Association of Chief Police Officers
Agency overview
Formed 1948,[1] limited company incorporation 1997
Employees 21[2]
Legal personality Non government: Private Limited Company
Jurisdictional structure
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters 10 Victoria Street, London, SW1H 0NN

Template:Infobox law enforcement agency/autocat

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO, official title The Association of Chief Police Officers of England, Wales and Northern Ireland), established in 1948,[1] is a private limited company that leads the development of policing practice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

ACPO provides a forum for chief police officers to share ideas and coordinates the strategic operational response and advises government in matters such as terrorist attacks and civil emergencies. ACPO coordinates national police operations, major investigations, cross border policing, joint law enforcement task forces. ACPO designates Senior Investigative Officers for major investigations and appoints officers to head ACPO units specialising in various areas of policing and crime reduction.

Scotland has eight forces and they are similarly coordinated by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland.

ACPO is currently led by Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde QPM who was, until 2009, the Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland. He was elected as president by fellow members of ACPO in April 2009.[3]

It is funded by Home Office grants, profits from commercial activities[2] and contributions from the 44 police authorities in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Background[edit | edit source]

UK policing sprang from local communities in the 1800s. Since the origins of policing, chief officers have regularly associated to discuss and share policing issues. Although ACPO as now recognised was formed in 1948, records of prior bodies go back to the early 1900s. The UK retains a decentralised model of policing based around the settlement which emerged from the Royal Commission on the work of the Police in 1962.

ACPO continues to provide a forum for chief officers across 44 local police forces and 13 national areas across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and provides local forces with agreed national policies and guidelines.[4]

In May 2011 the BBC reported that ACPO would run out of money in February 2012 without extra funding. Acpo is half-funded by the Home Office and half by 44 police authorities. A third of police authorities refused to pay in 2010 and another third were undecided. The Association of Police Authorities said the withdrawal of funding by police authorities was "partly due to a squeeze on their income".[5]

Constitutional status[edit | edit source]

Over time, demands for coordination across the police service have increased as society has changed,[6] for example to take account of new developments in international terrorism and organised crime, or roles such as monitoring offenders on release from prison or working with young people to divert them from crime.

In 1997 ACPO was incorporated as a private company limited by guarantee. As a private company, ACPO does not have to comply with the Freedom of Information Act. It is not a staff association, the staff association for senior police officers being a separate body, the Chief Police Officers Staff Association (CPOSA).

The change in structure from a "band of volunteers" to a limited company allowed the organisation to employ staff, enter into contracts for accommodation and publish accounts. However, the current president has stated that he is uncomfortable with the current limited company arrangement and that he is willing to debate alternative structures.[7]

A number of options have recently been considered for the status of ACPO, including charitable status,[8] but that particular option has been discounted.

Chief Constables and Commissioners are responsible for the direction and control of policing in their force areas. Although a national body and recognized by Government for consultation, ACPO has no powers of its own, nor has any mandate to instruct chief officers. However, the organisation allows chief officers to form a national policy rather than replicate the work in each of their forces. For example, in 1981, following riots in twenty-seven British cities, including the 1980 St. Pauls riot and the 1981 Brixton riot, ACPO began preparation of the Public Order Manual of Tactical Operations and Related Matters. Police forces began training in its tactics late in 1983.[9]

Membership[edit | edit source]

ACPO is not a staff association. It acts for the police service, not its members. The separate Chief Police Officers Staff Association acts for chief officers.

ACPO is composed of the chief police officers of the 44 police forces in England & Wales and Northern Ireland, the Deputy Chief Constable and Assistant Chief Constable of 42 of those forces and the Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, Deputy Assistant Commissioner and Commanders of the remaining two - the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police. Certain senior non-police staff and senior members of national police agencies and certain other specialised and non-geographical forces in the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands are also members.

As of March 2010 there are 349 members of ACPO.[10] The membership elects a full-time President, who holds the office of Chief Constable under the Police Reform Act 2002.[11]

ACPO bodies[edit | edit source]

ACPO is responsible for several ancillary bodies, which it either funds or which receive Home Office funding but which report to ACPO:

ACPO Criminal Records Office[edit | edit source]

The ACPO Criminal Records Office (ACRO) was set up in 2006 in response to a perceived gap in the police service's ability to manage criminal records and in particular to improve links to biometric data. The aim of ACRO is to provide operational support relating to criminal records and associated biometric data, including DNA and fingerprint recognition.

It also issues police certificates, for a fee, needed to obtain immigration visas for Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the USA.[12]

ACPO Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service[edit | edit source]

The Association of Chief Police Officers Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (AVCIS) is managed by ACPO, and is responsible for combating organised vehicle crime and the use of vehicles in crime.[13]

National Community Tension Team[edit | edit source]

The National Community Tension Team (NCTT) is an ACPO body which monitors religious, racial or other tensions within communities, and provides liaison between police forces and community organisations.[14]

National Counter Terrorism Security Office[edit | edit source]

The National Counter Terrorism Security Office is funded by, and reports to, ACPO and advises the British government on its counter terrorism strategy.[15]

National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit[edit | edit source]

The National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit (NETCU) reported to ACPO's Terrorism & Allied Matters (TAM) committee, and coordinates police tactics against extremist groups.[16] In January 2011 NETCU came under the control of the Metropolitan Police.[17]

Police National Information and Co-ordination Centre[edit | edit source]

ACPO is responsible for coordinating the national mobilisation of police resources at times of national need through the Police National Information and Co-ordination Centre (PNICC), which it set up in 2003.[18] This includes ensuring policing resilience during major events such as emergency response to serious flooding or the investigation of a terrorist attack. PNICC sits alongside the government in COBR (Cabinet Office Briefing Room) to advise on national issues. PNICC also handles support to overseas crises involving UK nationals.

It employs three full-time staff, with other staff seconded to it as needed and is funded by contributions from each of the police forces.[18]

Controversies[edit | edit source]

Freedom of information[edit | edit source]

ACPO had been criticised as being unaccountable to Parliament or the public by virtue of its limited company status.[19] In October 2009 Sir Hugh Orde stated that ACPO would be "more than happy" to be subject to the Freedom of Information Act.[7] On 30 March 2010, the Ministry of Justice announced that ACPO would be included under the FOI Act from October 2011.[20] In its response, the organisation stated that "Although organisations cannot voluntarily comply with the Act, a large proportion of ACPO's work is public already or available under FOI through any police force".[21] In January 2011 its website still said it: "is unable to do is to respond to requests for information under the Act. The organisation is too small and there are too few members of staff to be able to conduct the necessary research and to compile the responses."[22] From November 2011 however, FOI requests can be made to ACPO.[23]

Confidential Intelligence Unit[edit | edit source]

In February 2009, the Mail on Sunday highlighted the involvement of ACPO in setting up the "Confidential Intelligence Unit" as a specialised unit to monitor Left-wing and Right-wing political groups throughout the UK.[24]

Commercial activities[edit | edit source]

The February 2009 Mail on Sunday investigation also highlighted other activities of the ACPO including selling information from the Police National Computer for £70 despite it costing them only 60p to access it, marketing "police approval" logos to firms selling anti-theft devices and operating a separate private firm offering training to speed camera operators.[25]

Apartments[edit | edit source]

The organisation was criticised in February 2010 for allegedly spending £1.6M per year from government anti-terrorist funding grants on renting up to 80 apartments in the centre of London which were reported as being empty most of the time.[26][27] The organisation responded that it has reviewed this policy and is reducing the number of apartments.[27]

Undercover activities[edit | edit source]

As a result of The Guardian articles with regards the activities and accusations of PC Mark Kennedy of the National Public Order Intelligence Unit within the National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit, and the collapse of the subsequent trial of six activists, a number of initiatives and changes were announced:[28][29]

DNA database[edit | edit source]

ACPO has supervised the creation of one of the world's largest per capita DNA databases, containing the DNA profiles of more than one million innocent people. ACPO's guidelines that these profiles should only be deleted in "exceptional circumstances" were found to be unlawful by the UK Supreme Court in May 2011.[31] They were found to be incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, following the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights in S and Marper v United Kingdom. On Tuesday, 1 May 2012 the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 completed its passage through Parliament and received Royal Assent. To date ACPO has not reissued revised guidelines to replace its unlawful DNA exceptional procedure. Big Brother Watch in a report of June 2012 concludes that despite the Protection of Freedoms Act, the retention of DNA in England and Wales remains an uncertain and illiberal regime.

Fake uniform[edit | edit source]

During the summer of 2011 Sir Hugh Orde, the then president of the Association of Chief Police Officers was seen wearing a dark blue police style uniform with ACPO insignia and was accused of wearing a fake uniform. However, an ACPO spokesperson stated "the Police Reform Act 2002 states that the President of the Association of Chief Police Officers holds the rank of chief constable. Not being a member of a particular force, the President wears a generic police uniform".[32]

See also[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 John Steele (20 October 2001). "Police chief 'club' may become closed shop". The Telegraph (London).'club'-may-become-closed-shop.html. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Duncan Gardham (15 February 2009). "ACPO makes £18m from criminal records checks". Daily Telegraph (London). 
  3. "Sir Hugh Orde elected ACPO President". Police Service of Northern Ireland. 16 April 2009. 
  4. "Our Structure". Association of Chief Police Officers. Archived from the original on 26 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  5. "Police chiefs' body Acpo 'may go bust' as funds dry up". BBC News. 20 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-05. 
  6. Newburn, T (2008). "5". Handbook of Policing. Willan Publishing. ISBN 0-571-15089-6. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Uncorrected transcript of oral evidence taken before the Home Affairs Committee - Sir Hugh Orde and Chief Constable Tim Hollis". United Kingdom Parliament. 13 October 2009. 
  9. Gerry Northam (August 1989). Shooting in the Dark: Riot Police in Britain. Faber and Faber. pp. 41, 46. ISBN 0-571-15089-6. 
  10. "About ACPO". Association of Chief Police Officers. 
  11. "President of ACPO". Police Reform Act 2002. 
  12. "Police Certificates". Association of Chief Police Officers. 
  13. "About AVCIS". Association of Chief Police Officers. Retrieved 2010-040-08. 
  14. "National Community Tension Team FAQ Leaflet". Association of Chief Police Officers. Retrieved 2010-04-08. [dead link]
  15. "National Counter Terrorism Security Office website". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  16. "National Extremism Tactical Co-ordination Unit website". Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Daily Hansard - Written Answers - Police National Intelligence and Co-ordination Centre". Hansard. United Kingdom Parliament. 21 July 2009. 
  19. Sean O’Neill (10 March 2010). "Tories accuse senior police of giving political cover to Labour". Times Online (London). 
  20. "Greater transparency in Freedom of Information" (Press release). UK Ministry of Justice. 30 March 2010. 
  21. "Comment on MOJ announcement for ACPO to come under FOI in October 2011" (Press release). Association of Chief Police Officers. 30 March 2010.{75F61D4B-1469-448B-B6B7-ECF70FC4BEAB. Retrieved 2010-04-01. 
  24. Jason Lewis (7 February 2009). "Secret police unit set up to spy on British 'domestic extremists'". Mail On-Line (London). Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  25. by Jason Lewis Body in charge of UK policing policy is now an £18m-a-year brand charging the public £70 for a 60p criminal records check 15th February 2009, accessed 27th April 2009
  26. Jason Lewis (21 February 2010). "Millions of anti-terror cash spent on luxury London flats for police chiefs". Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 23 February 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  27. 27.0 27.1 Felix Allen and Justin Davenport (22 February 2010). "Police chiefs’ group spent £1.6m on Westminster flats". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 4 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-04. 
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 Travis, Alan; Lewis, Paul; Wainwright, Martin (17 January 2011). "Clean-up of covert policing ordered after Mark Kennedy revelations". London: The Guardian. Archived from the original on 19 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-19. 
  29. 29.0 29.1 James Slack (18 January 2011). "Police chiefs body loses power to run undercover units in wake of eco-warrior spy scandal". London: Daily Mail. Archived from the original on 19 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-19. 
  30. "Police inspectors review undercover operations". BBC News. 18 January 2011. Archived from the original on 19 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-19. 
  31. "DNA and fingerprint guidelines 'unlawful'". BBC News. 18 May 2011. 
  32. Leake, Christopher (21 August 2011). "Candidate for top Scotland Yard job wears fake uniform with made-up plastic badge - Mail Online". Daily Mail (London). Retrieved 2012-03-25. 

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