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Clause 4 - Relationships between NCA and other agencies: tasking etc

Part of Crime and Courts Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:45 pm on 24th January 2013.

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Photo of Jeremy Browne Jeremy Browne The Minister of State, Home Department 12:45 pm, 24th January 2013

My hon. Friend makes an entirely valid point, although we are on quite hypothetical territory. I cannot really understand why a police force would not wish to have the extra capacity and expertise that the NCA will provide. He has perhaps cited the least good example, as he represents in his constituency the police force with the greatest capacity in the United Kingdom.

Smaller, rural police forces have limited capacity to fight serious and organised crime because, luckily for them, there is little organised crime in their force areas. They have fairly modest budgets and fairly limited expertise. They will work with the NCA, perhaps on a wider project when part of a crime gang is touching on their force area. In such cases, they will have their capacity greatly enhanced to the benefit of local people who pay their precept towards the police. Although notionally, in accountancy terms, free, people will also be paying for the NCA through their taxes at the same time and will be beneficiaries from it.

On the freedom of information point, it is proposed that the NCA be exempt in respect of freedom of information provisions. As for information held by PCCs, my understanding is that there might be circumstances in which freedom of information would apply, but because there are exemptions under the FOI Act, police and crime commissioners could appeal under the exemption provisions under the Act if they were being required to publish information that was operationally sensitive in the detection of serious and organised crime.