Chiefs hit back at plans to strip police of anti-terror powers
Home Affairs Committee wants the new National Crime Agency to take over terror command
CHIEF police officers have hit back at MPs who want to strip the Metropolitan Police of its counter-terrorism command.
The Home Affairs Committee published a report today, recommending that the force’s counter-terrorism command be moved to the National Crime Agency (NCA), which only became operational in October 2013.
The NCA took over responsibility for organised crime, border policing, economic crime, cyber crime and child protection. However, the UK's counter-terrorism command remained in the hands of Scotland Yard.
The Home Affairs Committee report said that the Met has “a wide remit which has many complexities and the current difficulties faced by the organisation lead us to believe that the responsibility for counter-terrorism ought to be moved to the NCA in order to allow the Met to focus on the basics of policing London”.
MPs want to see the command move to the NCA by 2018, with work on the transfer to begin immediately. This should “finally complete the jigsaw of the new landscape of policing”, it said.
But the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) says the decision “does not appear to be supported by the evidence” and is based on an “apparent misunderstanding” of the role played by the Met.
It explained that counter-terrorism policing is not directed through a single lead force but rather has responsibility vested in nine chief constables across the UK in areas where the threat is considered to be the greatest.
“These chief constables act collaboratively and effectively on behalf of all forces, while at the same time maintaining close and critical links into local policing,” it said in a statement to the BBC.
The Met also disagreed with the move.
Meanwhile, Sir David Omand, former GCHQ director and former UK security and intelligence co-ordinator, cautioned against replacing the current arrangement with a “theoretical structure that might look tidier on paper”, at least until the threat of terrorism has “significantly” diminished and the NCA has “established itself firmly as being on the top of its game in relation to serious organised criminality”. ·