Select Committee on Home Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Supplementary memorandum submitted by the National Crime Squad

  Following on from the response provided by those giving evidence on behalf of the Association of Police Authorities when questioned whether they felt that anything was missing from the Police Reform Bill, we would respectfully request that the Committee considers this addendum to the submissions of the National Crime Squad.

  As we have already outlined, our position within the law enforcement community is unique both in terms of operational remit and constitutional framework. The latter causes us particular problems when attempting to make use of legislation which has been drafted to cover police forces. Our construction prevents us from making use of such legislation, which logically should be of equal applicability to the NCS, unless specific provision is made in the statute. This is not so problematic for new legislation as any omissions can be rectified during the consultative process. However, Acts drafted prior to the creation of the NCS in April 1998 can present difficulties.

  One such piece of legislation is the Police (Property) Act 1897 as amended by the Police (Property) Act 1997, the details of which are set out in the Police (Property) Regulations 1997. Regulation 6 provides that following the expiration of one year if there has been no court order in respect of the property, or six months if an order has been made under s.43 of the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973, property in the possession of the police may be sold. The difficulty for the NCS is that the statute is not clear as to whether we have the power to dispose of property. The Regulations state that the property may be sold, without specifying by whom, and it could therefore be argued that this would allow the NCS to sell property. However, the Regulations go on to state that the proceeds of any sale, ". . . shall be paid to the relevant authority"[18]which is defined[19] as being either a police authority within the meaning of the Police Act 1996 or the Metropolitan Police Authority. The Police Act 1996 makes it quite clear that the Service Authority for the NCS is not a police authority. This would seem to question our ability to dispose of property as we see fit.

  The same problem applies to the Regulations which allow the "relevant authority" to retain the property for police purposes[20], and the Chief Officer of Police to decide that the property shall be destroyed or otherwise disposed of.[21] Once again we are not covered by these provisions, the cumulative effect of which is a stockpile of property, particularly vehicles, with which we can do nothing.

  In addition, an NCS officer is prevented from making an application to the magistrates' court under Section 1 of the 1897 Act for a bench to make an order in respect of the property as an application can only be made ". . . either by an officer of police or a claimant of the property". An officer seconded to the NCS would not appear to be "an officer of police" for the purposes of this Act for the following reasons. Section 97(3) of the Police Act 1996 states that an officer seconded to the NCS shall be treated as if he were not a member of his home police force during his service with the NCS. Secondly, Schedule 9 of the Police Act 1997 specifically amends the definition of "officer of police" in the Explosives Act 1875 to include an NCS officer but there is no similar amendment of the definition in the 1897 Act.

  Therefore, we would request that the Police (Property) Act 1897 be amended as follows:

  1.  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".

  2.  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) (cb) of the Police Act 1996 (subject, of course, to any amendments rendered necessary by the proposals for direct recruitment in Clause 65 of the Bill).

  3.  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.

The National Crime Squad

March 2002

18   Regulation 6(1). Back

19   Regulation 3. Back

20   Regulation 7. Back

21   Regulation 8. Back

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