Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 520 - 523)


Rt Hon Tony McNulty MP and Mr Peter Storr

  Q520  Lord Teverson: I would agree with that absolutely. Are those mainly UK considerations?

  Mr McNulty: They are principally UK considerations and the notion of stepping out from being a serving police officer.

  Q521  Lord Teverson: I get the impression informally from a couple of places that there is certainly dissatisfaction about SOCA's performance as the intermediary. Do you have any feeling about that or is the Home Office trying to do anything about that?

  Mr McNulty: I do not get a sense of unhappiness about it. That certainly has not been relayed to me or colleagues from Council meetings. I would always look for that to improve.

  Q522  Lord Teverson: I meant more maybe from within the United Kingdom and other areas that may have to work through SOCA.

  Mr McNulty: There were certainly some concerns expressed by colleagues in ACPO about SOCA and then, as is the way with these things, from colleagues in SOCA about ACPO. I have held a series of meetings with Vernon Coaker, as I have said, who largely looks after SOCA, firstly with ACPO to talk about SOCA and then with SOCA to talk about ACPO and then with both of them to try and see what the measure of it was. I think they have just about finalised a sort of working protocol and understanding between the two as to quite where particularly level two and level three crimes stop and start in terms of their operational competence in the UK and by inference SOCA acting as a conduit with Europol. I think we are in a happier place now than we were.

  Q523  Lord Dear: I was going to make an observation rather than put a question about the problems of getting the right people—good people—to go to agencies like SOCA and particularly to Europol. I think it is not only to do with pensions; it is it do with the whole culture of the organisation, which sadly has been deeply rooted in the police service, and maybe other agencies as well, over the years that when you go away, you are out of sight and out of mind for three years or five years, or whatever, and when you come back you have to learn to do the job again and prove yourself again, and of course that is a huge disincentive. One of the few ways I would say in my experience you can get over that in part is to send somebody there on promotion. They got something out of it when they went; they come back having held that rank which they might have got had they remained at home. It is a simple device but it is a cultural thing. How you get chief constables and others to face up to it is difficult.

  Mr McNulty: We are doing it in part by the sort of limited proliferation of other bodies and other potentials for secondment. There is an increasing exchange between the Home Office and serving police officers in the general sense with NPIA, with SOCA, with some of these other organisations. I think with the newer generation of chief constables, less so human resource directors, they are positively encouraging that so that their people do get a wealth of experience potentially for short bursts across a whole range of areas rather than 30 years in one place attitude. I think it is changing.

  Mr Storr: Perhaps I could add that I think as the committee knows the United Kingdom will be fielding a candidate for Director of Europol during the course of this year.

  Chairman: Thank you for that. If colleagues have nothing further, Minister, thank you for coming and for being a good deal briefer than some of our witnesses are. We appreciate that. This is our final evidence session and we shall be starting to put together a report during the summer recess, which we shall be looking at soon after we come back in October. We are hoping to produce a report and publish it before the end of the session, which now looks as though it so going to be the end of November. It has been most helpful for you to come and wind up our evidence sessions. We appreciate that. Mr Storr, thank you for coming again to see us.

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