Thursday, 17 July 2014

ACPO Mk1 - R.I.P.

"The best leaders inspire by example. When that is not an option, brute intimidation works pretty well too"
So, it has finally come to pass, that ACPO will be no more...
Readers of these pages will know that we have not been the greatest fans of the ACPO boys club.
The Police Oracle this morning reports:-
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) will be scrapped and replaced with a new co-ordinating body following a ballot of senior officers.

In a statement following a three-week ballot of its membership, the Association said chief officers voted overwhelmingly in favour of the change following a review by General Sir Nick Parker.

The new body will be hosted in – but remain independent of – a lead police force.

An ACPO statement confirmed that just under 65 per cent of chief officers voted in the ballot. An implementation group is now addressing key issues such as developing an operating model, the process for electing a leader, future funding and a new name.

Progress over the change will be discussed at Chief Constables’ Council on July 17-18 and the Association will continue to provide national leadership until the new body is formed.

The statement added: “The coordinating body will help police cut crime and keep the public safe, by joining up the operational response to the most serious and strategic threats.

“Focusing on operational delivery and developing national approaches on issues such as finance, technology and human resources, it will work closely with the College of Policing, which is responsible for developing professional standards.”

The statement added that ACPO’s “core role” of co-ordinating operational policing and agreeing national approaches would be transferred into the new organisation.

The functions of the body will include co-ordination of national operations, delivery of counter terrorist policing and mobilising a national police response across borders.

It will also ensure operational delivery of standards and policy, working with the College of Policing on developing joint national approaches on areas such as criminal justice and human resources.

ACPO President Sir Hugh Orde said: “This is a very positive step and is to be welcomed.

“The Police Service needs its leaders to have a strong coordinating body to help ensure forces work together in the most efficient way possible to keep safe the citizens we serve.

“The change from our current arrangements to those which have been voted in by police leaders will ensure that the expertise of our chief officers is couched in a body which provides not only the best service for our forces but the best service and value for the public.”


The demise of ACPO will not be enough to start the restoration of confidence in the leadership as a group. There must be a definite change in culture if any successor organisation is not to be tainted with the same flaws.

As we approach the end of the ACPO MkI era we should remind ourselves of the challenges that will face ACPO MkII.

ACPO is a self-serving Lobby Group
Many of Labour’s policing laws that remain a legacy were effectively written by ACPO and designed to serve the interests of ACPO’s elite against the interests of the taxpayer. The Criminal Justice and Police Act (2001) is a prime example: under this legislation, ACPO staff—and remember ACPO is a private company—became entitled to expensive gold-plated civil service pension.

Their lobbying also extended to powergrabs: the Police and Justice Act (2006) mandates ACPO Ltd must be consulted prior to changes in certain police powers. The codes regarding PACE may only be modified with ACPO consultation.
ACPO has millions in cash at the bank and has an income of approximately £10 million per year. It has various commercial activities: it accredits burglar alarms, sells (and promotes) its own accreditation service for the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme and makes a profit each year in excess of £300,000 by holding an annual conference.

ACPO also has a sizeable property empire but refuses to say how large it is. It is known that a small subdivision of ACPO—the Terrorism & Allied Matters Committee—spent £1.3 million on luxury apartments for its members.
ACPO is highly political

Police officers are forbidden by law from joining a political party and diligently avoid accusations of political bias. The same cannot be said of Chief Police Officers and ACPO.
In an interview on Radio 4′s Today, the President of ACPO, Sir Hugh Orde, threatened to resign if Conservative Plans for elected Chief Constables became law.

In 2007, then-President of ACPO Ken Jones spoke out in support of the Government plans–opposed by the Conservatives–to increase precharge detention beyond 28 days.
This lead to the Conservatives writing in a private election note of ACPO giving “political cover to the Labour Government repeatedly and consistently” and engaging in “gratuitous photocalls” with Gordon Brown and other ministers. It goes on to say it “shows almost no criticism of the current Government”.
ACPO is a Secretive Private Company
ACPO president Sir Hugh Orde has acknowledged that its role as a private company was “uncomfortable” and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, the police watchdog, has said its ‘status as a private limited company ‘cannot continue’.

Despite receiving much public funding, responsible for senior appointments in quangos and helping the state draft legislation, ACPO is immune to Freedom of Information laws and is not bound by the usual rules of the civil service, despite receiving many of its perks.
ACPO using the Home Office and the media to deflect attention away from their own nefarious conduct, submitted a secret document to the Home Secretary suggesting, among forty-nine recommendations, that the pay and conditions of the federated ranks be dramatically slashed. 
ACPO that conveniently didn’t tell the Police Federation that they had submitted the document, leaving no opportunity to consult with the rank and file representative body. It was ACPO that met with the Police Federation and the Superintendents’ Association, pleading for unity to resist the Government’s plans for elected commissioners to replace police authorities – after they had submitted their plans. 
ACPO showed arrogant disregard for the welfare and views of the policing frontline, that they are out to protect their own individual interests before anyone else, including the front line officers and the general public they are supposed to serve. 
ACPO have apparently stated that they believed incentive bonuses to show reduced crime and increased detections to be divisive. Intriguing that the now disgraced police recorded crime statistics have not led to any officer handing back the bonuses paid out on the back of fiddled crime figures.(Despite the fact that many senior officers took bonuses without complaint for many years anyway!). If anyone should know the definition of the word 'devisive" it is those ACPO officers who have participated in this scurrilous, deceitful, secretive act of outright betrayal.
As a group, ACPO have shown that they cannot be trusted to stand alone as the authoritive voice of British policing. Any organisation that fails to listen to the views of its root and branch staff, those who experience the real problems and use their initiative to overcome them, is destined to lose the confidence of their 'customer', in this case the British public. 
Senior Officers and the rank and file must be reconciled as one service. It must not be acceptable that the Federation hear about important decisions from leaked documents or other sources. They must be a visible part of the process, not merely an afterthought. 
This will take a monumental shift of culture from the Chief Officers, to accept that this is an essential element in achieving reforms that will last. If they fail to do this, this Government and the next will spend its administration umpiring the contrary view of ACPO and the frontline.
ACPO as an organization has been on the ropes for too long, both financially and in terms of its integrity as a so called professional body. The rank and file have lost all confidence in them. The public and media mistrust them. Accusations of scurrilous disloyal conduct have been too many and too visible to ignore. The Coalition merely tolerated them. The Conservative Shadow cabinet under David Camerons direction accused ACPO of giving “political cover to the Labour Government repeatedly and consistently” and engaging in “gratuitous photocalls” with Gordon Brown and other ministers. It went on to say it “showed almost no criticism of the current Government”. 
If ACPO had been allowed to continue, despite their weak protestations to the contrary, the "Us and Them" culture would pervade and decimate the service. Many times this has been evidenced in the private sector, where powerful Governing bodies have been able to "divide and conquer" opposing views from organisations. The police service is no different. Whilst ACPO played the political game, (yet all the time insisting they want to rid the service of politicisation), every Government used the division between the ranks as a lever to extract what THEY want from the situation. Only when the division no longer exists and the service is once again united, will it regain its strength and bargaining power. 

It is totally right that the combined experience of police leadership should be utilised to add value and optimise the service provided to the public and the rank and file. However, any ACPO MkII must look to proactively avoid the horrendous historical mistakes of the past.
Will they resist the temptation to make those mistakes again? We won't hold our breath.

Some of our most popular ACPO articles:


Crime Analyst said...

Linked In..
Martin Palmer
Freelance Trainer

I am surprised that only 65% took the opportunity to vote on this matter. Does this mean that there are 35% who are not bothered one way or the other ?

Crime Analyst said...

Martin... My thoughts exactly. Symptomatic of the lethargy at leadership level. As you ask, it could mean that the 35% are not bothered, or worse, interested. Either of which is rather a damning indictment on police leadership as a group. Sadly, the unfavourable headlines have done considerable damage and may well carry over into the work of the successor. As I said on the blog, there needs to be a massive culture shift if confidence in police leadership is to be restored. Lord Dear expressed it well in an article I published on the site:-

"Not so long ago misconduct by a senior police officer was rare and newsworthy. Not Now".

Too many top-rank officers are in trouble in the courts and serious doubts are being cast about the trustworthiness of the service at all levels – the death of Ian Tomlinson at the G20 disturbances, Plebgate, phone-hacking, Hillsborough, the apparent politicisation of the Police Federation and so on. Certainly the police can point to falling crime rates and great success in preventing further terrorist attacks since 7/7, but their response too often appears to be disconnected from what the public expect.

The basic problem is leadership. The service has created, trained and promoted to its top ranks managers, rather than leaders. The roots of this go deep, certainly to a decision taken at the Police Staff College in the early 1990s to drop the focus on leadership on the grounds that it was “divisive and elitist” and concentrate instead on management. The police, like much of the public sector, remain preoccupied with the management ethic, ignoring the words of Viscount Slim p a noted leader in both the army and the commercial world – that “managers are necessary, leaders are essential”.

The result is a service that is too risk averse, frequently process driven and displays all the defensive attitudes of the besieged. Of course there are notable exceptions, but the picture among the senior ranks overall is depressing and getting worse".

If the service had more LEADERS we would have expected a welcome to improve their positioning. My fear is that all too few have the vision.

Steve Bennett
Retired West Midlands Officer

IPSG said...

The present Chief Executive of ACPO also holds another role with ACRO which he set up prior to his retirement from Hants Constabulary.
In addition to pension, he receives 50k for heading up ACRO and whatever he gets for being Chief Executive for ACRO.
It is a great club for setting up private little enterprises using the ACPO brand.
Julian Panayiotou ex DS Met and Hants

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