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
Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
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 Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'