Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence


Memorandum by National Co-ordinator Ports Policing

  1.  With reference to an invitation, dated 11 July 2007, to submit evidence and comments to the above mentioned sub-committee, I would ask for the following points to be considered. I am submitting these comments on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers [Terrorism and Allied Matters] (ACPO (TAM)) where, in my capacity as National Co-ordinator Ports Policing (NCPP).

2.  The Office of the NCPP was formed in 1987 under the authority and control of the Home Office, where it formed part of the Terrorism and Protection Unit (now the Office of Security and Counter Terrorism—OSCT). There has been a National Co-ordinator since its inception, developing the police response at ports and borders and joint working with the other border agencies. In 2003, following the HMIC Thematic Inspection "A Need to Know", the NCPP moved under the Governance of ACPO (TAM).

  3.  The NCPP supports the Government's CONTEST strategy and the ACPO (TAM) Three Year Delivery Plan (2006-09), into which specific objectives for ports policing have been incorporated. Under the vision statement "Working together to secure UK ports and borders from the threat of terrorism and crime thereby reducing harm to the UK", we aim to achieve the following objectives:

    —  More effective border controls.

    —  The collection and development of intelligence.

    —  Support to investigations.

    —  Providing a hostile environment for terrorists and criminals.

  4.  Policing at the border and ports can be described as falling into three broad categories: Intelligence, Protective Security, and General Policing (including the management of major and critical incidents). The intelligence function at the border and ports is the role of Special Branch officers whose responsibilities are set out in the Home Office "Guidelines" for Special Branch. They cover: Counter Terrorism; Serious Organised Crime; and Child Abduction.

  5.  The current terrorist threat level within the UK necessitates that positive action is taken to prevent terrorists from entering the UK and, in the case of suspected "home-grown" terrorists that a sufficient capability exists to monitor their movements. The police work in close partnership with other border agencies; HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and the Border & Immigration Agency (BIA) as well as the Security Service. This border agency partnership approach has been shaped through the Border Management Programme (BMP).

  6.  SB officers at ports primarily rely on powers contained in Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (TA2000) to examine passengers and goods. This legislation allows a constable or designated officer to examine a person to determine any involvement in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. This examination may or may not lead to reasonable grounds for arrest being established.

  7.  The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) was established in April 2006 as a new law enforcement agency with a remit for reducing the harm caused to citizens of the UK by serious organised crime. The current top two priorities are combating Class A drugs and organised immigration crime. SOCA does not have a direct frontline presence at ports. Police work closely with SOCA in providing expert operational support, particularly in relation to tackling organised immigration crime.

  8.  In terms of the wider police responsibility related to combating less serious criminality (Level 1 and 2 crimes) that may penetrate the border, officers at ports also deal with such matters. With the development of e-Borders it is anticipated that the number of suspected criminals coming to police notice at ports will significantly increase. Early indications from Project Semaphore (the pilot of e-Borders) forecast that 38 arrests are made per million passengers that have passed through this system. Expected passenger numbers for 2014, when e-Borders is expected to reach 95% capacity, is 200 million. Potentially this could result in up to 8,000 arrests being made per annum at ports (although this figure must carry the caveat that it is based only on preliminary data).

  9.  In partnership with BIA (Enforcement and Compliance) police officers provide considerable expert practical assistance in the investigation and detention/removal of [inland] immigration offenders. A number of senior police officers have been seconded to BIA Enforcement. Their role is to co-ordinate teams of police and immigration officers through a network of police inspectors organised on the ACPO geographical regions. Within London over the past three to four years there have been a number of police officers co-located with BIA staff within Joint Intelligence Units. These officers mainly assist with the conduct of risk assessments prior to any operations being carried out. Additionally, for the past two years around 30 police officers have been assisting in visits and with the removal of Failed Asylum Seekers. Following the publication of the Enforcement Strategy an additional 65 police officers have been assisting BIA staff with the investigation of immigration crime—this includes both the investigation and charging of individuals under the current legislation via the courts, leading to either removal or formal deportation. Outside London the picture is similar, however the third strand mentioned above (ie assisting BIA staff with the investigation of immigration crime—this includes both the investigation and charging of individuals under the current legislation via the courts, leading to either removal or formal deportation) is planned to commence later this year.

  10.  The UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC)—based in Sheffield—is led by ACPO and is responsible for ensuring that police and partner agencies maintain a joined up and strategic approach to tackling human trafficking. Their main aim is to increase knowledge and understanding of human trafficking amongst police and partner agencies. I am aware that the UKHTC have very limited interaction with Frontex.

  11.  At present the UK Police Service is not represented within Frontex. Should the scope of Frontex be expanded then I consider that the current arrangement, whereby BIA is the sole UK border agency present on the Frontex Management Board [indirectly representing other UK border agencies] as being insufficient. It is reasonable to assume that Frontex will widen its remit in the future. I consider that representation of the UK Police Service within this Agency would significantly improve upon the existing situation; by fully representing the interests of the UK in relation to any Counter Terrorism (CT) effort and combating criminality, particularly around operational activity and gathering intelligence.

  12.  Given the necessity to tackle terrorism and crime beyond our physical borders I would welcome any opportunity to discuss the possibility of increasing UK Police Service activity in the European arena, in order to secure links with other EU police and government agencies that are specifically responsible for monitoring European land and sea borders. It would be beneficial for UK police to gain a better understanding of [and influence] the EU Integrated Border Management (IBM) approach that has been adopted.

  13.  In relation to intelligence products, Frontex does not currently produce a collective intelligence product for dissemination to member states. Each state is responsible for recording intelligence for its own use. There is significant scope for more action to be taken to effectively capture and disseminate intelligence that would be of use in combating crime and terrorism impacting on the UK.

  14.  One of the Agency's main tasks is to co-ordinate joint operations at the external sea, land and air borders of the EU. Given the UK's current level of engagement with Frontex, even if SB officers were to take part in specific operations in a supplementary capacity it would at least create opportunities for gathering CT and crime intelligence around irregular migration. For example, where there might be a tacit connection between a human smuggling ring and a terrorist organisation then the opportunity to extrapolate and develop intelligence on that connection is not currently apparent (ie a structured approach to gathering and disseminating intelligence). As Frontex develops its operational capability and influence beyond irregular migration then the UK Police Service should be represented. Such representation would be of benefit to the UK in contributing to reducing harm to its citizens and the economy by increasing our intelligence gathering capability within the EU. Furthermore, I believe that the UK Police Service could offer much needed expert support in planning and managing operations to combat criminality.

  15.  In its current form Frontex is limited in what it can achieve; it employs 82 personnel and has a budget of €35 million. In order to become more efficacious in dealing with matters beyond irregular migration (eg criminality, CT) a significant increase in [specialist] resources would be required.

  16.  As Frontex comes under increasing pressure to act comprehensively in all border management matters I would look forward to engaging in discussion around the UK Police Service being singularly represented on the Management Board; in relation to CT and mainstream criminal matters. I am aware that two Border and Immigration officers are permanently based in Frontex, undertaking specific roles. I would see real benefit in initially placing a UK SB officer within the Agency to assist with operational planning and intelligence sharing.

John Donlon

Assistant Chief Constable

National Co-ordinator Ports Policing

4 September 2007


 
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