Memorandum submitted by the National Policing
Improvement Agency (NPIA)
1. The National Policing Improvement Agency
(NPIA) was established by the Police and Justice Act 2006 and
is a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB) which reports to the
Home Secretary. The Agency is owned and governed through the tripartite
NPIA Board which includes representatives of the Association of
Chief Police Officers (ACPO), Association of Police Authorities
(APA), the Metropolitan Police Service and the Home Office.
2. NPIA vested on 1 April 2007. It is sponsored
and funded by the Home Office, but its executive leadership is
drawn from the Police Service. NPIA replaced the Police Information
Technology Organisation (PITO) and the Central Police Training
and Development Authority (Centrex) taking over responsibility
for all their functions. It has also taken over policy and/or
operational responsibility for some activities for which the Home
Office was previously responsible, as well as a number of national
projects working directly to ACPO.
3. The NPIA is a policing organisation which
will support forces in improving the way they work across a range
of policing activities and policy areas for policing in England
and Wales. It will act as a central resource to ACPO and police
forces, working closely with Police Authorities and the Home Office
to help improve the way policing works. The NPIA's approach to
improvement is centred on ensuring that people, process and technology
change is managed coherently and forces provided with support
and expertise to assist the implementation of national programmes
4. NPIA's mission is to support the police
service in reducing crime, maintaining order, bringing criminals
to justice and protecting and reassuring the public by providing
expertise in areas as diverse as information and communications
technology, support to information and intelligence sharing, core
police processes, managing change and recruiting, developing and
5. The NPIA operates within a strategic
framework shaped by the National Policing Board, on which the
Agency is represented. Preserving the integrity and probity of
these relationships is fundamental to the mission. NPIA aims to
be both an enabler of development within the policing community
as well as the developer of links beyond policing. These links
will support the adoption of proven ideas from research and policing
(including internationally). For the Police Service at a national
level, NPIA's role is to be the delivery agency.
6. This Memorandum sets out the key areas
of NPIA's work considered to be of most relevance to the Committee's
Terms of Reference. In order to support the police service in
reducing crime, maintaining order, bringing criminals to justice
and protecting and reassuring the public, the NPIA will improve
the way in which the service exploits information and intelligence
so that it is used efficiently and effectively across policing
and the wider criminal justice system. The NPIA will manage such
data in accordance with relevant legislation (including the Data
Protection Act 1998 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000) and
established policies and guidelines on data management and data
sharing (supporting the Transformational Government agenda).
7. NPIA's PNC Services is the service provider
of the PNC, ViSOR (Violent or Sexual Offenders Register), NFLMS
(National Firearms Licensing Systems) and shortly NABIS (National
Ballistics Information System). ViSOR and NFLMS are accessed directly
by forces/ enforcement agencies, and this will also apply to NABIS,
but they are also linked directly to the PNC via an electronic
8. NPIA's Data Centre is based in North
London. A Disaster Recovery Site is provided within 20 miles and
is used operationally to support PNC's 24 hour availability throughout
the year. Both sites meet or exceed current security requirements.
9. The PNC came into existence in 1974 and
has continually evolved since then. It comprises of four main
Names (the nominal details) of which
there are over 8.6 million. Of these, approximately six million
have a criminal conviction and two million are either CJ Arrestees
(ie arrested after the 2003 Criminal Justice Act such that the
record of the arrest is held but no charges were brought) or,
more recently, with the introduction of the National Firearms
Licensing Management System (NFLMS) there will also be Firearms
Certificate Holders. The PNC is used to make that information
readily available and shared across all Police Forces.
Drivers, 51 million, where the PNC
holds a copy of all driver information held by DVLA, again to
make it readily accessible to all Police Forces.
Vehicles, 57.5 million where PNC
holds a copy of all vehicle information for police purposes which
is supplemented by operational information eg vehicles of interest
Property, 96,000, where lost property
that has a unique serial number is held on PNC so that the information
can be shared across all Police Forces.
10. The use of PNC is controlled by three
A statutory code of practice, The
Police National Computer, effective from 1 January 2005.
PNC Code of Connection.
11. Access to PNC is available to all Police
Forces of England, Wales and Scotland, together with the Police
Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). In addition it is accessed
by a number of other authorised Agencies for specific purposes
relating to law enforcement. Such access is controlled by ACPO's
PNC Information Access Panel (PIAP).
12. The NPIA Board recently approved the
creation of a new tripartite governance body, the Police National
Database Operational Committee, to have overall responsibility
for strategy and governance of Information Management in respect
of the police national databases that are supported by NPIA's
PNC Services. The terms of reference for the Committee provide
clear accountability and responsibility for a single governing
body to oversee these national databases. The Committee will have
an Ethics group with independent members.
NATIONAL DNA DATABASE
13. The National DNA Database (NDNAD) is
a key intelligence tool which has revolutionised the way the police
can protect the public through identifying offenders and securing
more convictions. The benefits of the NDNAD lie not only in detecting
the guilty but in eliminating the innocent from inquiries, focusing
the direction of inquiries resulting in savings in police time
and in building public confidence that elusive offenders may be
detected and brought to justice. Inclusion on the DNA Database
does not signify a criminal record and there is no personal cost
or material disadvantage to the individual simply by being on
14. The NDNAD Strategy Board provides governance
and oversight of the operation of the NDNAD. Similar to the new
Police National Database Operational Committee mentioned above
(paragraph 12), it has tripartite governance involving ACPO, APA
and the NPIA. The Strategy Board is chaired by the ACPO lead on
15. The NPIA in conjunction with ACPO and
the Home Office is responsible for policy on DNA and for assisting
the police service in using it in the most effective and efficient
way. The Agency also has responsibility for the delivery of National
DNA Database (NDNAD) services and has a key role in maintaining
and ensuring the integrity of the data entered and the use of
the data in the investigation of crime. The NPIA understands there
are improvements to be made in the management and delivery of
the NDNAD and are working with the police to improve the processes.
These include the reduction of duplicate entries on the database
through the national roll-out of Livescana system of automatic
fingerprinting terminals in every Police Force's custody unit.
Another key development is the use of consent forms when taking
samples from volunteers and witnesses for elimination purposes
and the subsequent use of the data.
16. The Police and Criminal Evidence Act
(PACE)1984, which sets out the rules under which DNA information
can be collected is currently being reviewed by the Home Office.
This review is designed to ensure that the law is fair, and that
it maintains the crucial balance between the usefulness of evidence
in police investigations, and the protection of individuals' rights.
Proposals will be put out for consultation in Spring 2008.
17. The IMPACT Programme, launched as part
of the Government's response to the Bichard Inquiry and which
is being led by NPIA, is helping to make communities safer by
improving the ability of the Police Service to manage and share
operational information to prevent and detect crime more efficiently.
In doing so, it is delivering seven of the 31 Recommendations
made by Sir Michael Bichard following his Independent Inquiry
into the events surrounding the Soham murders.
18. The Programme is introducing new technologies,
and helping the Service to implement the necessary business change,
to exploit the benefits of improved quality and access to information
across previously restrictive geographic and organisational boundaries.
19. The Programme has already delivered
the IMPACT Nominal Index (which enables investigating officers
in one force quickly to identify the existence of information
relating to an individual (suspect) which may be held in a database
by another police force in one of their key force databases).
This has been rolled out to all UK forces and a number of key
enforcement agencies. The Programme will ultimately deliver a
Police National Database (PND); a single source of detailed information
relating to people, objects (cars etc), locations and events that
will link data currently held on local systems with that held
on national systems such as the Police National Computer (PNC)
and will address Recommendations 1 and 4 of the Bichard Inquiry.
20. The IMPACT Programme is also helping
the Police Service to implement the requirements of the statutory
Code of Practice on the Management of Police Information (MoPI)
and the accompanying ACPO operational guidance.
21. The development of the PND does not
create new operational databases and creates new information only
in the sense that undiscovered links will be revealed and local
force information will be visible to other authorised users of
the system. The Programme is ensuring that the provisions of the
Data Protection and Human Rights Acts, and other legislation,
are observed and addressed; and that the impact on individual
privacy is appropriate and minimised. NPIA is working closely
with the Police Service, the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice
and the Information Commissioner.
22. ANPR technology has been available for
over 30 years, although its use in policing was largely restricted
to counter-terrorism work until the late 1990's. Since 2002, the
Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has promoted development
of ANPR as a core policing tool, in conjunction with key partner
agencies. ANPR is now overseen nationally by a multi-agency Programme
Board, chaired by ACPO, with NPIA, HMIC, SOCA and the Security
Service, amongst others, as members.
23. ANPR has proven to be a very successful
operational tool, enhancing the ability of the police to intercept,
and arrest, a wide range of criminals using the roads. In the
last three years it has delivered two to three times more "offences
brought to justice" when compared to conventional policing
24. In April 2007, the national work on
ANPR was incorporated into NPIA which, under continued ACPO leadership,
is responsible for operational ANPR services at a national level;
a programme of Assisted Implementation in Forces beginning in
autumn 2007; and co-ordination of the wider ANPR development programme.
Currently, the Home Office has retained responsibility for development
of the proposals for the wider sharing of bulk ANPR data between
third party agencies and the police, and also the process to facilitate
of the transfer of bulk Transport for London (TfL) ANPR data to
the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) for the purpose of national
security, including terrorism.
25. "Facial Mapping" and "Automated
Face Recognition" are terms that are frequently used interchangeably
but have slightly different meanings. We have assumed that in
the context of a "surveillance society" it is really
automated Face Recognition (FR) that is primarily of interest
26. The police have long been interested
in the use of facial images to prevent, detect and solve crime.
The proliferation of CCTV cameras in the UK (approx one for every
14 people) means that we are now accustomed to our movements being
monitored in this way and for most people this is not an issue.
Indeed, if a crime is committed the general public now expect
there to be CCTV footage related to the event and concern is expressed
on those occasions when it turns out that none is available.
27. The creation of a national facial images
database, NPIA's FIND (Facial Images National Database) project,
will for the first time enable UK police forces to retrieve and
display facial images regardless of which Force Custody Suite
originally captured the images. Inevitably FIND also raises the
possibility of using automated FR to search this and other databases
in conjunction with CCTV or surveillance images (both still and
moving images) in an attempt to identify known offenders, terrorist
suspects, etc. Recent trials of FR around the world have shown
that there is still a long way to go before FR systems will work
reliably in such circumstances. Whilst the use of FR is outside
the scope of FIND, the NPIA's biometrics team has, for some time,
been investigating this area to better understand if, and how,
such technology could best be deployed in support of policing.