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
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"which
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,
and the Chief Officer of Police to decide that the property shall
be destroyed or otherwise disposed of.
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
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
18 Regulation 6(1). Back
Regulation 3. Back
Regulation 7. Back
Regulation 8. Back