at the right time.
Of course, it will also go way beyond organised crime, as we have said, and therefore just the ability to get a coherent law enforcement response to a range of activities in which organised crime groups in particular-they don’t specialise in one commodity. They will specialise in whatever area of crime they happen to think offers the least risk and best return at a particular time. What we are also able to do is to deliver the enabling infrastructure for the National Crime Agency in a much more effective way, because it can be developed in stovepipes or it can be developed as a single platform. Trevor Pearce, I know, would like to talk about that.
Trevor Pearce: I would like to pick that up. I think the intention is to make sure there is coverage for the 38,000 who have been identified across the UK-there are some Scottish numbers in this as well-9,000 of whom are the responsibility of SOCA that we have identified, and we shall be working against them. We would not previously have been able to have the coverage. What we have been able to do through the intelligence analysis is to make sure that we have a range of practices. That is from a multi-agency, multi-intervention approach to particular groups, which is costly, and we do not have the resources to tackle all in that regard, through to single approaches through coverage, which enables us to encourage and lever up other action. An example: we were not able to put evidence of conspiracy around the importation of controlled drugs, even in our major cities. However, knowing that the businesses of the individual involved were used as an enabler, working with the Fire Service, Health and Safety, local councils in terms of environmental health, and the UKBA, we were able to go in to deal with illegal working and to close down the businesses that supported that criminal organisation. That is a much cheaper response than carrying on a long-term proactive investigation. It enables us to put our resources to other targets, but it has an effect, and I think that is the important thing. We can now extend that effect.
Q199 Steve McCabe: Would it be right to say that the structure of your existing organisation has made it difficult to move against these 38,000, but now we are going to see far more activity at lower cost, because you have different structures? Is that right? Is that what you are telling me?
Trevor Pearce: What has happened over the last five years is, all relevant partners-that is, in terms of ACPO and other national agencies-have gone through this exercise of identifying and mapping the 38,000. We, having invested in new technology, now have the ability to look across that in a way that we have not done previously, very intuitively, and to segment it in the market. The developments which have taken place over the last five years have put us in a position whereby we can move forward with some new approaches and to ensure that we have coverage against all of those who have been identified as posing these key threats.
Q200 Mark Reckless: Sir Ian, I wonder if you could tell us a little bit about the governance structure of SOCA, and in particular how your role of Chairman and that of your board work in overseeing their work?
Sir Ian Andrew s: Yes, by all means. Indeed, we covered that also in our written evidence. I am very clear, as I recall describing to the previous Committee when we last met, I think, Mr Chairman, that the Director General is operationally accountable for everything that goes on within SOCA, but SOCA as a body corporate is the board, and as the Chairman of the board I am responsible to the Home Secretary for overseeing and holding the executive to account against the priorities that she has specified; on behalf of the board, developing a strategic plan and a response to that; and then reporting to her, and through her to Parliament-and indeed, this is part of that process-on the performance of the organisation.
Indeed, following my last appearance here under the previous Committee, we instituted the regular six-monthly reporting letter to explain the activities that we are involved in. But that is not the only aspect of governance. The Serious Organised Crime and Police Act, which enabled SOCA to be formed, was very clear about requirements on us to publish a plan before the beginning of the year and to publish an annual report on our activities after the end of the year, and also, we are subject to the full range of oversights of the various investigatory powers tribunals, independent judicial commissioners, HMIC and so on. Also, of course, every day in the courts, SOCA officers are having their performance tested by juries, by judges and by the cross-section of society, so I am very comfortable with the totality of that oversight mechanism.
Q201 Mark Reckless: I will come back to just slightly focus your answer on the changes in governance where we are seeing the movement from the Police Authority to the elected commissioners. I wonder, perhaps, how you characterise your current role compared to that exercised by a Police Authority, and whether, with the move to the NCA, it might be appropriate for the elected commissioners to have some involvement, perhaps through a representative on the board of the NCA, or something similar. Have you any thoughts on that?
Sir Ian Andrew s: I am sure that the issue of the appropriate governance for the NCA will be something that Ministers will work through, and quite rightly, something which I would expect Parliament to take a significant interest in.
Q202 Mark Reckless: Do you have a view?
Sir Ian Andrew s: I think that it is only fair to say there are a number of models that one could use for the governance of a future National Crime Agency, and I can see various options. I can see pros and cons for all of them. As I say, I think this is absolutely something which, quite properly, I would expect the Home Office to take a view on, because this is putting in place an organisation that, if it operates in the way that SOCA has, will be working in accordance with the priorities set by the Home Secretary and against the background of a landscape that includes the Strategic Policing Requirements and an Organised Crime Strategy. All of these things are in gestation and are in the process of being brought through. Whatever is put in place clearly will have to satisfy scrutiny in Parliament.
Q203 Dr Huppert: Can I just ask about the relationship with local police forces? We have heard from the Association of Police Authority Chief Executives that this will be quite important. I’m not sure SOCA has a great reputation for having built those relationships with all the local police forces, but I don’t really want to focus too much on the past. What should the NCA do to try to work with all of those police forces to foster a really good working relationship?
Trevor Pearce: I obviously understand your remit is within England and Wales, and, of course, we have 52 police forces within the UK and SOCA, and I presume that the NCA will follow with a UK-wide remit, so we have to look at the different structures in the two other jurisdictions.
The whole nature, as you say, is changing, and the relationship through the Strategic Policing Requirements with chief constables and police commissioners clearly needs to be understood and engaged in. I think the importance of the Organised Crime Strategy, which we are expecting in June to set a framework for those engagements, is again vital, because in 2006 we did not have an Organised Crime Strategy that brought together or brought the commitment from a range of partners in this. Fundamentally, that is there. This is about making the join between local policing and indeed the national, with the regional complexities, which sit in the middle. So we will have to, as the NCA will have to, I am sure, have a clear engagement with local policing engaged through some mechanism. Exactly how that sits within a governance structure is different, but I think the nature of the relationships with the NCA will be very complex, because if we take the potential components that may fall in it, there are many cross departments. The notion of having to use a range of different partners, both in the public and private sector, regulatory and non-regulatory, and then the international dimension, means that there are a challenging amount of relationships, but clearly, a key one is with territorial policing across the UK.
Q204 Dr Huppert: Do you have any thoughts at all as to how that might be done? You have had a few years of experience of some approaches, which haven’t always been successful. What would you suggest?
Trevor Pearce: There has to be a forum through which I think the explanation takes place. In the previous world of a National Crime Squad and a National Criminal Intelligence Service, the Police Authorities had some representation on the service authorities, so there was some engagement. I think we need to understand this, as I say, in the context of the SPR as well as the emerging relationships. But as we have done, and the Chairman has said, I think, within the last six months with the association, the Police Authorities conference, that we need to explain what the national requirements are and what the national benefits are to enable that join-up to take place, because clearly these problems are not solved in isolation in any one dimension.
Q205 Dr Huppert: Are you suggesting that Police and Crime Commissioners, again, when they happen, should play a leading role in governance of the NCA? What would your link be?
Trevor Pearce: This is clearly to be worked through, and this is a matter for officials to advise Ministers on. There needs to be an understanding at both levels of the capabilities and the responsibilities of the various partners. As I said, the Strategic Policing Requirement will set out those, as I understand it, at a high level across a range of national responsibilities, which, locally, have to be taken account of. I think that is one of the challenges that will fall out of the tasking regime: how do you make that engagement?
Q206 Chair: What about counter-terrorism? Do you think that that would sit easily in the National Crime Agency?
Sir Ian Andrew s: Again, going back to last July’s White Paper, there was a recognition that at some point in the future, counter-terrorism might be an appropriate fit. I think that is something which should be played long. Personally, I would be-
Q207 Chair: So you do not think it should be?
Sir Ian Andrew s: I don’t think I have a view, other than that the White Paper very clearly said that it is something that needs to be addressed.
Q208 Chair: We are inviting you to have a view, rather than repeat what is in the White Paper, from the point of view of what SOCA thinks. You will not get into trouble, I assure you, when giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House. Do you think that counter-terrorism should be put in the National Crime Agency that will be established in 2013 or not?
Sir Ian Andrew s: In the early stages, in the short term, I don’t think it should be, no.
Q209 Chair: So you agree with Sir Paul? Do you agree with the Commissioner?
Sir Ian Andrew s: At the right time in the future, the question should be asked. But we need to make sure-
Q210 Chair: The Commissioner said it should not be in there. He thinks it should be handled by the Met. Do you agree with him or not?
Sir Ian Andrew s: You need to make sure that the National Crime Agency is developed, and I think it is being developed without counter-terrorism. If at some point in the future, way beyond the Olympics, that was to be an issue, that would be the right time to address it.
Q211 Chair: On establishment, do you think it would be not the right thing to do to put counter-terrorism within the National Crime Agency?
Sir Ian Andrew s: It would have serious implications for both for counter-terrorism and for the National Crime Agency.
Q212 Chair: That is very helpful. What about your views on CEOP? Where do you think CEOP should go? I think that one of the concerns is that a number of SOCA officers have left SOCA and are now working for CEOP. Is that right? Do you know how many of your officers have transferred?
Trevor Pearce: Other than the secondees to CEOP, all the CEOP permanent staff are SOCA officers.
Q213 Chair: Right. Do you have a view as to where CEOP should go?
Trevor Pearce: Clearly, a decision has been made that Ministers have decided upon. I know you have had Peter Davis before your Committee before. I think, in terms of the six factors that were set out as how you maintain an identity for CEOP and how it works within the national structure, that is an appropriate way forward. We have supported CEOP over the last five years in terms of its infrastructure.
Q214 Chair: So you have no concerns that some of the very special identity of CEOP and the expertise that it has developed over the last few years might be submerged within a National Crime Agency that is going to be a very big organisation indeed?
Trevor Pearce: I think, in terms of the assurance of those six points-and that assurance has been given-CEOP can operate effectively, having its unique identity. Its specialism was getting, as it does now, value from the specialist, technical, covert and other infrastructure resources from SOCA.
Sir Ian Andrew s: And supported by the National Crime Agency infrastructure in a way that it simply could not be supported if it was on its own.
Q215 Chair: You have given us some very clear written evidence. What would be very helpful, as Mr Michael has indicated, is if you could just give us a synopsis of your current functions and where those functions will go as far as the new landscape is concerned. Or are you telling this Committee that every one of the functions of SOCA sits quite happily within the new NCA?
Sir Ian Andrew s: My understanding is that what is now SOCA will be at the heart of the organised crime command, which will be part of the NCA. Everything which SOCA does now, therefore, will be part of the NCA as long as it remains appropriate in the future.
Q216 Chair: It is not like the NPIA, where some of those functions will stop, and we do not know as yet where they are going to go? The whole lot of SOCA, we are basically just changing its name?
Sir Ian Andrew s: No, because the NCA is fundamentally different from SOCA. It is a larger organisation. It operates in a different environment because there is an Organised Crime Strategy and a Strategic Policing Requirement, and at the head of the NCA, you will have the authority to task national law enforcement assets in terms of prioritisation against targets.
Q217 Chair: Can I, in conclusion, thank you for giving evidence, and we will be most grateful to receive both those notes, the one on the seizures and the other one that Mr Michael asked for?
Mr Winnick: The information by Wednesday.
Chair: Yes. Can I also, on behalf of the Committee, ask you to pass on our thanks to your operational staff. We have just come back from a visit to Turkey, and I think we all want to place on record our appreciation to your field officers for the excellent work that they do. Whatever happens concerning structure is a separate matter. SOCA does a superb job in terms of its international work, and this Committee would not like to see that excellent work in any way put at risk. We found the SOCA officers that we visited-and we will be going shortly to look at the situation on the Greek-Turkish border-to be of the highest quality, and they work in co-operation with so many other areas. You are quite right, Mr Pearce. They are actually a model for other organisations, which is why we are a little bit worried. Having become a poster boy for other countries, SOCA is now going to be submerged into the NCA. But we will have to wait and see what happens.
Sir Ian Andrew s: Mr Chairman, can I say, thank you for that, and we will certainly pass those remarks on. Trevor Pearce and I have travelled separately in the last month. In your case in Afghanistan; in my case in South America, but also, across the whole of the United Kingdom, every day SOCA officers are working their socks off to deliver what we are all trying to do, whether it is internationally, nationally, regionally or locally, and it is that golden thread of policing and law enforcement that has to be protected.
Chair: Indeed. Thank you very much for coming today. I am most grateful. That concludes this session.
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