Memorandum by the Association of Chief
Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland (ACPO)
The Association of Chief Police Officers welcomes
the decision of the House of Lords' Select Committee on the European
Union to conduct an Inquiry into Europol, the European Police
The Inquiry has provided ACPO with an opportunity
to consider specifically, the intended alterations to the governance
arrangements for Europol, changes to the current role and operating
environment under this new arrangement and examine how effectively
information from Europol reaches police forces in the UK.
The criminal threat is increasingly international.
The continuing expansion of the European Union and increased "freedom
of movement" pose significant challenges to UK law enforcement
agencies, which are charged with preserving the security and safety
of UK citizens. It is critical that the highest levels of cooperation
be maintained between the UK and agencies in Europe to ensure
that the legal, logistical and language differences do not provide
an increased opportunity for Europe's criminals to gain an advantage.
UK police forces need fast-time, reliable, up-to-date
and comprehensive information exchange with our European colleagues
and rely on the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) for
this. SOCA manages the relationship with Europol for police forces
in the UK.
Police forces are broadly satisfied with what
Enquiries when handed to SOCA may pass down
one of a number of channels (Europol, SOCA Liaison Officers Network
or Interpol) and may be requested under one of several legal authorities
(Swedish Initiative, EU treaties, etc.). The precise channel used
is not generally important to the requesting police force, on
condition that the product that results is legal, reliable, useful
As it is often unclear when information arrives
back with UK forces what route it has taken, police forces can
be unsighted on the extent of Europol's contribution.
Europol is an effective law enforcement partner
and resource to policing in the UK. It aims to facilitate information
exchange and to provide high quality analysis. In this regard
ACPO sees more evidence of success in the former aspiration than
the latter. ACPO does, however, recognise the need to be realistic
in its expectations, with an EU population of 495 million citizens,
there is only so much impact that Europol's limited analytical
capability can have. SOCA puts people in to Europol to ensure
they get a share, so too do the Metropolitan Police Service.
Other forces would generally be pragmatic and
not expect to see too much direct local benefit from this analysis
(although there will be occasions when they get it!) Instead they
would feel the benefit via the UK Threat Assessment (UKTA) which
is informed by the Europol Organised Crime Threat Assessment.
ACPO Crime Business Area has commissioned a
limited review of the National Intelligence Model (NIM). One area
of scrutiny will be the operation of NIM at a national and international
level. A further piece of work is underway to review the National
Strategic Assessment (NSA), looking at its relationship to the
UKTA. Both of these pieces of work will entail scrutiny of international
links including Europol.
Examples abound of effective international,
bilateral and multilateral initiatives around intelligence sharing
and policy development. ACPO relies on SOCA to maintain an overview.
Yet, however the formal mechanisms for co-operation (Europol,
Eurojust, Swedish Initiative, Interpol) develop, ACPO would remind
the Committee of the value of direct contact, face to face, between
investigatorswhich proves its value time and time again.
ACPO welcomes any improvement in international
capability and any development that will improve the speedy availability
of accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date information.
This submission provides an overview of the
ACPO position in relation to the operations of Europol and the
current arrangements for accessing their services through SOCA.
ACPO representatives will attend the Committee to provide oral
evidence where they will address the questions raised in the Committee's
Call for Evidence in greater detail.
ACPO will provide a more comprehensive written
submission to the Committee following the oral evidence stage
if that is desirable.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)
is an independent, professionally led, strategic body. In the
public interest and, in equal and active partnership with Government
and the Association of Police Authorities, ACPO leads and co-ordinates
the direction and development of the police service in England,
Wales and Northern Ireland. ACPO's 341 members are police officers
of Assistant Chief Constable rank (Commanders in the Metropolitan
and City of London Police) and above and senior police staff managers
in the 44 forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and other
forces such as the British Transport Police and States of Jersey
Prepared by Chief Constable Ian Johnston and
Assistant Chief Constable Nick Gargan
27 June 2008