Evaluating the new architecture of policing: the College of Policing and the National Crime Agency - Home Affairs Contents

2  The New Landscape of Policing

4. During the course of this Parliament there have been a number of structural changes to policing bodies and organisations. The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) are no more, with the National Crime Agency (NCA) and College of Policing being created. There is a new police ICT company, incorporated in 2012 to "help police forces improve operational effectiveness and get better value for money and innovative ICT" (although it is not yet fully operational).[6] The National Police Chief's Council (NPCC) will replace the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) from April 2015, to co-ordinate operational policing at the national level.[7] These changes, and the functions that have moved, are set out in more detail in Annex A.

5. There is no doubt about the scale of these changes. Peter Neyroud, the former Chief Executive of the NPIA, told us that it all amounted to "a hell of a lot of change",[8] and Sir Hugh Orde, President of ACPO, recently referred to "seismic shifts in the policing landscape".[9]

6. Keith Bristow QPM, Director General of the National Crime Agency highlighted challenges he had encountered in creating a new organisation, and then getting up to full operational capacity:

    I think we have brought together a number of disparate organisations and it is going to take time to integrate those into a single agency. I think there is work that we need to do to develop capabilities that we need that we do not currently have, or we do not currently have enough of, and some of that is about how we operate in a digital world. … I think we have had a good first year. There is more to do, and the public are safer as a result of the NCA being brought into being.[10]

7. During the course of this Parliament, all the major policing bodies have been overhauled and reformed. There is no part of the police service that has not been or is not being restructured. It is now time to allow these pieces of the policing puzzle to settle into the new landscape, so that they might achieve the aim of making policing more effective.

Responsibility for counter-terrorism

8. When The National Crime Agency: A plan for the creation of national crime-fighting capability was published on 8 June 2011, it did not rule out the possibility that counter-terrorism could be one of the NCA's responsibilities at some point in the future.[11] In our previous report, New Landscape of Policing, we concluded that there would be advantages in placing responsibility for counter-terrorism in the National Crime Agency, but recognised that there was a danger that this would divert resources and attention from the fight against organised crime. We agreed with the Government, that responsibility for counter-terrorism should remain with the Metropolitan Police until after the 2012 Olympics, not least because the National Crime Agency would not be fully functional until the end of December 2013. However, we recommended that, after the Olympics, the Home Office should consider making counter-terrorism a separate command of the National Crime Agency.[12]

9. In October 2013, in their evidence to our counter-terrorism inquiry, the Home Office told us that once the NCA was up and running, the Government would consider what, if any, role it should play in respect of counter-terrorism.[13] In our Report, we reiterated our earlier conclusion, recommending that the work to transfer the terrorism command from the Met to the NCA ought to begin immediately with a view to a full transfer of responsibility for counter-terrorism operations taking place in 2018.[14]

10. The Home Secretary has announced that any review of terrorism policing would be postponed until after the election, in light of the recent increase in the terrorist threat level.[15] A few days after this announcement, Keith Bristow told us that in his view, the most important issue was not which agency led the fight against terrorism, but how the most effective use could be made of existing counter-terrorist capabilities. He argued that, given the similarities in the operating methods of terrorists and organised crime, there would be some advantage in merging or integrating the two sets of capabilities.[16]

11. In evidence to the Committee, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe took a slightly more cautious view:

    My view is that where we are is good, particularly at the moment. We are, as you know, busy and I don't think it would be wise to disturb that, particularly at the moment. A future Government might decide to review it and I think that is perfectly understandable, but I think we have to wait at the moment. I think the decision of the Home Secretary to postpone that was entirely right because I think we would have distracted some very busy people who are dealing with some very serious issues, which would have been unwise.[17]

12. One piece of the policing jigsaw that has not found a settled position is counter-terrorism. We agree with the Home Secretary's decision not to conduct a review in this Parliament, due to the terrorism risk faced by the UK at the moment. However, given recent national events and global atrocities, it does not appear likely that the terrorism risk will decrease in the near future. Therefore, we recommend that the review take place early in the next Parliament, to maximise the impact of the police's CT capabilities.

Collaboration between police forces

13. In December 2014 the Chief Constable of Lincolnshire Police, Neil Rhodes, wrote to the Home Secretary to express his fear that his force would effectively go out of business within three years under the current funding arrangements. The alternative, he suggested would be to cut a further fifth of frontline officers, ending routine street patrols, ignoring a large element of minor crime and refusing requests for mutual aid.[18]

14. Lincolnshire has one of the largest force areas in the country, covering almost 2,300 square miles, but with few towns and cities and a relatively low population. The force has one of the smallest staff of all 43 forces in England and Wales. It has reduced the number of officers from 1,220 to 1,100.[19] As shown in figure 1, Lincolnshire Police will receive one of the lowest revenue allocations for England and Wales in 2015/16.Figure 1: Provisional revenue allocations for England and Wales 2011/12 and 2015/16, £m

Note: Figure 1 does not include the revenue allocation to the Greater London Authority.
Source: Police Authority Grants (England and Wales), Written Statement, 13 December 2010, Column 73WS; and Police Grant Report England and Wales 2015-16 Written Statement, 17 December 2014, Column 99WS

15. Sir Hugh Orde, President of ACPO, highlighted similar observations from Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and told us that there were a number of anomalies in the funding formula.[20] He suggested that the amalgamation of smaller forces to achieve economies of scale might be one possible solution, and advocated an independent review of the "totality of policing" to look for ways to achieve savings while protecting neighbourhood policing.[21] Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe has gone further, arguing for a reduction in the number of police forces in England and Wales from 43 to nine, based on regional boundaries.[22] The Home Secretary told us that she "would be willing to look at" proposals for force mergers if they had local support, but suggested that there were ways of making savings through collaboration that preserved the identities of local forces.[23]

16. In our report in May 2014, Police and Crime Commissioners: progress to date, we explored how police force areas might work more closely together in the interests of efficiency and effectiveness. We concluded:

    Collaborative working has the potential to save money as well as providing a higher standard of policing. We support the efforts of commissioners in working with their neighbours and others in fields as diverse as the provision of blue light services, mental health, community safety, organised crime and counter-terrorism. Although there has been progress in some areas, it is clear that a majority of police forces are not yet exploiting the full potential of collaboration. … We also support the alliances between Warwickshire and West Mercia, and Surrey and Sussex, the former of which has achieved the majority of their required savings over the current spending period through collaboration.[24]

17. We are concerned that some police forces believe that they will not be able to operate in their current form while making further efficiency savings. We are also concerned that senior leaders in the police appear to be keen to tear up the police forces map to make savings. We have previously examined how forces can collaborate both with their neighbouring forces, and with other blue light services. We believe that potential savings from collaboration between forces and between the emergency services at local level have not yet been fully realised and offers the best opportunity to achieve further efficiency gains. We recommend that where pre-existing alliances have proved successful, and there is local support police forces should be allowed to merge.

NCA performance

18. One area of police operations under the new landscape that we remain concerned about is the recovery of criminal assets. At our evidence session with Keith Bristow QPM, Director General, National Crime Agency, we explored how it was performing in its first year, and particularly if it was going to be better than the Serious Organised Crime Agency SOCA. He told us that in SOCA's last year of operation it recovered £14.9 million of assets, whereas the NCA recovered £22.5 million in its first year, with 3,229 arrests and 400 convictions. However, this level of recovery was achieved with a budget of approximately £500 million.[25]

19. We requested further detail on the NCA's asset recovery performance, which has been provided in the tables below:Table 1 Breakdown of NCA Criminal Assets Recovered
Cash forfeitures £3.1m
Civil recovery and tax receipts £7.7m (see Table 2 below for further detail)
Confiscation Orders enforced £11.7m (of which £5.518m was recovered by the NCA Asset Confiscation Enforcement Team see Table 3 for further detail)

Source: NCA letter dated 29 October 2014Table 2 Breakdown of Civil Recovery and Tax Receipts
Cash£7.129 m
UK Property £0.566m
Luxury Watches £0.02m

Source: NCA letter dated 29 October 2014Table 3 Breakdown of the £5.518m recovered by the NCA Asset Confiscation Enforcement Team
UK Property £4.5m
Financial Institution £0.100m
Jewellery and Other Valuables £0.005m
Other (Business Interest) £0.025m

Source: NCA letter dated 29 October 2014

20. When the National Crime Agency was created, it was an opportunity for a new organisation to shake off the practices of its predecessor, and to show improved performance under a new regime. We welcome the work done by Keith Bristow in leading the National Crime Agency - in particular the way he has been open and transparent with the Committee. However, we are not seeing the level of performance we would expect. The NCA, like SOCA before them, is an organisation that can claw back assets from those involved in criminal activity. However, like SOCA it is not recovering assets in sufficient volume to justify a budget of half a billion. The NCA must improve drastically in this area so that the returns achieved equate to the resources that are made available to it. Furthermore, the NCA needs to produce and make public benchmarks whereby its performance can be assessed. Parliament needs to be able to hold the NCA to account for its performance so that there is ongoing improvement.

21. The Committee did initially register concern about the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) coming under the control of this organisation, however generally the NCA has proved to be a more effective body than the other new organisations. The most significant remaining concern the Committee has is regarding the intelligence received from Toronto Police before CEOP came under the NCA upon which no action was taken. The NCA must address the backlog of abuse inquiry cases which it inherited from CEOP with the greatest of urgency.

6   https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/helping-the-police-fight-crime-more-effectively/supporting-pages/police-ict-company Back

7   http://news.acpo.police.uk/releases/update-on-acpo-future Back

8   Home Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2013-14, Leadership and standards in the police, HC 67-I, Para 21, Back

9   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29662893 Back

10   Home Affairs Committee, The work of the National Crime Agency, HC 688, Oral evidence, 14 October 2014, Qq 75-77 Back

11   https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/97826/nca-creation-plan.pdf, p 13 Back

12   Home Affairs Committee, Third Report of Session 2013-14, Leadership and standards in the police, HC 67-I, Para 90 Back

13   Home Affairs Committee, Counter-terrorism, HC 231, Home Office written evidence (INQ0007) http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/committeeevidence.svc/evidencedocument/home-affairs-committee/counterterrorism/written/4863.pdf, para 15 Back

14   Home Affairs Committee, Seventeenth Report of Session 2013-14, Counter-terrorism, HC 231, para 141 Back

15   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29547445 Back

16   Home Affairs Committee, The work of the National Crime Agency, HC 688, Oral evidence, 14 October 2014, Qq 35-40 Back

17   Home Affairs Committee, Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, HC 711, Oral evidence, 11 November 2014, Qq 171-178 Back

18   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/11276719/First-police-force-faces-going-out-of-business.html Back

19   As above Back

20   Home Affairs Committee, College of Policing, HC 800, Oral evidence, 9 December 2014, Q2 Back

21   Home Affairs Committee, College of Policing, HC 800, Oral evidence, 9 December 2014, Qq 33-34 Back

22   http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/dec/14/reform-cuts-public-risk-police-emergency-services-austerity Back

23   Home Affairs Committee, The work of the Home Secretary, HC 500, Oral evidence,15 December 2014, Qq 192-193 Back

24   Home Affairs Committee, Sixteenth Report of Session 2013-14, Police and Crime Commissioners: progress to date, HC 757, Paras 24-25 Back

25   Home Affairs Committee, The work of the National Crime Agency, HC 688, Oral evidence, 14 October 2014, Qq 50-62 Back

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Prepared 17 February 2015