Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80-85)|
Assistant Commissioner David Veness and Chief Constable
27 OCTOBER 2004
Q80Chairman: Could I encourage you, Mr Veness,
if you have not already read it, to read this Committee's report
into Eurojust and the workings of Eurojust, which I would commend
to you as the sort of definitive view of what Eurojust does. That
might be helpful at some point.
Mr Veness: Yes indeed, thank you, I am grateful.
Q81Earl of Listowel: How important is training
in the developments of an EU wide counter terrorism capability?
Perhaps before putting this question, I might just ask you if
you have any further comments you would like to make about how
existing European Union structures might be better streamlined
in their counter terrorism work or do you feel you have already
covered that particular point?
Mr Veness: I think in broad terms, if I was
asked to reduce it to a nub, my Lord, it would be less of them,
more effective and I think that is the agenda that beckons for
the European coordinator.
Q82Earl of Listowel: Thank you. Then to return
to the question of training: how important do you think this is
in the development of the EU wide counter terrorism capabilities
and what role can CEPOL play?
Mr Veness: In operational terms, it is probably
close to the top of the agenda. I would not demur from keeping
extremism as the one trans-national area that deserves to be at
the very top of everybody's agenda, but training is almost as
critical because it is the engine by which we are going to deliver
capability and capacity. Particularly when one looks at the movement
from the eastern borders of Europe down into the Mediterranean
of the problems that are linked with traditional drugs trafficking
routes, traditional routes whereby people are smuggled and the
extent to which they are exploited by terrorists as well, our
ability at a European level to contribute through training to
the effectiveness of operations and the ability of officers across
a range of agencies to make counter terrorism more effective on
the ground is enormously important. It is one where those western
European nations in particular, who sadly have had more developed
counter terrorist agendas, have got something meaningful to contribute.
The development of CEPOL is welcomeit is good that its
home is here in Hampshire and that it has its heart at Bramshilland
we want to encourage its development. I think we are in early
days, we have got a small number of permanent staff, it is a virtual
network. It has made good progress in 2004, I think 2005 beckons
in terms of delivery of courses across a range of areasand
back to my strategic challengecovering everything from
intelligence all the way through to putting the city back together
when some disaster has occurred. I think it is well placed to
make that broad contribution.
Q83Earl of Listowel: Has the training been targeted?
Should it be at senior officers or at various levels throughout
the EU? CEPOL concentrates on the senior officers, do you feel
that more needs to be done at other levels?
Mr Veness: Yes I do. You have got to begin with
an organisation understanding why it needs to be engaged in a
particular problem, I think you have got to leave problem recognition
to the bosses and then the rest of the pyramid hopefully will
come into place. I think the importance of the training effort
being across the span, as you suggest, is that one of our key
judgments would be this dimension of terrorism is going to take
years and years to contain, let alone to reverse the position
that we occupy today. That being the case, I think collectively
the leadership of British and European policing should be investing
very heavily in our young men and women, in their analytical skills,
in their understanding of the background of the problem, their
ability to use language in a more effective way. That is in many
ways an invaluable contribution because, sad to say, they will
need those skills not only next week but in five years' time and
in 10 years' time. I think a broad span of a rather more radical
and innovative approach to training across the agencies is again
a great opportunity.
Q84Earl of Listowel: May I put one further question,
if I may. Do you feel that the temporary exchange of senior officers
is justifiable given the obvious disadvantages to that and would
you say exchanges of lower ranking officers should be encouraged?
Is much of that taking place already?
Mr Veness: Yes, I think it is very valuable.
The example I know best in recent times was after the tragic murder
of our own defence attaché in Athens in June 2000. We worked
very closely together with the Greek authorities doing precisely
that, not only exchanging people who deal with recovery of bomb
scene clues, dealing with fingerprint activity, dealing with analysis,
all the way up to the senior officers who set the strategy and
that proved to be a practical example of working together. It
led to the benign outcome that a terrorist group that had defied
detection for 25 years, N17, was, thanks to the energies of our
Greek colleagues, successfully prosecuted. I could point to a
recent practical example, including the UK, where that has worked
across the span.
Q85Chairman: If Members have no further questions
I think that probably concludes our morning session with you.
You mentioned learning in an effective way, I think people could
have been no better placed than coming in here this morning and
listening to both of you give your evidence to us. It has been
the most informative morning that we have had and we have enjoyed
it very much indeed. We have learned an enormous amount. We have
been very fortunate to have you both giving your evidence. You
have answered with great clarity and openness all of our questions.
We are very grateful to you. Thank you again for coming.
Mr Veness: Thank you, my Lords, for your time.