Sunday, July 15, 2007

ACPO Must Go

OK, this is it. Not only must the Home Office go, so too must the Association of Chief Police Officers, the newest political party on the block. Its president, Ken Jones, now wants not just 90 days of detention without charge, but unlimited detention without charge. After all, it worked so well in Northern Ireland. Inevitably, Killer of the Yard's in favour, too.

What makes this even worse is the increasing blurring of functions between ACPO, a non-statutory club for top cops, and the actual police. For example, the ANPR number-plate tracking cameras deployed on the motorway system are the result of an ACPO decision, apparently outside either local accountability to police authorities, operational line management to Marsham Street, or ministerial accountability to Parliament. Processing the details of overseas convictions into the criminal records system, it turns out, is also carried out by ACPO.

And, at the same time as it carries out police work, it is also an independent political force - a sort of free-floating lobby for authoritarianism, a peripatetic producer of paranoia.

Of course, not having any place in the command structure or the constitution, it can be as authoritarian as it likes without facing up to the consequences. Says another fearsome security lobby, the Prison Officers' Association, the prisons cannot cope with the influx of terrorist cases - there are signs of proselytising and the formation of gangs. Obviously, the thing to do is to lock up a lot of people, some of whom by definition will be innocent, in an overcrowded jail with people we know certainly are actual Islamist terrorists.

Now, doesn't this have an ugly sound to it?


Anonymous said...

But the Home Office has gone, kind of. I thought you'd be pleased.

Mmm, ANPR. I had a letter from Hazel Blears about that one. Best bit: "ANPR is not a ‘Big Brother’ technology - it is designed to target those who choose to use our roads illegally and allows law-abiding citizens to go about their business uninterrupted."

Works just as well without the 'not', I think.

ziz said...

ACPO is actually a Limited Company, Limited by Guarantee and its principal source of funds is the Home Office.

Therefore it is completely beyond control of any representative body. In theory the Home Office cut stop funding it... fine chance.

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