Police chiefs' association accused of profiteering

The private organisation representing Britain's top police officers faced demands last night for reform – or even disbanding – over allegations that it was being run as a business with a multi-million-pound budget relying heavily on public funds.

Civil liberties campaigners and opposition politicians called for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to be "stopped in its tracks" amid growing concerns over its burgeoning powers.

ACPO, a private company, is paid millions of pounds a year by the taxpayer to, in effect, run the nation's police forces. It has been viewed as providing a vital public service in writing the rules on police operations, advising ministers, and campaigning on issues such as the proposed 90-day detention of terror suspects and the DNA database.

But a newspaper investigation has raised concerns over "profit-making" activities, including selling information from the police national computer for up to £70 a time – when ACPO pays just 60p for the details.

The organisation also markets "police approval" logos to firms selling anti-theft devices and runs a separate private firm offering training to speed-camera operators.

ACPO, set up in 1997 to replace an informal network of police chiefs who decided national policies, is headed by former Sussex Chief Constable Sir Ken Jones, who earns £138,702 a year. In the past two years its influence and public role has expanded and its annual income from "project" work for the police and the Home Office has risen to £15m, from £1.3m in 2005. But its growth has taken place without any parliamentary debate or public scrutiny, and its decisions are largely taken in secret.

Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the civil rights group Liberty, questioned whether ACPO's role as a company with increasing national powers was legal. "ACPO is many things," she said. "It advises government, it sets policing policy, it campaigns for increased police powers, and now we learn it is engaged in commercial activities – all with a rather shady lack of accountability."

The shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, questioned ACPO's role. "Is it an external reference group for Home Office ministers or a professional association protecting senior officers' interests?" he asked. "Is it a national policing agency? Is it a pressure group arguing for greater police powers?"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity to...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Manager - Production

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Trainee Managers are required to join the UK's...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Manager

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss