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UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner issues Annual Report 2013-2014

The UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s inaugural Annual Report outlines both the work the Commissioner, Tony Porter, has completed and his future plans.

The report explains how the Commissioner:

*continues to promote the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice to relevant and non-relevant authorities
*has launched an easy to use self-assessment tool for any organisation to demonstrate how they are meeting the principles contained in the Code
*has continued the work of his predecessor, Andrew Rennison, to simplify the CCTV standards framework in order to encourage the industry and operators of CCTV systems to meet minimum standards
*will be issuing guidance to users of domestic CCTV following his concerns about the growing number of complaints around the use of CCTV at people’s homes

Download a copy of the Annual Report 2013-2014

Tony Porter: UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner

Tony Porter: UK Surveillance Camera Commissioner

Foreword to the Annual Report

In the Foreword to the Annual Report, in which he addresses Home Secretary Theresa May, Tony Porter states:

“I am pleased to present to you the first Annual Report from the Surveillance Camera Commissioner. This report covers the period from the appointment of the first Surveillance Camera Commissioner (on 13 September 2012). I am grateful to my predecessor Andrew Rennison who undertook the functions of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner until his departure in February 2014. Much of his work is reflected in the body of the report and he has kindly attached an open letter which follows this Foreword.

“I intend to ensure that the Surveillance Camera Code of Practice (PoFA Code) is promoted to relevant authorities under S33 (5) of the Protection of Freedoms Act so that they fully understand and fulfil their duty to have regard to the PoFA Code. I also intend to explore other opportunities to promote the PoFA Code to non-relevant authorities, thereby seeking voluntary adoption across a broad range of sectors.

“According to a survey conducted by the British Security Industry Association on the number of cameras in the UK (published in July 2013), just 1 in 70 of CCTV systems are state owned. This reinforces that a major part of my role is to reach out to others who use overt surveillance in public space – not solely relevant authorities. I will detail plans later in the report, but I have already met with universities and spoken to some residential social landlords and the British Retail Consortium and will continue to reach out to others to whom the PoFA Code is applicable.

“The use of CCTV in domestic environments continues to cause concern among the public and is a high generator of complaints across various agencies. With a view to showing leadership in the sector, I have said publicly that I intend to explore ways of working with manufacturers, retailers, installers, consumers and the Information Commissioner’s Office to impart the principles of the PoFA Code.

“That said, there remains much to do to achieve that goal. I have worked with some relevant authorities, particularly public space CCTV managers in local authorities that show enormous enterprise in adopting the principles within the PoFA Code. However, it has been brought to our attention that the application of the PoFA Code is not consistent throughout all relevant authorities. We have been made aware of instances where some traffic enforcement officers, often using the same cameras as those used to deliver crime and disorder reduction strategies, do not deliver the same level of compliance to the PoFA Code. Accordingly, where dual use CCTV Operations Rooms are in use I intend to raise the obligations within the PoFA Code to encourage compliance.

“There remain a large number of surveillance camera system users who are not under a duty to have regard to the PoFA Code. By focusing on the larger scale operators via seminars, webinars and personal engagement, I intend to raise the profile of the PoFA Code. My aim is to secure voluntary adoption and achieve surveillance by consent across the broadest range of organisations.

“Application of the PoFA Code not only delivers benefits to society in terms of privacy, security of public safety, transparency and reassurance but also benefits business through better performance and cost reduction. This will be my mantra going forward.”

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RUSI set to launch Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has announced the creation of a new Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies. The Centre will focus on the fields of financial crime, threat finance and financial intelligence.

Organised crime costs the United Kingdom no less than £24 billion per annum. Along with the impact of financial crime on the UK from both domestic and international sources, tackling threat finance is also a key security priority of the UK and international community (as illustrated by the efforts being undertaken to undermine the financial capabilities of ISIS).

In all of this work, partnership engagement between the public and private sectors can significantly enhance efforts in this field.

Commenting on the announcement, Professor Michael Clarke (RUSI’s director general) said: “The Centre is another example of RUSI being at the cutting edge of research on security issues. We add analytical value to policy studies. This new Centre will be a critical link between finance and Government and I welcome Tom Keatinge to the Institute. His experience will further strengthen our expertise on terrorism, organised crime and cyber security.”

Keatinge, who will head up the new Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, is a former managing director in the Financial Institutions Group and head of European public sector client coverage at JP Morgan.

Professor Michael Clarke: director general at RUSI

Professor Michael Clarke: director general at RUSI

Understanding of criminal threats

Donald Toon, director of the Economic Crime Command at the National Crime Agency, said: “Strong academic research can add substantially to our understanding of criminal threats and help shape an effective response from law enforcement, regulators and the private sector alike. I very much welcome this initiative from RUSI which promises to provide a focal point for research into the problems around financial crime.”

John Cusack, global head of financial crime compliance at Standard Chartered, added: “I’m delighted that RUSI has decided to establish a new Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies. The Centre is set to provide valuable contributions and be seen as a credible partner for all in the private or public sectors who wish to advance the debate and contribute to improving the effectiveness and efficiency around financial crime solving.”

Matthew Allen, director of financial crime at the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), commented: “A key part of identifying and stopping crime networks centres on understanding how they operate. This new Centre will provide the sort of vital insight that can help target responses and close in on the criminals. The BBA looks forward to working closely with RUSI on this initiative in order to help protect customers and ensure a safe financial system.”

Much-needed research focus

Based at RUSI, the Centre will comprise a dedicated team recruited from across finance, law enforcement and academia. The formal launch takes place at an event in the New Year.

The Centre will be based within the National Security and Resilience Studies Group at RUSI.

“The Centre will bring much-needed research focus and capacity to support the work of Her Majesty’s Government, other international Governmental partners and the private sector in addressing the challenges posed by financial crime and illicit finance in all of its forms,” explained Tom Keatinge.

*RUSI is an independent Think Tank for defence and security. A unique institution founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, the organisation embodies nearly two centuries of forward-thinking, free discussion and careful reflection on defence and security matters

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MPs unite behind counter-terror legislation amendment opposing Temporary Exclusion Orders

Following the introduction of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill by Home Secretary Theresa May, a cross-party amendment has now been tabled opposing the Government’s proposed Temporary Exclusion Orders.

According to fundamental rights and freedoms concern Liberty, Temporary Exclusion Orders (TEOs) would effectively exile British citizens by revoking their passports when outside of the UK and risk exposing them to torture or possibly delivering them into the hands of terror factions.

The proposed amendment to the Bill, drafted by Liberty, would replace TEOs with a Notification and Managed Return Order (NMRO). These would allow the Home Secretary to require airlines and other carriers to notify her of the return plans of those whom she suspected of terrorism abroad. The authorities could then use their existing powers against a suspect when they return to the UK.

Crucially, the Home Secretary would not have the power to revoke passports while individuals are outside of the country.

Shami Chakrabarti: director of Liberty

Shami Chakrabarti: director of Liberty

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, commented: “Instead of abandoning British citizens abroad to the possibility of torture or further radicalisation, shouldn’t we deal with them within the rule of law? This amendment would put some much-needed common sense into this counter-productive and illiberal Bill. We urge Parliamentarians to support it.”

The amendment is supported by the Labour Party’s front bench and the Green Party.

TEOs – and Liberty’s suggested amendment – were debated on the Second Day of Committee Stage of the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill on Monday 15 December.

Speaking out against the Government’s proposals

A number of MPs have already spoken out against the Home Secretary’s proposals.

At Second Reading, Sir Menzies Campbell MP said: “I confess that I’m by no means convinced of the legality of what is being suggested under TEOs. What’s the position of someone who declines to accept conditions of return and who is not subject to deportation by the country in which they temporarily find themselves? Are they not de facto stateless in such circumstances?”

Also during Second Reading, former Attorney General Dominic Grieve QC MP pointed out: “It’s a fundamental principle of the common law in this country that an individual, unconvicted – the presumption of innocence applies – should be free to reside in his or her own land. The principle of exile, as a judicial or even administrative tool, has not been tolerated in this country since the late 17th Century. Even if exclusion is on a temporary basis, what’s being proposed is a draconian and unusual power being taken by the State. The point has been made that the proposal could be in breach of our international legal obligations by rendering a person stateless.”

Chris Bryant MP said: “TEOs would, in effect, result in the exile – albeit short-term and temporary – of British citizens, in many cases to other countries. All history suggests that such action further radicalises people and makes them more dangerous enemies to this country.”

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“RIPA not fit for purpose” states Home Affairs Select Committee

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000 – the legislation governing communications data – “needs a complete overhaul”. That’s the conclusion of the latest Home Affairs Select Committee report.

The Home Affairs Select Committee acknowledges the operational need for secrecy both during investigations and afterwards (so that investigative techniques more broadly are not disclosed). However, there has to be proper oversight and scrutiny. The Committee recommends that the Home Office uses the current review of the RIPA Code to ensure that law enforcement agencies discharge their RIPA powers properly.

The Committee noted that the Rt Hon Sir Paul Kennedy, the Interception of Communications Commissioner, launched an inquiry in October 2014 to determine whether the acquisition of communications data had been used to identify journalistic sources. He wrote to all chief constables and directed them, under Section 58(1) of RIPA, to provide him with details of all investigations that had used powers under Chapter 2 of Part I of RIPA to acquire communications data to identify journalistic sources. His office will undertake a full inquiry into these matters, report the findings to the Prime Minister and then publish them.

The Committee believes all local police forces must communicate openly and efficiently with the Commissioner regarding the information they give him about their work. The Committee considers that IOCCO should be given further resources to carry out its job in an effective and timely manner, particularly in respect of its inquiry into the use of RIPA powers regarding journalistic sources.

Keith Vaz MP: chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee

Keith Vaz MP: chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee

Updated Code of Practice

The Communications Data Code of Practice was drafted eight years ago and, unlike the interception or the Surveillance Code which were recently updated, contains no advice on dealing with professions that handle privileged information nor any guidelines on the use of confidential helplines.

The Committee notes Sir Paul’s recommendation to the Home Office concerning the need for improvements to the statistical requirements in the RIPA Code of Practice. It’s vital that the statistical requirements are enhanced so that the public can be better informed about the use which public authorities make of communications data.

On 15 October this year, the Home Secretary Theresa May announced that the Home Office was conducting a review of the use of RIPA in response to concerns over its deployment to access journalists’ phone records. The Government has stated that a revised Code will be published in draft form “this autumn” and will be subject to public consultation. With only 26 days until the New Year, the Home Affairs Select Committee has stated that the Home Office has failed to meet its own timetable.

Keith Vaz MP, chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: “RIPA is not fit for purpose. We were astonished that law enforcement agencies failed to routinely record the professions of individuals who have had their communications data accessed under the legislation. Using RIPA to access the telephone records of journalists is wrong and this practice must cease. The inevitable consequence is that this deters whistle-blowers from coming forward.”

Vaz continued: “The recording of information under RIPA is lamentably poor. The whole process appears secretive and disorganised without proper monitoring of what is being destroyed and what’s being retained. We’re concerned that the level of secrecy surrounding the use of RIPA allows investigating authorities to engage in acts which would be unacceptable in a democracy with inadequate oversight.”

Home Secretary Theresa May

Home Secretary Theresa May

In conclusion, Vaz explained: “The Home Office has failed to publish its review within its own timetable, and not for the first time. It should hold a full public consultation on an amended RIPA Code of Practice. Any updated advice should contain special provisions for dealing with privileged information such as journalistic material and material subject to legal privilege. It’s vital that the Home Office uses the current review of the RIPA Code to ensure that law enforcement agencies discharge their RIPA powers properly.”

Response from Liberty and Big Brother Watch

Responding to the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report on RIPA, Isabella Sankey – director of policy for Liberty – said: “The secret use of RIPA to investigate journalists’ sources will chill anyone who values free speech and a free press, but what’s really disturbing is that the abuses detailed in this damning report are the tip of the iceberg. Records about your phone calls and e-mails build up an incredibly detailed data picture of every single one of us – who we are, where we go and what we do.”

Sankey added: “We urgently need safeguards to stop this valuable data being accessed without judicial warrant. What we’re getting is the Government handing itself even more powers to snoop in the form of the ill-targeted Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill.”

Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch, said: “When a senior Parliamentary Committee says that the current legislation is not fit for purpose then this simply cannot be ignored. It’s now abundantly clear that the law is out of date, the oversight is weak and the recording of how the powers enshrined in RIPA are used is patchy at best. The public is right to expect better.”

Emma Carr: leader of Big Brother Watch

Emma Carr: director of Big Brother Watch

Carr continued: “The conclusion of the Committee that the level of secrecy surrounding the use of these powers is permitting investigations that are deemed ‘unacceptable in a democracy’ should make the defenders of these powers sit up and take notice. At present, the inadequacy and inconsistency of the records being kept by public authorities regarding the use of these powers is woefully inadequate. New laws would not be required to correct this.”

Big Brother Watch’s director said: “While this report concentrates on targeting journalists, it’s important to remember that thousands of members of the public have also been snooped on, with little opportunity for redress. If the police fail to use the existing powers correctly then it’s completely irresponsible for the Home Office to be planning on increasing those powers. Failure by the Government to address these serious points means we can already know that there will be many more innocent members of the public who will be wrongly spied on and accused. This is intolerable.”

Watch a video of Emma Carr being interviewed on this issue by BBC News:

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Home Secretary Theresa May introduces Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill

Home Secretary Theresa May has introduced “urgently-needed legislation” which will give the UK some of the toughest powers in the world to tackle the increasing threat from international terrorism.

According to the Home Office, the all-new Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill will bolster the UK’s already considerable armoury of powers to disrupt the ability of people to travel abroad to fight, reduce the risks they pose on their return and combat the underlying ideology that feeds, supports and sanctions terrorism.

The collapse of Syria, the emergence of ISIL and ongoing instability in Iraq present significant dangers not just in the Middle East but also in Britain and across the West. Many of the 500 British citizens who have travelled to Syria and Iraq have joined terrorist organisations alongside foreign fighters from Europe and further afield.

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

The Bill, which will be enacted at the earliest opportunity, will disrupt those intending to travel by:

*Providing the police with a temporary power to seize a passport at the border from individuals of concern

*Creating a Temporary Exclusion Order that will control the return to the UK of a British citizen suspected of involvement in terrorist activity abroad

*Enhancing the UK’s border security by toughening transport security arrangements around passenger data, ‘No fly’ lists and screening measures

Enhancement of existing terrorism prevention and investigation measures

To deal with those returning to or already in the UK, the Government is:

*Enhancing existing terrorism prevention and investigation measures, including the introduction of stronger locational constraints and a power requiring individuals to attend meetings with the authorities as part of their ongoing management

To support those at serious risk of succumbing to radicalisation, the Government is:

*Creating a general duty on a range of bodies to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism

*Putting Channel – the voluntary programme for people at risk of radicalisation – on a statutory basis

To help disrupt the wider activities of these terrorist organisations, the Bill is:

*Enhancing vital investigative powers by requiring communications service providers to retain additional information in order to attribute an Internet Protocol address to a specific individual

*Amending existing law to ensure that UK-based insurance firms cannot reimburse the payment of terrorist ransoms

Use of these powers – which are consistent with all of the UK’s existing international legal obligations – will be subject to stringent safeguards. These include appropriate legal thresholds, judicial oversight of certain measures and a power to create a Privacy and Civil Liberties Board designed to support the work of David Anderson QC, the current Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Legislation.

Removal of terrorism-related material

The Bill will sit alongside the existing range of tools already used extensively to combat the terrorist threat, including powers to withdraw the passports of British citizens, bar foreign nationals from re-entering the UK and strip British citizenship from those who have dual nationality.

The Government is also working with the Internet industry to remove terrorist material hosted in the UK or overseas. Since February 2010, the Counter-Terrorism Internet Referral Unit has taken down more than 65,000 pieces of unlawful terrorist-related content.

Speaking about the new Bill, Home Secretary Theresa May said: “We’re in the middle of a generational struggle against a deadly terrorist ideology. These powers are essential to keep up with the very serious and rapidly changing threats we face. In an open and free society, we can never entirely eliminate the threat from terrorism but we must do everything possible in line with our shared values to reduce the risks posed by our enemies.”

The Home Secretary added: “This Bill includes a considered and targeted set of proposals that will help to keep us safe at a time of very significant danger by ensuring we have the powers we need to defend ourselves.”

Shami Chakrabarti: director of Liberty

Shami Chakrabarti: director of Liberty

Responding to the Home Secretary’s announcement that the Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill will oblige Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to retain information linking IP addresses with individual users, Liberty’s director Shami Chakrabarti commented: “There’s no problem with the targeted investigation of terrorist suspects, including where required the linking of apparently anonymous communications to a particular person. However, every Government proposal of the last so many years has been about blanket sur‎veillance of the entire population. The Snowden revelations demonstrate that they were even prepared to act outside the law and without Parliamentary consent. Forgive us if we look for the devil in the detail of this new Bill.”

Big Brother Watch director Emma Carr added: “There are key issues to be addressed with these IP-based proposals. For example, there are questions over whether or not this will be technically feasible. Proper safeguards must be introduced to ensure that these techniques are used transparently, that there’s a proper level of authorisation and that the oversight and redress mechanisms can function effectively. Also, if such a measure is introduced, time should then be allowed to ensure that its effectiveness in relation to law enforcement investigations can be evaluated with due care and transparency.”

Disruption of terrorist attacks

The National Policing Lead for Counter-Terrorism is Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley of the Metropolitan Police Service. As far as he’s concerned, countering terrorism has for too long been thought of as the sole preserve of the police service, the security agencies and the Government.

Rowley is calling for people and businesses to be prepared to play their part in keeping the country safe. He said: “The danger posed by violent extremists has evolved. They are no longer a problem solely stemming from countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, far away in the minds of the public. Now, they are home-grown in our communities, radicalised by images and messages they read on social media and prepared to kill for their cause. The tragic murder of Lee Rigby last year was a stark warning to us all about how real and local the threat really is.”

Rowley continued: “Police officers and our partners are continuing to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to protect the UK from a terrorist attack. So far this year we’ve disrupted several attack plots and made 271 arrests following counter-terrorism investigations, but the eyes and ears of law enforcement and other agencies alone cannot combat the threat.”

The UK’s counter-terrorism strategy CONTEST focuses on four key areas: Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prepare. Most of the publicity around terrorism is based on Pursue and Prevent, as these involve arrests, the disrupting of actual attack plots and turning people away from extremism.

AC Rowley is keen to stress that everyone can be doing more to Protect and Prepare, ensuring security in crowded places, the monitoring of our borders and being ready to respond to a terrorist attack.

“We don’t want to scare people, but we do want them to understand the threat and be vigilant to things that are out of place or suspicious and report it to the police. We need businesses to check that their security measures are effective and train their staff to detect potential threats and, if necessary, respond to an attack.”

Metropolitan Police Service Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley

Metropolitan Police Service Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley

AC Rowley also stated: “Experience shows us that terrorists target busy, well-populated places to ensure that attacks have a maximum impact. Businesses, particularly those in crowded places, have an invaluable role to play in our fight against terrorists, violent extremists and other criminals. Their staff are often the first people to spot signs that something is wrong.”

The police regularly hold security events with businesses, and the Metropolitan Police Service alone gave 29 presentations during 2013 and 2014.

Since the UK terror threat level increased on 29 August, reports of suspicious behaviour have nearly doubled. This is a direct result of reporting by members of the public, and every one of those reports is investigated.

However, AC Rowley wants more members of the public to have confidence in reporting their suspicions. “Please tell us if you know or suspect something,” he urged. “Your information could save lives. We will deal carefully with all of the information passed to us and respond sensitively and proportionately.”

*The Counter-Terrorism and Security Bill is the seventh major counter-terrorism law introduced in Britain since 9/11. The Bill can be accessed here

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Home Secretary praises National Crime Agency on organisation’s first anniversary

During its first year of operation, the National Crime Agency has “broken new ground in the fight against serious and organised crime” and received due praise from Home Secretary Theresa May for doing so.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy – which was also launched on 7 October 2013 – represent a step change in the Government’s approach to combating serious and organised crime, which is estimated to cost the UK at least £24 billion per annum.

“The National Crime Agency has achieved a great deal in its first year of operation,” stated Theresa May. “Through its close partnership with law enforcement agencies both at home and overseas, the NCA is demonstrating that no-one is beyond its reach.”

The NCA has broken new ground in its investigation of serious and organised crime offences right across the spectrum, including in the area of modern slavery. In its first six months, the organisation achieved over 500 disruptions against serious and organised criminals and secured 300 convictions.

The NCA also co-ordinated a national operation tackling the sharing of child abuse images online. To date, this element of its investigations has resulted in over 600 arrests.

In addition, the NCA has led an international operation designed to tackle malware used for cyber crime and, in parallel, published the National Strategic Assessment – the most authoritative evaluation of the threat to the UK ever put in print.

The National Crime Agency has achieved much in its first year of operation

The National Crime Agency has achieved much in its first year of operation

The NCA is collaborating more closely than ever with law enforcement partners such as HMRC and police forces. Meanwhile, Regional Organised Crime Units (ROCUs) have been strengthened so as to maintain a sophisticated and cohesive regional response to organised crime.

“Now, the NCA needs to build on its strong start and get ahead of the threat,” added the Home Secretary. “This means it must continue to work with a broad range of partners in order to build the best possible intelligence picture and use all of the tools available to disrupt and, importantly, prosecute organised criminals.”

Introduction of the Serious Crime Bill

The new Serious and Organised Crime Strategy is based on the successful framework used for counter-terrorism – Pursue, Prevent, Protect and Prepare – and sets out a comprehensive, detailed cross-Government approach.

As part of this work, the Government has introduced a Serious Crime Bill to ensure that the NCA, the police service and others have the powers they need at their disposal. Measures include the new offence of participation in an organised crime group which targets corrupt lawyers, accountants and other professionals who’ve tried to evade justice by hiding behind a veneer of respectability.

The Government is also building on its success in seizing criminal assets. Over the last four years, around £750 million has been recovered, £93 million returned to victims and in excess of £2.5 billion frozen to put it beyond the reach of criminals.

Measures in the Serious Crime Bill will close loopholes used by criminals to avoid confiscation orders. For example, some criminals attempt to hide money by giving it to third parties such as spouses and associates.

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

The Government is committed to working with partners in other European countries – among them Europol and Interpol and also organisations across the private sector – to ensure the UK can act decisively beyond its own borders.

Back in April, the Home Office established a Financial Sector Forum to encourage better information sharing between the Government, law enforcement agencies and the financial services sector and improve the overall response to financial crime.

Tackling the cyber threat

The Government is improving its response to cyber threats by acquiring new technologies and capabilities. For instance, an investment of £860 million is being made over five years through the National Cyber Security Programme. So far, the Home Office has allocated £70 million of that sum to improve law enforcement cyber capabilities.

Last year, the Home Office provided an additional £10 million of funding to the ROCUs, in turn leading to new capabilities that better handle intelligence, protect witnesses and tackle cyber crime and fraud. Further new investments are being made before the end of the year.

“This Government,” continued Theresa May, “has demonstrated considerable progress in the fight against serious and organised crime. After too many years in which organised criminal gangs, their members and their associates ‘got away with it’, we are now sending the clearest possible message. Whoever you are and wherever you are, if you’re involved in organised crime then we will come after you, we will find you, we will prosecute you and we will punish you.”

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Home Secretary announces intention to merge blue light services

The need for further public sector spending cuts by the Government will mean integrating the police, fire and ambulance services such that the ‘still large fiscal deficit’ can be reduced, Home Secretary Theresa May has announced.

In a speech made at Think Tank Reform on 3 September, the Home Secretary stated: “With a still large deficit and a record stock of debt, there will need to be further spending cuts. In the policing landscape of the future, I believe we will need to work towards the integration of the three emergency services.”

May said that the next and “even tougher” challenge is “how we can reduce demand for public services through smarter policy. The need to go on reforming will not end with this Parliament.”

It’s thought that while front line services may not change, there could be ways in which to share back office functions and be located on the same site.

Some localities have already started to merge services. Theresa May referred to Northamptonshire, where Police and Crime Commissioner Adam Simmonds has launched joint operations planning teams involving both the police and fire services. Indeed, Simmonds has been a great supporter of integration and has spoken about the future possibility of sending just one emergency vehicle to the scene of an accident which would be equipped to deal with a variety of situations.

Earlier this year, (then) fire minister Brandon Lewis outlined some examples of where plans to share blue light services have been put in place in order to save money. These included a predicted saving of £4 million in Hampshire where the police service, fire service and Hampshire County Council are sharing offices and a potential £3.5 million saving in Merseyside, where the fire and police services are planning to share a Control Room.

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

Home Secretary Theresa May MP

Cautious but firm approach needed

In an editorial following the Home Secretary’s announcement, The Guardian reported: “Although there are many successful examples of local collaboration – fire officers administering emergency First Aid, or police travelling in the same vehicle as firemen – the prospect of real integration sheds a cold light on existing management structures. The ambulance service has been (painfully) consolidated into ten regional trusts which would not lightly be levered out of the NHS in the name of integration. However, there are still 43 resolutely unconsolidated police services and 46 fire and rescue services, with 46 different governance, organisational and operational structures. While deaths from fire in the home are, happily, at a record low, the number of fire-fighters and the cost of running the fire service remains the same.”

Graham Ellicott, CEO of the Fire Industry Association (FIA), commented: “Any integration or consolidation of the blue light services will undoubtedly be difficult and a cautious but firm approach will likely be needed. However, before any approach is attempted the FIA believes that it would be prudent to try and bring more consistency to the operation of English Fire and Rescue Services.”

Graham Ellicott: CEO at the FIA

Graham Ellicott: CEO at the FIA

Elaborating on this last point, Ellicott explained: “For example, each of the 46 services operates a different attendance policy when it comes to automatic fire alarm systems. Surely in the 21st Century there could be more consistency brought to this situation, particularly so given that Primary Authority Schemes have now been extended to fire. Such schemes offer assured advice from one Fire and Rescue Authority to a business that operates across more than one local authority area.”

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