Tuesday, 3 March 2009

ACPO Probed

Inquiry into police chiefs' £18m-a-year private 'firm'

First published 28th February 2009

ACPO

Under scrutiny: ACPO is facing demands for reform

The Home Office has launched an internal inquiry into its funding of Britain's most powerful policing body, the Association of Chief Police Officers, after The Mail on Sunday disclosed it was being run as a private business earning £18million a year.

Officials at all major departments have been asked to draw up a detailed list of what money they gave the organisation during the past three years.

The association, which advises the Government and oversees national police policy on everything from anti-terrorism to speed cameras, is facing demands for its reform.

Senior staff at the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism, the Crime Reduction and Community Safety Group, the UK Border Agency, the Police Reform Unit and the Serious Organised Crime Agency have been asked for a full breakdown of how much cash has been handed over.

Civil servants are said to be alarmed that the association has been given £32million from public funds in two years. And they are asking why the annual income from 'project' work for the police and Home Office has risen from £1.3million in 2005 to £15million.

They also want to know where millions of pounds kept in an association cash account comes from. The organisation has £15.8million in assets, including £9.2million 'cash at bank and in hand'.

The move comes after a Mail on Sunday investigation revealed it was selling information from the Police National Computer for up to £70 – even though it pays just 60p to access details.

It was also discovered that the organisation markets 'police approval' logos to firms selling anti-theft devices.

A Home Office spokeswoman said the move was not a 'review' and was being done 'for internal information'.

• The chief constable pipped at the post to become Metropolitan Police Commissioner is being tipped to take over as the £150,000-a-year president of the Association of Chief Police Officers. Sir Hugh Orde, 50, top policeman in Northern Ireland, has the backing of more than half of the UK's 44 police chiefs to take over in July.