Examination of Witnesses (Questions 480
WEDNESDAY 16 JULY 2008
Rt Hon Tony McNulty MP and Mr Peter Storr
Q480 Lord Mawson:
Minister, you may from elsewhere be aware that I worked in East
London for many years where one has watched lots of different
pieces of government elsewhere and lots of talk about joined-up
thinking and joined-up action but when we started to look at it
on the ground, actually in reality it was not happening. A great
deal of money was spent and lots of structures were created but
there was fragmentation. I come a bit cold to some of this as
the new boy but one can very quickly see quite a lot of fragmentation
here. The whole positive of co-location is very important. I know,
having built buildings, about co location. You can co-locate what
is in the building and they never talk to each other. Something
else has to happen in the modern world to bring these sorts of
organisations together in a way that works and which is all about
people and relationships, not necessarily more structures. As
I look at this, there is all that reality there and difficulty
about how you move some of this into the modern world, so it operates
in the modern worked and actually does what it is meant to do.
My question, and this is an aspect of this but I just set that
context of what we are seeing here, is: what evidence of the effectiveness
of EU police cooperation does the Council receive from the Police
Chiefs' Task Force?
Mr McNulty: If I can go back just momentarily
to the issue of co-location, there was certainly when I was there
an absolute aspiration to co-locate. I am not entirely clear whether
that decision is irreversible that they do not, but I will explore
that. I certainly agree with the sentiments of both the Chair
and Lord Mawson that co-location is part of the matter; it is
not the whole matter by any means. I know that from assorted government
departments I have worked in and the difficulty sometimes of getting
one half to speak to the othernot in the Home Office, I
hasten to addbut I do take that point. The creation of
the Police Chiefs' Task Force was to solve some of the strategic
and overarching problems, and that is really where Europol's job
is. I am sorry to throw acronyms that I know you will be familiar
with but the COSPOL (Comprehensive Operational Strategic Planning
for the Police) project was set up within the PCTF with the aim
of providing a tactical response to threats identified in the
organised crime threat assessment. I think they are mindful that
there does need to be that coordination within the architecture
of Europol. I do understand, Lord Mawson, your point that they
do need to integrate far more readily with themselves and with
the police forces, but there have been some successes. When I
visited, there was huge excitement around a successfully coordinated
operation I think involving 28 countries to crack an on-line child
sex abuse case, led I think very ably by one of our colleagues
from Ireland. It was hugely successful. I think in the end it
concluded with some 46 arrests in the UK; 2500 customers in 19
countries were identified and a whole range of computers, videos
and photographs were seized and, sadly, a whole range of young
victims were also identified, but happily taken care of. There
is some evidence of them slowly knitting together the necessary
integration through their committee structures and oversight structures,
but equally and as importantly some evidence of the thing working,
and working I think very well. There is some difficulty around
different systems appreciating quite what certainly in the UK
we mean by intelligence-led proactive policing, particularly those
with the sort of inquisitorial system, those rooted in the Napoleonic
Code. It is not quite that the police sit back and simply react
to events and incidents as they happen, but there is I think a
counter-intuitive and cultural distinction between quite what
we mean in the UK by intelligence-led policing and what they might
understand by the issue. That does not mean we do not keep pushing
the whole notion of intelligence-led policing within Europol and
the overarching structures within the EU because we all know the
importance of that.
Q481 Lord Dear:
The point arose on your last comment about the definition of terms.
I wondered if you could help us on this. We have heard constantly
in our investigations into Europol the fact that different countries
apply different meanings to different terms and indeed intelligence-led
policing and intelligence generally is one of those examples cited.
I wonder if you saw any quick way through that because quite clearly
it is causing problems, not least for the directorate itself,
and some sort of lexicon by which people pay up to a common dictionary
definition might be of help. It seems so simple yet nobody seems
to be doing it. I wonder if there is anything we can do to accelerate
Mr McNulty: At least part of the answer
does lie in the oversight and committee structure that we were
just referring to and persuading them at the strategic level that
there should at least be some common agreement, as you implied,
as to exactly what we mean by these terms. I am pretty sure it
is not as stark as the Napoleonic inquisitorial-based models do
not do intelligence policing and UK models do. There must be some
overlap. I think in the end, like many of the European institutions,
the clarity will come in the doing, if I can say it in those terms.
I think by the example set by the UK and others we can push what
we think the intelligence policing model looks like and the French
and other equivalent definition of it a little bit further to
reach that common ground that you refer to. I think that is part
of the strategic oversight.
Q482 Lord Marlesford:
I think the point about intelligence-led policing is important.
I would be very grateful if, Minister, you could tell us exactly
what you mean by it in the UK sense. Secondly, as part of that
question, you referred to the difference between the legal systems:
what exactly do you think are the implications for intelligence-led
policing and the differences between inquisitorial and accusatorial
Mr McNulty: The simplest definition of
intelligence-led policing is carrying out tomorrow's activities,
tomorrow's policing, based on the experience you have of individual
targets and activities up to that point, so using that body of
information to inform the directions you go in, whether around
targeting individuals, particular sets of activities, particular
geographical locations, whatever; it is about building up that
body of knowledge and experience and utilising that in a proactive
fashion rather than simply reacting to the next set of events.
Clearly it is more complex than that but at its crudest that is
roughly what we mean by it. As I say, I think some of that work
is undoubtedly done in systems other than our own. There have
been huge advances in the last 15 or 20 years in the United Kingdom
in terms of an intelligence-led, targeted approach to policing
being far more readily the norm rather than simply a little portion
on top of everyday policing in this country, all the way from
neighbourhood policing up to SO15 and others. I am sure something
similar is starting to develop in other systems, but you will
know, to come on to your second point, that in many instances
it takes the inquisitorial dimension of the investigating magistrate
to set an investigation going in the first place. So there is
an incident, an event, and early evidence is presented to a magistrate
to see if, against particular people, there is sufficient to build
a case up. That sort of investigative framework is entirely different
from our own, without going into too many details and without
re-visiting other significant debates that your Lordships have
just had and we have dealt with over the last couple of months.
Q483 Lord Marlesford:
Following that up, once the police are involved in an investigation,
if they are using intelligence-led policing as you describe it,
I am not clear why the police activity is any different whether
it is done under the accusatorial system of our own or the investigative
system, the European system.
Mr McNulty: It is a perfectly fair point.
That hinges around your opening phrase "once the police are
involved". I think that is where it turns. Once the police
are involved in investigations of a crime, then I think the systems
diverge far more readily. What intelligence-led policing is much
about in this country is the precursor activity before a crime
or an action, and that is where I think less happens in terms
of these other models, but they are developing in a similar fashion.
I do not think there is quite the regard for targeting of an individual's
activity, geography as I have said, use of informers and use of
surveillance. All those other elements are developed of course
in the other models but I do not think they are as developed and
targeted as the real intelligence-led system that we have had
here since the advent of the national intelligence model, and
previous to that. It is now much more I think in policing DNA,
if I can use that term, in the UK than it is in some of the continental
models. That is not to say one is better than the other; it is
just that they are different.
Lord Marlesford: My Lord Chairman, I
think it would be very helpful, if you would agree, if we could
ask the Minister whether we could have a note, because it is such
an important part, from the Home Office on exactly what they see
as the difference in practice in intelligence-led policing between
the UK and other EU members?
Would that be possible? That would be helpful.
Mr McNulty: I am perfectly happy to do
Q485 Lord Mawson:
During its presidency in 2005, the UK introduced an EU-wide organised
crime threat assessment (OCTA) as part of a longer-term plan to
develop a European Criminal Intelligence Model (ECIM). Why is
there a marked difference in support for intelligence-led policing
amongst the Member States?
Mr McNulty: It is partly for the reasons
we have already gone through. I would say that the organised crime
threat assessment and intelligence-led policing are very much,
to be fair, work in progress. I thinkand this goes back
in part to Lord Dear's pointthat the more we develop and
mature the links between police forces and respectively between
the police forces and Europol on a cross-border, European-wide
basis in terms of the threat of organised and serious crime, the
more I think the intelligence policing model comes into it own
when you are looking at pre-emptive actions, crime trends, travel
patterns and a whole range of other things that are much more
around the intelligence-led policing model than otherwise. I think
slowly other Member States are realising the benefits of such
an approach. Albeit work in progress, as I have said, the principle
of intelligence-led policing is beginning to take hold across
Europe at least in that high level, supra-Europe, strategic dimension
in terms of organised and serious crime and in part, and as an
aside and without taking up another potential corner, because
of the continuing cooperation that there is in our counter-terrorism
effort where much more readily the intelligence model is the order
of the day.
Q486 Lord Marlesford:
If and when the Treaty of Lisbon comes into force, what improvements
will be made in the area of operational cooperation on internal
security by the creation of a standing committee within the Council?
What kind of resources do you see such a committee needing?
Mr McNulty: To start at the end of the
question, it will be a senior level working group of the Council,
supported by the Secretariat of the Council and attended by the
Member States, just as Europol, Eurojust and Frontex are. So I
do not think in those terms it would need to command any more
resources. We do not know the exact role and remit of the committee
on internal security and will not until after the October Council
when they determine what to do on Lisbon post the Irish referendum,
but I think it may be a very useful and sharper focus for these
matters if the standing committee does develop. I am mindful too
of two points: firstly, that as ever with these things perhaps,
there is a plethora of acronyms and bodies that stand behind them
and hopefully, if we do go down the route of a standing committee,
that will be the focal point; and, secondly, that we do need to
retain a sharp distinction between strategic cooperation and the
operation and tactical use of our police forces on a Member State
by Member State basis.
Q487 Lord Marlesford:
The message I get from that on this particular issue is that the
Lisbon Treaty is not going to make a great deal of difference.
I would like to know whether there are any aspects which we should
be taking into account in our report on Europol which are going
to be seriously affected if the Lisbon Treaty does not survive.
Mr McNulty: Given that much of the assorted
architecture around Europol is new and emerging and work in progress,
I think that the current position of Europol will endure and not
be unduly harmed in this very narrow sense by Lisbon, in the sense
that Lisbon may have regularised things a bit and put a standing
committee in place and some of those other elements, but much
of the work around refocusing and reconfiguring Europol has already
been done but very recently and, notwithstanding the October Council,
will endure with or without the Lisbon Treaty, to be fair.
Q488 Baroness Garden of Frognal:
Minister, if I can turn to Europol governance for the next question,
for Europol the principle of subsidiarity is that Europol will
deal with crimes that "require a common approach by the Member
States owing to the scale, significance and consequences of the
offences". In the Council Decision, this phrase is moved
from Europol's objective into an Article dealing with its competence.
What is the purpose of this change and what will be its effect?
Mr McNulty: There was certainly a lot
of negotiation around it, as I understand it, but I think the
absolute effect is to limit Europol's outreach to precisely those
trans-national crimes that, as it implies, because their scale,
significance and consequences involve at least two or three countries
and need and demand that level of cooperation. I think, however
nuanced it seems, the move of the particular wording from an objective
to a competence or vice versa just reflects that and reflects
that limitation and concern from members that the reach and definitions
around Europol should not be too broad as to simply operational
responsibility or locus on any Member State.
Q489 Baroness Garden of Frognal:
So it was in effect a limitation on its powers?
Mr McNulty: A limitation to simply crimes
of trans-national scale and significance where quite properly
Europol could have a role.
Q490 Lord Dear:
Minister, I have a couple of questions on the essential relationship
between the Director and the Management Board and then of course
obviously backwards to the Member States. The structure is initially
fairly easy to understand. Following the Council Decision, the
Director puts up strategic plans which he has worked out in draft.
They are adapted or accepted as the case may be after a debate
at the Management Board, and then he supplies the services to
Member States. That is all fairly easy to understand. But we are
confused a little on why the Management Board secretariat was
not enlargedwe were told it should have been enlarged and
was notand strengthened to allow it to develop the strategy
and make that job more meaningful and therefore leave the Director
to get on with the task of delivering the requirement. Of course,
implicit in that question is the central relationship between
the Director and the Management Board. We have heard two conflicting
sets of evidence, so to speak: one saying that the Director is
unduly borne upon by a Management Boardusing my words and
not theirs; they meddle too much in strategyand another
that says that is perfectly acceptable. Do you have a view on
that and how it might be improved if at all?
Mr McNulty: I think in part the Management
Board secretariat was not extended or expanded precisely to address
that issue, so that they did set a broad strategic framework and
then left the Director to get on with it and deliver. In terms
of sympathy, I would be with you in terms of not having a Management
Board be overbearing in terms of allowing the Director the time
and space to get on with his role. It is a clear relationship
but not one that is, like in many of these bodies, where the director
is utterly supplicant to the board. There should be the time,
space and discretion for the Director to get on with the job.
Q491 Lord Dear:
That is the theory. Does the Home Office have a view as to whether
the Director does find that the Management Board interferes too
muchperhaps a better word to use is involved too muchin
the day-to-day running or not?
Mr McNulty: It is a concern, but I certainly
do not have evidence that it is an overbearing concern. It is
one that we do need to be alive to and not let it get in the way.
Mr Storr: It has been mentioned to us
in the past. I think the view we have taken is that there are
certain functions of the Management Board which are so important
that they have to be exercised in a hands-on way, particularly
control of the budget. The other concern which we have had on
occasions, speaking frankly, is about the nature of the relationship
between the Director and the Management Board, which I think comes
back to Lord Mawson's point about the importance of relationships
between people as well as relationships between structures. Our
hope would be that whoever the next Director of Europol would
be, there would be an improvement in relations between the Director
and the Board that have not always been entirely plain sailing
in the past.
Q492 Lord Dear:
I think the chairmanship of the Management Board is going to be
moved from six to 18 months very shortly. That may well bear on
Mr McNulty: Yes.
Do you think that 18 months is still too short a time?
Mr McNulty: I think it is certainly,
as Lord Dear says, preferable to six months. We will see whether
it is sufficient. Bear in mind that you still at this stage have
to get that notional rotation in and then I think 18 months is
probably sufficient on a rotation basis.
Would you have thought on that four years might be an even better
Mr McNulty: On one level I would agree
with that certainly but I am not sure that four-year rotations
would garner much support in the hallowed ranks of the European
Q495 Lord Marlesford:
I just wonder: that issue at this point does not depend on Lisbon,
Mr McNulty: No, I do not think it does.
No, but we have heard it a suggestion that 18 months even then
is too short a time for a chairman to get really stuck in.
Mr McNulty: As I say, the reality is
that it will, as far as I am aware, remain a post that is up for
rotation. I think in the overarching system of rotation, 18 months
is possibly pushing the outer limitations, but I certainly agree,
as I say, that six months was far too short.
Q497 Lord Mawson:
This, unfortunately, has all to do with how you create organisations
that can operate complex partnerships in the modern world and
deliver stuff that really counts when it comes to it. Continuity
in those relationships seems to me fundamental. I do myself know
from the things I have been involved in that 18 months is a very
short period of time to understand the detail of the various organisations
involved and to build the sort of trust, relationships and honesty
that are necessary to make things work. Four years in my experience
is something rather more like it. How you get there, I do not
know, but it seems to me there needs to be far more of a discussion,
if these things are actually to work in practice, about these
sorts of matters, otherwise a great deal of money is invested
and lots of structures are created, but in terms of effectiveness
and delivery, who knows.
Mr McNulty: I would usefully suggest
that, as and when we get the new Director, it may well be appropriate
for the Home Office to talk to them in such terms and in the light
of whatever Europol comes up with. I am very happy to commit to
that. It might well be that the advent of a new Director is an
opportune time to discuss these matters, but we are in the rotation
world; we are in the sort of demi-world where politics and organisational
matters meet. I would argue on one level that 18 months for a
minister to get a grip of anything is not long enough, but I think
it is about the average life of a minister in any given post.
I have been very fortunate in that I have been in this post two
years and in the Home Office three years, but I suspect I am the
exception, not the rule.
Q498 Lord Dear:
I would like to ask Mr Storr if he would like to come back on
the matter of the relationship between the Director to the Management
Mr Storr: There is just one point of
clarification on the question of 18 months. During the negotiations
we put forward our own view, which was that two years or more
would have been more acceptable. I think the reason that they
settled on 18 months was because they were thinking in terms of
three six-month presidencies working very closely together. As
the Minister has said, when that rotates, the prize of Chairman
of the Management Board then becomes one which the three presidencies
in question have to fight over. I think if one went as far as
four years, you would find that those presidencies or future presidencies
had some reluctance to give up their place at the table, as it
were. I suppose one could also say that in addition to the Director
having a view on it, whoever the new Director is, there is a question
of the review period of the Council decision itself at the end
of four years, which would be an opportune time to take a view
on whether the 18-month tenancy had worked or not.
Q499 Lord Mawson:
There is just one practical point. I do not know how exactly this
works, so I may be completely naive about this. With the presidency
that is coming up, in a sense could that person be part of the
organisation and growing into the job for the next period so that
you build relationships? This may not be possible. My experience
of organisations is that if you can get people growing up through
the culture and then taking on the role, you get real continuity
happening rather than these constant breakages, but that may or
may not be possible.
Mr Storr: I think what could be possible
is that by and large when the chairmanship of the Management Board
changes, the change is within the present membership of the Board.
For example, when we had the presidency, Rob Wainwright, who I
think has given evidence to this committee on behalf of SOCA,
moved from being simply a national member on the Board to being
the Chair of the Board. So you would I think over a period of
time develop some sort of continuity of experience which may go
some way towards meeting your point.