Select Committee on Home Affairs Second Report



74.  In the course of our inquiry, our attention has been drawn to other measures which could be included in the Bill.


75.  The White Paper, Policing a New Century: A Blueprint for Reform, envisaged the private sector making a greater financial contribution to the cost of policing entertainment events: "city centre entertainment venues can effectively require expensive police presence out of all proportion to the contribution they pay".[83] The examples we have been given are large night clubs which empty early in the morning at weekends and major football matches. Another example is policing the race meetings at Ascot, which costs Thames Valley Police £352,825 of which £217,307 was recovered from the organisers in 2001. The current arrangements are governed by Home Office circular 34/2000. The Bill itself does not contain provision for police forces to recover the cost of policing outside the venue itself. We have been told:

    "The cost to the Metropolitan Police of policing football matches and other commercial events is considerable—even with the charges currently made to organisations. For example, low-grade games at Chelsea FC cost the [police] £13,705 with the contribution from the Club standing at only £397. We would like to see the legislation and Home Office guidance changed to allow for the recovery of the costs for all the resources which are planned for deployment at an event held for profit".[84]

    "[by] football and night clubs paying extra towards the additional policing costs they cause, the private sector should be encouraged to face up to its responsibilities".[85]

76.  The Minister explained that working out a scheme to cover the cost of policing a town centre on a Friday night was complex and that policing outside football matches involved wider considerations than just the responsibilities of the clubs concerned.[86] We are conscious that the ability of clubs to pay for additional policing costs may well be unrelated to the differing demands their matches put on policing in the vicinity. Such recovery of costs might bankrupt smaller clubs. The taxpayer bears the full policing cost in a town centre on a Friday night of a large number of people emerging from a profit-making night club. On the other hand such businesses do pay the council tax which includes policing. It may prove difficult to estimate what share of such policing costs are directly attributable to the activity of the club. The actual costs of policing outside such events depends on the level of policing decided on by the police not the clubs.

77.  We believe that the difficulties involved in recovery of policing costs from nightclubs and football clubs are unlikely to be resolved in this Bill but the Home Office circular 34/2000 on this subject should be reviewed.


78.  Public Concern at Work has argued for the Bill to be amended by bringing police officers within the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.[87] In the Lords, the Government said they were satisfied with existing procedures for protecting police officers who wished to report wrong-doing, but were prepared to reconsider this before report stage.[88] In oral evidence to this Committee, the Minister said that the Government plans to bring forward amendments to include police officers within the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.[89] John Wadham of Liberty told the Committee:

    "I think some of the difficulties with the police in the past have been that sensible, reasonable, honest police officers have not felt able to report malpractice to their employers and to others and that anything which encourages honest police officers to do a better job and to expose malpractice must be a good thing. I think that Act should apply to police the police clear rights to whistleblow under the Act would be much more sensible than having processes which just work on an internal basis. I think it would send the right message to honest police officers that they can expose corruption".[90]

79.  We recommend that the Bill be amended to bring police officers within the Public Disclosure at Work Act 1998.


80.  The Association of Police Authorities wrote to the Home Office five months ago prior to the fire at Yarl's Wood detention centre—asking for repeal of the Riot (Damages) Act 1886.[91] The Act makes police authorities liable for damages to buildings and their contents if a riot occurs under the Public Order Act—even if there has been no negligence of default by the police. The Government has said that this being reviewed, following riots in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley in 2001.[92] The Minister told us:

    "the broad issue of whether an Act which is well over 100 years old is still appropriate has been raised. I honestly cannot say to you whether any conclusions will be reached about that in the timetable of the Bill and the issues are quite complex".[93]

81.  The Riot Damages Act 1886 seems arcane and a good case has been made for repealing it. Without prejudice to any existing cases, the Government should seek to repeal the Riot Damages Act 1886.


82.  There are wide variations between police forces in the percentage of retirements which are on medical grounds—between 9 and 63%—down from 59% of all retirements in 1990 to 31% in 2000-01.[94] We have heard conflicting evidence on this from the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police and the Police Federation:

    "No-one can actually leave the Police Service without a medical pension unless the doctor gives the medical opinion that that is the right course of action; it is not a decision that is made by myself, as the Commissioner, it is a medical decision that is made".[95]

    "A certificate of ill health is not binding on the chief officer. In actual fact, the way the regulations are written, it is the police authority that makes the decision. The police authority has a good deal of discretion in making that decision".[96]

83.  We have been assured by the Association of Police Authorities that the issues of sickness and medical retirement are now being tackled.[97] We understand that one of the factors is that some forces expect all officers to be fully fit for public order duties such as riot training and that anyone who is not is, therefore, eligible for medical retirement. Equally the expanded use of civilians in the past has meant that there are fewer jobs available for police officers who are no longer fully fit for duties on the beat.[98] The White Paper says:

    "Police employment regulations are a bar to efficient and effective policing, and unresponsive to changing needs and pressures....The Government has asked the Police Negotiating Board to explore and agree ways of reforming the pay has also been asked to explore...a fair and consistent approach to early retirement due to ill health".[99]

84.  The Metropolitan Police Service has suggested a number of improvements in the arrangements for medical retirements and injury awards. We appreciate that these do not require primary legislation, but would like to see a clear intention that the Home Office plans to deal with these issues within the police reform process. These issues are:

  •   chief constables and police authorities should be empowered to refuse medical retirements when an officer is still fit enough to fulfil some if not all the duties of a constable
  •   injuries occurred while travelling to and from work should be disqualified from eligibility for injury awards
  •   assessment procedures for injury awards should be able to take into account employment information as well as medical advice
  •   injury awards should not be paid beyond the normal retirement age
  •   chief constables and police authorities should be able to reduce deferred pensions in relation to officers who are required to resign for disciplinary offences but subsequently obtain medical certificates that they are unfit for work on psychiatric grounds.

85.  The Minister has told us that the Government intends to amend the Police Pension Regulations to underline the fact that a police authority has the discretion to require an officer who has been certified as permanently disabled to continue in service.[100]

86.  We recommend that the Government either bring forward amendments to the Bill to improve the arrangements for medical retirements or publish draft delegated legislation on this subject before the Bill receives Royal Assent.


87.  The Bill contains a number of provisions which extend to the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service: measures which apply to ordinary police forces and amendments have been made in the Lords to overcome anomalies in police legislation. The National Crime Squad has drawn our attention to a further difficulty with the Police (Property) Acts 1897 and 1997, which did not anticipate the creation of the Squad.[101] We welcome the opportunity being taken to update police legislation to include the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service and recommend that further amendments be made to the Bill in respect of police property. The proposals from the National Crime Squad are:

  •   The definition of "relevant authority" in Section 2 (2B) of the 1897 Act and in Regulation 3 of the 1997 Regulations should have added to it the words, "in relation to the National Crime Squad, the National Crime Squad Service Authority".
  •   Section 1 of the 1897 Act should specify that for the purposes of that Section "officer of police" includes a person engaged on temporary service with the National Crime Squad under Section 97 (1) of the Police Act 1996.
  •   Regulation 3 of the 1997 Regulations should include a definition of "Chief Officer of Police" and state that in relation to the National Crime Squad this means the Director General.

88.  We recommend that the legislation on police property be amended to take into account the creation of the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service.

83   Cm 5326, para 2.32. Back

84   Metropolitan Police response to White Paper, p. 5 (not printed)Back

85   Police Federation briefing on White Paper, para. 107 (not printed)Back

86   Q619-21 (John Denham). Back

87   Ev 126. Back

88   Lords Hansard, 5 March, cols 218-9 (Lord Bassam). Back

89   Q. 624 (John Denham). Back

90   Q. 348-9. Back

91   Q. 470 (Dr Henig). Back

92   Lords Hansard, 12 March, col. 804-5 (Lord Rooker) . Back

93   Q. 628 (John Denham). Back

94   White Paper, p. 116 citing HMIC annual report. Back

95   Q. 108, 5 February 2002 (Sir John Stevens). Back

96   Q. 253 (Clint Elliott). Back

97   QQ. 492-5. Back

98   Q. 254 (Clint Elliott). Back

99   White Paper, Cm. 5326, p. 7. Back

100   Ev 165. Back

101   Ev 159. Back

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