To be published as HC 617-i

House of commons



Home Affairs Committee


Tuesday 16 October 2012

Keith Bristow QPM

Evidence heard in Public Questions 1 - 64



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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Home Affairs Committee

on Tuesday 16 October 2012

Members present:

Keith Vaz (Chair)

Nicola Blackwood

Steve McCabe

Alun Michael

Bridget Phillipson

Mark Reckless

Mr David Winnick


Examination of Witness

Witness: Keith Bristow QPM, Director General, National Crime Agency, gave evidence.

Q1 Chair: Good afternoon Mr Bristow. Thank you very much. I am sorry for keeping you waiting. We have had a heavy session so far and also a vote in the middle, although there are no votes in the middle of your evidence session.

Thank you very much for coming. It is nine months since we last saw you when you were the only employee of the National Crime Agency, the flagship of the Government’s new landscape of policing. Have you been joined by other people?

Keith Bristow: I have, Chair, and thank you very much for inviting me back. We are steadily now starting to recruit the senior leaders for the NCA, so I have been joined by Trevor Pierce, who is the current Director General of the Serious Organised Crime Agency. He has joined us and he is now double-hatted. He has undertaken a Director of Operations role within the NCA at the same as running SOCA. Peter Davies, who is the Chief Executive of CEOP has joined us on the same basis, and we have recruited David Armond as Director of Border Policing. Shortly we will be in a position to make an announcement on the Director of Organised Crime and Economic Crime. So, at last I am being joined by some friends and colleagues.

Q2 Chair: Good. Are you making these appointments, or is this done by senior civil servants or by the Home Secretary?

Keith Bristow: I am a member of the panel. It is a civil service commissioner process but these are the people that I need to join the agency, and they are people in whom I have a great deal of confidence.

Q3 Chair: So, it is civil service-led rather than police-led. Is that fair?

Keith Bristow: Yes, because these appointments are into senior civil service posts.

Q4 Chair: Right. I think when you last came before us we were not sure as to what your budget was going to be. You told the Chief Superintendents Conference on 12 September that your budget was going to be £500 million a year but the Home Office Minister, Lord Henley, told the House of Lords in June it was going to be £400 million. Do you now know what your budget is going to be?

Keith Bristow: I think there was a little bit of paraphrasing in the reporting that came from the Superintendents Association. What I said was it would be under £500 million when you take into account the various independent funding streams that we will receive.

I am operating on the assumption that our core funding will be the post comprehensive spending review budget of our main precursor.

Q5 Chair: Sorry, can I stop you there? We are not very good at jargon. We would like just figures if you could tell me. Do you know what your budget is going to be?

Keith Bristow: I am operating on the assumption that it will be £403 million, which is the SOCA budget for the year of our first operation, but SOCA receives around £40 million or so in other grants to undertake particular work, so it will be, I would assume, over £403 million, but I don’t have a precise figure at the moment, Chair.

Q6 Chair: So, your understanding is that you will get SOCA’s budget less the special grants that they get, which is about £403 million, but you have not had an email from the Home Secretary saying, "Your budget is £403 million." It is just an assumption you are making.

Keith Bristow: We have a planning assumption, which is a reasonable assumption, which has been worked through with Home Office officials.

Q7 Chair: We are not trying to catch you out; we genuinely want to know. What has happened to the NPIA budget? Because they also had £400 million. Where has that gone?

Keith Bristow: We have had a number of specialist functions transferred. They will come to NCA in due course. They are being held in SOCA at the moment, and those functions come with around £10 million worth of funding and that is included in the figure that I have just shared with you.

Q8 Chair: Sure, but what about the rest of the NPIA budget? Do you know what the NPIA budget was, what Nick Gargan had responsibility for? Because I have it here as 1,500 members of staff and £392 million. They are obviously being abolished and their powers are being transferred. At the moment on the grid that I have in front of me the only powers that you are getting at the moment, and I may be wrong, are the Proceeds of Crime Centre. Are you conscious of having anything more other than the Proceeds of Crime Centre?

Keith Bristow: A number of functions have already transferred, Chair. I think the Proceeds of Crime Centre is a function that will transfer in due course.

Q9 Chair: Right, but that is coming to you?

Keith Bristow: Yes.

Q10 Chair: What else is coming to you? Are you getting training, IT, science and forensic service?

Keith Bristow: No, the functions that we have inherited are operational services, so Serious Crime Analysis section, the Witness Bureau, those sorts of specialist crime fighting functions. Those are the ones transferred to SOCA.

Q11 Chair: At the moment you are only going to get the old budget of SOCA and that is it?

Keith Bristow: That is the assumption that we are operating on at the moment. Just going back to the point that you made about the additional grants, my assumption is that we will get additional grants on top of that, but I am just not clear at the moment given the phase that we are in through the spending review coming up exactly what those will be.

Q12 Chair: All right. Now, bearing in mind that you are a new organisation and that the Home Secretary is rightly setting a lot in store by what you are going to do, is that going to be enough for you to deal with these myriad new responsibilities that you are going to take on-organised crime, border policing, economic crime, child exploitation, as CEOP is coming within you with their own budget, I assume, and cyber crime? Are you happy with the resources that you have? Because at the start of an organisation, this is the time to ask.

Keith Bristow: My priority is to make sure that the resources that we are given are used to best effect, and I am confident that we can make a step change in our ability to fight crime, to protect the public in all the areas that you mentioned with the resources that we have been given. Of course, if we had more resources we could do more, but I recognise that across the whole of the public service there are pressures at the moment and my focus is on doing the best that I can with what we have and we will deliver a very real change.

Q13 Chair: Excellent. Now, SOCA had 3,800 members of staff, the NPIA had 1,500 members of staff. How many of the 3,800 members of staff do you anticipate will end up in the National Crime Agency?

Keith Bristow: If you are a substantive officer within SOCA, my assumption is that those officers will be part of a statutory transfer scheme, which gives them right of passage into the National Crime Agency. So, I am assuming unless colleagues in SOCA choose to go and do something else they will join the NCA, and I am operating on the assumption that our workforce will start at around 4,000 officers, or just over that number.

Q14 Chair: So you will have more officers than there were officers in the Serious Organised Crime Agency? You will have 200 more.

Keith Bristow: The 3,800 figure that you quote, quite rightly, I don’t think that includes the officers that have already transferred from NPIA.

Q15 Chair: That is 1,500 from the NPIA?

Keith Bristow: It is only a 100 or so that have transferred from the NPIA to SOCA though.

Q16 Chair: You have the same number, or more, or less?

Keith Bristow: A couple of priorities for me are that I want more of our officers to have law enforcement powers.

Q17 Chair: No. I understand that. We will come on to functions in a minute. I just want to try to get it right. Will you have more officers, or less officers, than there were at the disposal of SOCA?

Keith Bristow: I am assuming we will have approximately the same number of officers on day one as the precursor agencies have had.

Q18 Chair: That is a very helpful and very precise answer. I am grateful for that. We will come on to CEOP; Mrs Nicola Blackwood will be talking to you about CEOP. Just to get the landscape right at the moment, apart from your senior management, there is nobody else actually working for the NCA. Is that right?

Keith Bristow: That is correct at the moment. We are still working through the details of a statutory transfer scheme and clearly, at the moment, we do not have an agency. The existence of the agency depends on the views of Parliament.

Q19 Chair: Of course. A vesting day, we know; the Home Secretary told us. You see, what worries me and others, I think, is while this great organisation is going on and the new landscape is being formed-and it is right that we should have a new landscape, incidentally, and I support fully, and this Committee supports fully, the creation of a National Crime Agency-the Mr Bigs of this world are rubbing their hands with glee, because instead of officers being committed to try to catch them, we are involved in this reorganisation as to who is going to get what job and where they are all going to sit in the new landscape. Is that a worry to you, or are you happy that it is all going on?

Keith Bristow: If there are criminals, and particularly the most dangerous criminals, that are feeling like that, of course it is a worry to me, because I would like to see those people being brought to justice and their behaviour disrupted. What I would say is that the precursor agencies, including SOCA and CEOP and some colleagues in NPIA and elsewhere, are working very hard to tackle those people at the moment. We are already developing some shadow arrangements, and my ambition is that around April or May next year we will have moved into-as much as we can without legislation-a set of arrangements that are in effect a shadow National Crime Agency. We will be ensuring that all of those resources are working in the way that we all have an ambition to have them working.

Q20 Chair: At these meetings, when people sit around and divide up the new landscape-you presumably are present-are you making the case for certain parts of the other organisations to come to you on operational grounds, along with other people? Who sits at this meeting? Presumably, Nick Gargan, does not attend these meetings any more because NPIA no longer exists. Is there a meeting going on where the key people involved in the NCA-the College of Policing, the IT company-do they sit around and decide on this, or does it come from on high and somebody else decides, you will get this database or you will get that database?

Keith Bristow: There are a group of colleagues that have an oversight role in exactly the way that you describe. I feel absolutely engaged in that debate. The bits that I am interested in, of course, are not about databases; they are about crime fighting capabilities.

Q21 Chair: Who are the other colleagues who sit around the table with you?

Keith Bristow: The president of ACPO, other senior officials, people such as Nick Gargan. It is called the Police Oversight Group.

Q22 Chair: You all sit there and decide on the new landscape?

Keith Bristow: We are engaged in forming those decisions, but some of those decisions are clearly for Ministers.

Q23 Bridget Phillipson: Can I ask what international comparisons have been explored when you have been setting up the agency?

Keith Bristow: I think myself and a number of colleagues have pretty substantial international experience, and we have considered all sorts of good practice and different approaches. What we are trying to develop is a distinctly UK-based approach, because of the particular challenges and opportunities that we have here. The international colleagues that I am engaging with on a regular basis are very interested in the model that is being developed. I will be interested to see if there is learning for them, and we are taking learning from the new approaches that they have developed as well.

Q24 Steve McCabe: Mr Bristow, I read somewhere that in the last financial year the agency was given £3 million to set up the Co-ordination and Intelligence Centre. I wonder what you have done with that money, if you have spent it, and if you have, what you spent it on?

Keith Bristow: The agency as such would not have been given the money, but I think you are referring to the Organised Crime Co-ordination Centre. Am I correct? That centre is now operational.

Q25 Steve McCabe: I think in some documents it is called the Co-ordination and Intelligence Centre, but I am going to assume it is the same thing we are talking about.

Keith Bristow: If I assume the same, the Organised Crime Co-ordination Centre is the place where we bring together different datasets from across the whole of law enforcement to deconflict them, to make sure that we are not doing things that overlap or are incoherent, and we share intelligence to make the best judgements. It is the place where the Organised Crime Group mapping process, which is moving on our understanding of organised crime, is developed. That is up and running and is making a real difference already.

Q26 Steve McCabe: Is £3 million about the right figure that it cost to bring that work together? Is that about right?

Keith Bristow: I would need to check and respond to you on that, because that figure may well be right, but I would want to come back with a precise answer.

Q27 Steve McCabe: But it is up and running and it is working now?

Keith Bristow: It is, and it is making a real difference.

Q28 Chair: Your former colleague, John Yates, said in the comment piece in the Telegraph that a British FBI will not make us any safer. Do you agree with him?

Keith Bristow: To be clear, we are not developing a British FBI. We do not have those different jurisdictions where we have federal offences and state offences. What we are doing here is integrating a whole law enforcement response. My very strong view-otherwise I would not have applied for this job, nor do I believe I would have obtained it-is that this is an opportunity to join up the whole law enforcement effort against criminals and threats that do not respect geographic or agency boundaries, and tackle those more effectively and cut crime.

Q29 Mr Winnick: I cannot speak for my colleagues, but I think it would be true to say they are more enthusiastic about the National Crime Agency than I am. There has been, as the Chair just mentioned, a comment among some people at least, that this will be the equivalent of the United States FBI. Is there not a danger of talking up this agency when, quite likely, it won’t be able to do what, in many instances, is being proposed?

Keith Bristow: What is being proposed is that we have a system of police forces-over 50 within the UK at the moment-and a set of national agencies, and we are developing an agency that will lead the overall response. That is partly about the operations that we lead; it is partly about how we support wider law enforcement; and it is, significantly, about how we co-ordinate the overall effort. This is about the joining up of law enforcement agencies to tackle those threats that do not respect geographic or agency boundaries. It is not about creating an agency that would scoop up the whole of the problem. We would not have the capacity to do that, and that would not fit with the model of policing that we have within the UK. We need to stretch from local through the regional to the national and the international, and we need to lead the overall effort. That is the agency that I am building to do that.

Q30 Steve McCabe: Do you think there is any merit in making comparisons between the National Crime Agency and the FBI?

Keith Bristow: I think there is merit in making comparisons with all sorts of agencies where there are things that we can learn.

Q31 Steve McCabe: Particularly the FBI-let us stick to the FBI.

Keith Bristow: There is much that we can learn from the FBI, but the model we are developing is quite different from the model that exists in the United States, because we don’t have federal offences and we all operate within the same jurisdiction.

Q32 Steve McCabe: When the Serous Organised Crime Agency was established, we had witnesses at the time and I was a member of the Committee, and there were certainly high expectations of what that agency would undertake, and no doubt it did good work. Would you not say however, that it did not quite fulfil its promise?

Keith Bristow: I think SOCA have done some very good work, and made a very real difference. I have heard the Chairman comment on a number of occasions about the international work that SOCA has done, but let us be clear, we would not be making this change if everything that we needed to be delivered within a modern context had been delivered. This is about building on the very good work that SOCA has done. It is about a different model. SOCA was never given the remit to lead the overall law enforcement response. There was never a proposition that they had the powers to task, whether directed or voluntary. There was never the breadth of responsibilities that the NCA will have. To be clear, what I am building is a law enforcement agency that will do all of that to a world-class standard.

Q33 Steve McCabe: You can always prove me wrong, can’t you?

Keith Bristow: Pardon?

Steve McCabe: You can always prove me wrong in the end.

Keith Bristow: That would be my ambition, I am afraid.

Q34 Chair: It is an ambition of some of us, as well. Let us move on to the issue of PCCs. You gave a very long interview in The Times this morning as a curtain-raiser to your appearance before the Select Committee. It gave us a little bit of insight into you. You certainly were able to talk to them about a number of issues. One of the issues that you raised was Police and Crime Commissioners, and you seemed to indicate that you thought that there may be conflicts, potential conflicts, between the new PCCs and local Chief Constables. At some stage you will have to engage with the crime commissioners; how do you intend to do this?

Keith Bristow: The interview that appeared in The Times this morning was not a curtain-raiser from my point of view. It was last week. The two issues that were reported-they were reported accurately-were two issues that were raised in an hour’s interview. I have met, in large groups, with 120 or so prospective Police and Crime Commissioners. I have been impressed by the number that absolutely understand, if you are interested in acquisitive crime and violence and antisocial behaviour, then for instance, drug markets, as too cyber crime. People understand that. The point that I was making was that as committed professionals, whether elected or appointed, Chief Constables, myself, the Home Secretary and PCCs are all going to be looking for improvements in public protection and to cut crime. We will not always agree on every occasion about how we might do that, but on most occasions I think we will. I think there is a lot of common sense and a lot of determination around to ensure that we cut crime by working together.

Q35 Chair: One of the key tasks you have is the tasking power to get Chief Constables to do things that you would like them to do. Do you think that this is going to work in respect of a PCC who does not want his or her Chief Constable to do something that you instruct them to do?

Keith Bristow: I think I have been very clear that the way in which we want to work with policing and our other law enforcement partners is a shared intelligence picture and making sensible decisions collectively about how we are going to tackle the most dangerous people and the most dangerous groups and prevent organised crime. In those extreme circumstances, if we are unable to agree or it is expedient to use a tasking power, then I think I do need that power to be in the armoury. But part of me feels that if that is the case, somewhere there has been a collective failure.

Q36 Chair: You don’t want to use it if you can help it, but it is nice to have it?

Keith Bristow: I think it also signals a very clear intent and determination to tackle these organised crime groups and these individuals, who are dangerous and causing hugely significant problems. With leadership comes the ability to shape behaviour and approaches. I have just come now from a meeting with a lot of my colleagues across policing, senior colleagues, and they share my determination to tackle these groups and individuals and we are very confident that, working together, we will do just that.

Q37 Bridget Phillipson: The agency will have to prioritise different threats. How will that process work, and what will that kind of prioritisation work in practical terms?

Keith Bristow: One of the things that we are seeking to avoid, and this is a piece of work that is developing now, is taking a crude threshold approach. If we talk about drugs, I want to avoid a certain quantity of drugs that are seized becoming an NCA-led operation, versus a smaller quantity might belong to another agency. The approach that we are developing is about developing clear principles that the whole of law enforcement can sign up to, such as, what is the seriousness of the criminality, what are the opportunities, what can partners bring, what specialist capabilities can we bring, and developing our understanding of organised crime groups, to identify those that are particularly nationally significant. I believe that is a very good starting point for where the NCA should lead operations and provide most support to other law enforcement agencies that are targeting those groups.

Q38 Bridget Phillipson: We heard earlier from the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire on the cases in Rotherham around child sex abuse. What would you anticipate for the agency in not simply dealing with individual cases, or collections of cases, as we have seen in Rotherham, but in assisting police forces in coming to recognise how you might deal with that kind of organised exploitation of children?

Keith Bristow: CEOP will become a command within the NCA, and it will therefore be connected to the wider law enforcement resources that we have within the NCA, and then out into policing through the national tasking and co-ordinating arrangement. We are positioning CEOP in a particular way where they have access to those resources. I want to build on the very good work that CEOP has done around exploitation, whether that is within local communities in the way that you have described or it is online. I think there is real expertise, there is real understanding, and there is absolutely proper law enforcement response that we can bring to support local forces and agencies.

Q39 Nicola Blackwood: We have had some reassuring evidence from Trevor Pearce from SOCA and from Peter Davies that, despite initial concerns, they are confident that CEOP will retain its special character and independence within the NCA, but obviously there are going to be pressures on resources, and when you are faced with the need to prioritise between child exploitation, drugs and terror, how confident are you that you will still be able to protect CEOP in that context?

Keith Bristow: Inevitably, in all public services, and NCA will not be any different, we would like to do more, and sometimes we will be required to make difficult choices. To be clear, child exploitation is about as horrible as crime can be. I am very clear how important it is that we put the right level of resource into tackling those particular threats, and we work well with a wide range of partners, not just law enforcement. You and I both know-NSPCC, private sector partners-it is very, very important. I am confident, as is Peter Davies, who has been appointed into a role in the NCA, that we can improve what CEOP operate to do at the moment, rather than erode any of the important work that they do.

Q40 Nicola Blackwood: As I understand it, there is a new duty to have regard to child protection in the NCA, which was not in existence before in SOCA or any other agency. Do you think that this will help in terms of joint working between CEOP and the other parts of the NCA, so perhaps joint operations will be more effective?

Keith Bristow: I have never found any problem whatsoever engaging police officers and law enforcement officers in tackling child exploitation, but I think it is very important the whole agency has a duty in law to ensure we have regard to the needs of children. That is more than presentational; that is an important part of us thinking through all of our policy decisions. We must have the interests of children at the forefront of our minds.

Q41 Nicola Blackwood: If you have not ever had any problems in engaging officers in child exploitation, then why have there been so few prosecutions in child sexual exploitation cases up until this point? Why has this, over the last year, become such a scandal nationally?

Keith Bristow: The point that I am making is that you don’t need to work hard for police officers and law enforcement officers to understand that children are some of the most vulnerable people in our society and need particular care and protection. There is a lot of work going on at the moment that I know that you will be aware of, to understand some of these particular cases and to understand that law enforcement and others could have done more, so I will wait to see what comes from those scrutinies of what has happened, and we will go from there.

Q42 Nicola Blackwood: You do accept that it is important that the lessons of the appalling cases which are coming to light do need to be learned, and that there is better working that can come out at the end of it, so that we don’t have a repeat of some of these cases in future, because some of them do engage organised crime at different levels? I think that it would be something that certainly CEOP would provide, and NCA would hopefully be playing a significant role in, going forward.

Keith Bristow: I absolutely accept the importance of learning lessons, and I know that Peter Davies is giving evidence before you in a couple of weeks, and I know that he believes that too. Peter is a very strong advocate within our team for the needs of children and the importance of tackling exploitation.

Q43 Chair: Can I just put to you the case that is in the public domain? The Metropolitan Police arrested a multimillion pound owner of various assets. It was a very big operation. They confiscated his passport. He managed to go to Iraq, along with the assets he owed the courts, simply by applying to the IPS for another passport. Nobody had told the Passport Service that his passport had been confiscated. How would the existence of the National Crime Agency make any difference to that kind of case?

Keith Bristow: My understanding is there is a very clear process in place to prevent what you have just described happening, and clearly that has not worked.

Q44 Chair: What is that process?

Keith Bristow: My understanding is that the law enforcement agency that take possession of a passport have a responsibility to inform the Passport Service of what they have done, to prevent further applications. I only know what you know, from within the public domain.

Q45 Chair: You have seen the case, have you?

Keith Bristow: It would appear that something has gone wrong in these circumstances, but I am not in a position to talk about this specific case, because I know no more detail than you.

Q46 Chair: Sure. But in those kinds of cases, as you are a national agency, would it not be better if there was also a relationship between the NCA and the Passport Service?

Keith Bristow: Absolutely. There will be a very strong relationship between the Passport Service-

Q47 Chair: They would notify you and you would be able to notify the Passport Service?

Keith Bristow: We are not there yet.

Q48 Chair: Is that the intention?

Keith Bristow: There will be a very strong relationship between the Intelligence Hub and the Passport Service. We need to work through the detail of that, but particularly given that we have the border policing command and an overall responsibility for border security, one can see how some of these important provisions could perhaps come together. To be clear, the provisions that are in place, it seems to me, work in the vast majority of cases.

Q49 Chair: Except this one?

Keith Bristow: This is one that we know of.

Q50 Mark Reckless: In your interview with The Times, the curtain-raiser or otherwise, you said, "I value my privacy. I do not want to be snooped upon or have my life intruded upon. That is not what we are talking about here. We are talking about criminals who run organised crime gangs that import drugs, we are talking about predatory paedophiles, we are talking about dangerous people, and we need the tools to do the job." But isn’t information on everyone going to be kept?

Keith Bristow: Retained, yes, but not necessarily made available to law enforcement. The point that I am making is that I too have concerns about those privacy issues that we have just discussed, but I am not one of the sorts of people that I then went on to describe.

Q51 Mark Reckless: You say not necessarily made available to law enforcement, but my understanding is that law enforcement, a senior police officer, would sign off for access to that, rather than a member of the judiciary. Is that correct?

Keith Bristow: That is correct.

Q52 Mark Reckless: So it will be available to law enforcement, subject to a senior law enforcement person saying, "Yes, let us look at that"?

Keith Bristow: It will, but where we are undertaking a criminal investigation involving serious criminality, and the threshold is quite significant, as it is at the moment, in terms of accessing data and personal information.

Q53 Mark Reckless: You say it is not a political intervention, made in support of this process?

Keith Bristow: Absolutely not. My point is that my job is to protect the public and cut crime. Most people that would be interested in, within the NCA, one way or another, use the cyber environment and data is hugely important if we are going to bring those people to justice and stop them hurting people.

Q54 Mark Reckless: So you need it to do your job. What will you do if we don’t give you that power?

Keith Bristow: I will have to work very hard at finding other ways of mitigating the loss of capability. We are losing capability at the moment, because criminals now conduct their business in a different way that sometimes is beyond the reach of law enforcement.

Q55 Mark Reckless: Is that extra capability worth £1.8 billion?

Keith Bristow: I would find it very difficult to put a value on losing that capability. I am very clear that this is an essential part of modern law enforcement and protecting the public. It is absolutely crucial.

Q56 Mark Reckless: Just one final point. In your interview you said that law enforcement agencies must be more open and accountable for the way they use their powers. You promised that the NCA would be more transparent than previous bodies. How will the NCA be transparent and accountable?

Keith Bristow: Through the media to the public, directly to the public, and with our partners. I want people to be very clear about what we stand for, what our officers believe in, what our standards are, how we are delivering or not. I want a different level of openness and transparency than we have seen from the national agencies that have gone before. I am very clear that is an important part of law enforcement.

Q57 Mark Reckless: But the local Police and Crime Commissioners are going to hold their Chief Constable accountable. SOCA had an oversight board. What are the arrangements going to be for you? I understand you will talk to the press, which is all well and good, but in terms of, say, democratic accountability, how is that going to help you?

Keith Bristow: The arrangement set out in the Bill is that I will be directly accountable to the Home Secretary, and through the Home Secretary, to Parliament. I think the Home Secretary has been very clear that that is the arrangement that she believes is appropriate. Beyond that, whether it is Police and Crime Commissioners, Chief Constables, or other important partners, I absolutely need to develop the right relationships and ensure that all of those partners understand what organised crime means for local communities, the challenges that they face, and to understand what we can bring and how well we are doing it. How I am called to account is ultimately a matter for the Home Secretary and Parliament. I am very clear, the set of arrangements I am going to have in place are about being open and transparent, as law enforcement should be. There will be occasions where we can’t do that for operational reasons.

Q58 Mark Reckless: As well as being accountable to Parliament through the Home Secretary, we also look forward to your future appearances before our Committee?

Keith Bristow: Whenever I am invited, it is my absolute pleasure to come and describe to you what we are up to and answer your questions.

Q59 Chair: Excellent. Let me end by asking you some final, general questions about your position. You will be one of the top police officers in the country, along with the Commissioner and the head of the new College of Policing. Do you have any views as to whether the people who run the college, the chairman and the chief executive, whether they ought to be police officers?

Keith Bristow: Certainly starting from where we are now, the chief executive should have significant senior policing experience. One would hope that within the relationship between the chief executive and the chair, there needs to be a balance of expertise and knowledge, but given the very good work that has been done over the years on professional practice and policy, and training and professionalising the service, I think having a professional that is leading that is the right thing to do.

Q60 Chair: You have just completed Operation Sacristy, which found the Chief Constable of Cleveland guilty of gross misconduct. I think he has just been dismissed. Is that right?

Keith Bristow: He has, but I have not completed the operation. Sean Price remains on bail, as do a number of other people, and the criminal investigation has some way to go, as do some other misconduct investigations that are currently in place.

Q61 Chair: You are still doing that?

Keith Bristow: I am.

Chair: As well as being chief executive of the NCA; it does not impinge on your work running the NCA?

Keith Bristow: It is a challenging role, as I am sure you will understand, but it is a role that needs to be dealt with.

Chair: No, I am talking about the other work you are doing with Sacristy. That is not taking you away from your other duties?

Keith Bristow: It is a challenge, but it is the right thing to do to see it through to a conclusion.

Q62 Chair: It worries me, the large number of senior police officers who are currently under investigation. I think nine senior police officers, Chief Constables, are under investigation of one sort or another. Does that worry and concern you? We are talking about a new College of Policing for ordinary police officers, but at the highest levels there seems to be a problem.

Keith Bristow: During recent weeks we have seen the first Chief Constable dismissed for 37 years, Sean Price. Equally, we have seen a Chief Constable who was the subject of some allegations who has been completely exonerated. My personal view is that those that lead any organisation, and I think this applies more so to policing and law enforcement, given the trust that is placed with us, need to lead by example and have the highest standards of integrity and probity in everything that we do. If we fall below those standards, we should be called to account and dealt with robustly. It is as simple as that.

Q63 Chair: Indeed. You are looking forward to this job. You are waiting for vesting day. We do not have a date for vesting day as yet?

Keith Bristow: We are working towards 1 October, and I am very much looking forward to it. It is a very exciting time.

Q64 Chair: This is 1 October next year?

Keith Bristow: Yes.

Chair: And by then you will have your 3,800 members of staff?

Keith Bristow: I hope it will be 4,000 and over.

Mr Winnick: And you can start proving that I am wrong.

Chair: Okay. Mr Bristow, thank you so much for coming in today; most grateful. Thank you for your time.

Prepared 22nd October 2012