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Techie1

Should national counter-terrorism responsibility be moved from the Met to the NCA?

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Techie1

Idea is not being ruled out at present.

nca-ct.jpg

Following the appointment of Cressida Dick as the new Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police speculation has turned to which issues take priority in her burgeoning in-tray.

One which the government has hinted previously could be removed from the force is national responsibility for coordinating counter-terrorism.

The Home Affairs Select Committee has previously called for this change to happen, and although the government said in 2015 it would not imminently change anything, the Home Office is currently not ruling out such a change.

Terrorism analyst Dr Dave Sloggett was formerly opposed to the idea of transferring responsibility, but he now thinks there is a “good case” for it.

He said: “I was against the idea some time ago when the National Crime Agency was struggling. Since that time it has improved.

“When you consider the overlap which exists between terrorism and organised crime, you can see an emerging argument for the idea and that it should be given to ‘Britain’s FBI’.

“While Cressida Dick has expertise on terrorism, she actually has a very good understanding of the many challenges the Met faces other than terrorism, which is a national issue dealt with across the entire country, and which it could be better for a Commissioner to do without.”

But retired head of the National Counter Terrorism and Security Office Chris Phillips disagrees.

He told PoliceOracle.com: “We’ve got an arrangement under which things have worked for many years as they are, I can understand why they might want to change it, it’s a cross-border role, but the system we’ve got is tried and tested, we’ve had it in place for many years and we’ve not had a major terrorist attack for years.”

Former Thames Valley deputy chief constable Brian Langston said community relationships must be preserved, whatever the model.

He said: “Whilst shifting the responsibility for counter-terrorism to the National Crime Agency is worthy of serious consideration, it must be remembered that the seeds of terrorism often lie within disaffected communities.

“Misguided and vulnerable young people are often targeted for radicalisation and groomed to carry out acts of violent extremism.

“There would need to remain a strong bond between any national agency charged with this responsibility, and local neighbourhood teams to ensure that community intelligence is not lost. Terrorism is both a local and global issue."

When asked if changing the national responsibility for counter-terrorism to the National Crime Agency was on the agenda, a Home Office spokesman simply replied: “This government is committed to do doing everything we can to keep our families, communities and country safe, so will always look to ensure that collaboration between police and the agencies working on counter-terrorism and organised crime is as effective as possible."

Last week the NCA announced five new appointments to its leadership team including the hiring of Essex Deputy Chief Constable Matthew Horne as a deputy director and Merseyside Assistant Chief Nikki Holland as director of investigations.

Current deputy David Armond has announced his retirement from the organisation.

Read on Police Oracle

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Growley

Personally, my worry is that any transition will inevitably not go particularly smoothly, and this will lead to something getting through the net when it otherwise might not have done.

 

Our behind the scenes work in this country, coupled with our geographical advantages have done a great job in preventing countless threats, but we all know it's a matter of 'when' and not 'if'.

 

When the current system is working so well, I find it difficult to justify a move which may open up vulnerabilities during the transition.

 

 

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Jedi Knight

The other thing to consider as well is how would it work? Would loads of police officers have to move to the NCA? If they had what would happen to the ones that didn't want to move over there? A lot of skills would be lost

The way I see it is if it aint broke don't try to change anything.  The set up at the moment seems to be working quite well. We're never going to stop every attack but we seem to be stopping the majority of them so far.

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Policey_Man

In short.... yes. The Met are a local force and need to focus on local issues. The fact that they are restricting their applicants to local people / Londoners shows this is their priority. You'll get a lot of people arguing the case to remain for the status quo, but that is going to be people adverse to change and Met officers who don't want to lose some of the prestige of the organisation.

If NCA are to deal with national issues, then it only makes sense for them to be the lead organisation on all national issues. There is a lot of expertise within the Met on CT issues and they should be allowed to be seconded to the NCA if they don't want a permanent transfer.

In addition, moving CT to a national organisation would give all officers from across the country an opportunity to get more involved in CT work.... at present, you really need to be a Met officer to do a lot of CT stuff, given that it's hosted within the Met. We're probably therefore losing out on a lot of talented individuals who are in county forces who might be very good in the CT world, but yet they  can't apply to the Met because they aren't Londoners. If responsibility was moved to the NCA, then counties officers would have to apply for secondments and be able to compete with Met officers in equal fashion. People could go on secondment for a few years and then return back to the counties with better skills and knowledge, which in turns helps increase CT capacity in the counties.

Edited by Policey_Man
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NCFPA
In short.... yes. The Met are a local force and need to focus on local issues. The fact that they are restricting their applicants to local people / Londoners shows this is their priority. You'll get a lot of people arguing the case to remain for the status quo, but that is going to be people adverse to change and Met officers who don't want to lose some of the prestige of the organisation.
If NCA are to deal with national issues, then it only makes sense for them to be the lead organisation on all national issues. There is a lot of expertise within the Met on CT issues and they should be allowed to be seconded to the NCA if they don't want a permanent transfer.
In addition, moving CT to a national organisation would give all officers from across the country an opportunity to get more involved in CT work.... at present, you really need to be a Met officer to do a lot of CT stuff, given that it's hosted within the Met. We're probably therefore losing out on a lot of talented individuals who are in county forces who might be very good in the CT world, but yet they  can't apply to the Met because they aren't Londoners. If responsibility was moved to the NCA, then counties officers would have to apply for secondments and be able to compete with Met officers in equal fashion. People could go on secondment for a few years and then return back to the counties with better skills and knowledge, which in turns helps increase CT capacity in the counties.


Do we really want to be conducting national changes in terms of proactive and reactive CT investigative work when the current threat is so high? I say no.


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Policey_Man
23 minutes ago, NCFPA said:

Do we really want to be conducting national changes in terms of proactive and reactive CT investigative work when the current threat is so high? I say no.

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If not now, when?

I can't see a time when the threat is going to decrease. There will never be a 'good time' to make the change. Arguably, if the CT functions can be better staffed, with better oversight and located in a more suitable organisation with better links to related operations, it can only make the CT function stronger, not weaker?

There has been major changes over the years with CT stuff on a regular basis. The transition into a SO15  Counter Terrorism Command from Special Branch. The various mergers and things being moved around in the Met. Changes of divisional commanders and other leaders. Changes within the Home Office, even changes in Government. The abolishment of ACPO who managed ACPO TAM.  Lots of other stuff too.

Change of 'owning organisation' doesn't have to stop day to day business if planned properly.

Edited by Policey_Man
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NCFPA
If not now, when?
I can't see a time when the threat is going to decrease. There will never be a 'good time' to make the change. Arguably, if the CT functions can be better staffed, with better oversight and located in a more suitable organisation with better links to related operations, it can only make the CT function stronger, not weaker?
There has been major changes over the years with CT stuff on a regular basis. The transition into a SO15  Counter Terrorism Command from Special Branch. The various mergers and things being moved around in the Met. Changes of divisional commanders and other leaders. Changes within the Home Office, even changes in Government. The abolishment of ACPO who managed ACPO TAM.  Lots of other stuff too.
Change of 'owning organisation' doesn't have to stop day to day business if planned properly.


Planned properly? The Met? Wake up!

Met should remain the host for all national CT matters, but I agree that there is scope for the NCA to resume responsibility in the future but for the next 5 years I cannot see it feasible. I think the complete priority should be on investigating not transferring responsibilities.


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Policey_Man
1 hour ago, NCFPA said:

Planned properly? The Met? Wake up!

Met should remain the host for all national CT matters, but I agree that there is scope for the NCA to resume responsibility in the future but for the next 5 years I cannot see it feasible. I think the complete priority should be on investigating not transferring responsibilities.

 

 

But the Met wouldn't be doing the planning would they, the NCA would presumably doing more of the planning and taking the lead role as they'd be the ones with on-going responsibilities to get it right long term. Let's not judge this based on the Met's poor record of organisational change and planning.

In addition, if there was a transition, they wouldn't be taking officers off of CT investigations to plan... it's not going to be take 20 PC's off of surveillance to plan the office moves.... There'd be a separate transition team established, so that makes your point of priorities irrelevant.

Why do you think that the Met should remain host for national CT matters?

Edited by Policey_Man

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Growley
You'll get a lot of people arguing the case to remain for the status quo, but that is going to be people adverse to change and Met officers who don't want to lose some of the prestige of the organisation.


Nonsense. You can't write legitimate problems off like that.

It's not about being adverse to change, it's about the very real problem of handing a job of this magnitude over, and the likely fallout this can cause.

Besides, it's not like SO15 would be going anywhere, they'd just be dealing with it on a more local basis.

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Policey_Man
Just now, Growley said:

Besides, it's not like SO15 would be going anywhere, they'd just be dealing with it on a more local basis.

But that's the point isn't it, the Met is a local force. Just like Essex Police look after Essex or Kent Police look after Kent, the Met should be looking after London. Not the whole of the UK.

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Remmy

There will never be a good time to do this, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't do it!

There will be pro's and con's for both keeping the status quo or reforming how terrorism is combated within the UK. However that is the single biggest reason to review and perhaps give responsibility to the NCA, it is a UK issue not a Met issue.

All the concerns I have read thus far are not convincing arguments for the Met retaining responsibility. Of course there will be short to medium term problems, but I don't think anyone is suggesting the transition should be done overnight. I would imagine a feasibility study has already been completed at some level and issues readers have identified will surely be highlighted and any problems negated or mitigated. 

I still have an open mind regarding what is best but based on my experience of local forces sharing intelligence or rather the failure to share intelligence on cross border issues, I think it's certainly worthwhile reviewing what is best for the safety of the nation in the long term. 

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Techie1

 

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Cathedral Bobby

I think there are benefits from a single agency having overall responsibility for communication, intelligence, strategy, and resourcing. Also moving out of the Met reduces the opportunity for political interference which the Met seems to be subject to more than its fair share. I also agree that this will open up more opportunities for officers from other forces over time. What mustn't happen is that any changes be rushed through. It needs planning and perhaps should be considered with some wider policing responsibilities, eg the suggestion of a national infrastructure force proving armed response capability to attacks etc. It would make sense for its headquarters to be in London giving opportunity for current officers to provide the initial backbone of the organisation. Those who do not wish to leave the Met could be seconded until new longer term appointments are made, thereby ensuring no brain-drain takes place.

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Growley
But that's the point isn't it, the Met is a local force. Just like Essex Police look after Essex or Kent Police look after Kent, the Met should be looking after London. Not the whole of the UK.

It is a local force, but a force which covers some of the most important targets in the country, and already has established information channels to do the job they're doing. I don't think simply saying 'it's a local force' is particularly compelling when national responsibilities have been handled successfully for some time.

That's obviously not to say the NCA couldn't also do it, but the fact it's a national organisation seems like the only argument for it.

At the end of the day, it's probably on the cards and I expect it to happen, but your false dichotomy, that the only people against the idea are either adverse to change or losing some of the prestigious nature of the Met, is a load of nonsense; and the fact the NCA is a national body doesn't automatically mean it's likely to do a better job of it.

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Growley
34 minutes ago, Cathedral Bobby said:

I think there are benefits from a single agency having overall responsibility for communication, intelligence, strategy, and resourcing. Also moving out of the Met reduces the opportunity for political interference which the Met seems to be subject to more than its fair share.

The NCA are equally subject to political scrutiny. It wasn't so long ago that Parliament were effectively complaining the NCA wasn't making enough money back.

The government are going to have their fingers in every pie available to them, especially one which was only brought into being a short time ago.

Edited by Growley
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