Home Office circular 014/2011
Dennis Wilmer 020 7035 1786
Chief officers of police Police authority chief executives
- This circular advises recipients of the commencement on 16 January 2012 of the police collaboration provisions in the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (‘the 2011 Act’). The provisions will be commenced by virtue of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (Commencement No 3 and Transitional Provisions) Order 2011 (SI 2011/3019 (C. 110 )) (‘the Commencement Order’).
- The new collaboration provisions inserted into the Police Act 1996 (‘the 1996 Act’) by the 2011 Act use the term ‘policing bodies’ to refer to a local policing body and the police authorities for the British Transport Police and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (see paragraph 11(3) of Schedule 12 to the 2011 Act). ‘Local policing body’ means a police and crime commissioner, the Mayor’s office for policing and crime and the common council for the City of London in its capacity as a police authority (see section 96(2)(a) of the 2011 Act).
3. Until November 2012, when police and crime commissioners replace police authorities, the Commencement Order provides for the reference to a police and crime commissioner in the definition of a ‘local policing body’ to have effect as a reference to a police authority for a police area listed in Schedule 1 to the 1996 Act (see article 10(2)(a)(ii)). As a result, police authorities outside London are local policing bodies for the purposes of the 1996 Act, and therefore policing bodies for the purposes of the collaboration provisions.
- Section 89 and Schedule 12 to the 2011 Act amend the provisions in the 1996 Act relating to collaboration agreements. The main changes are set out below.
5. The present arrangements for separate ‘police force collaboration agreements’ and ‘police authority collaboration agreements’ set out in sections 23 and 23A of the 1996 Act are replaced by a new section 22A, which provides for a single type of collaboration agreement which may be made by chief officers and policing bodies either separately or together.
- New section 22A(6) allows bodies other than police forces and policing bodies to join a collaboration agreement. This will help the police service to take advantage of the opportunities available for collaborating with others in the public and private sector. It is thought the most likely partners will be other public sector organisations involved in a shared service (such as another emergency service body or a local authority sharing business support services with the police) or other law enforcement organisations such as the National Crime Agency, once established.
7. Under new section 22A(3) to (5) it will be a requirement, as now, for policing bodies to approve all collaboration agreements, because they must automatically be a party to them. Under section 22A(2), collaboration agreements cannot contain provisions about the discharge of police functions unless the relevant chief constables are a party to them. Under section 23A(6) it remains a requirement for policing bodies to consult their chief on any collaboration they themselves want to make about policing body support.
New duty to collaborate
8. New sections 22B and 22C are inserted into the 1996 Act. These sections introduce new duties on chief officers and policing bodies to keep collaboration opportunities under review and to collaborate where it is in the interests of the efficiency or effectiveness of their own and other police force areas. This is a stronger duty than the previous one for police authorities, who were required only to support collaboration by their own forces. The new duties require chief officers and policing bodies to work together to review opportunities to collaborate, to engage with their prospective collaboration partners and to make a judgement as to whether those opportunities present the best option available. Where collaboration is judged to be the best option, they must collaborate. Another key difference from the previous arrangements is that where collaboration would provide the best outcome for another police force or group of forces, then a chief officer or policing body should pursue it - even if they do not expect their own force to benefit directly itself. This is designed to ensure that collaboration takes place wherever it is in the wider public’s best interest.
Secretary of State’s power to direct collaboration
- A new section 23FA creates a power for the Secretary of State to specify, by order, policing functions which must be exercised collaboratively. The government wants decisions about collaboration to be taken locally and therefore expects to use this new power sparingly and only as a last resort following consultation with policing partners.
- Section 23D is amended to require policing bodies to make arrangements for jointly holding their chiefs to account for the way functions are discharged under a collaboration agreement. Previously they were required only to ‘consider’ doing so.
- The current requirement under section 23C(1) to consult the Secretary of State before making a collaboration agreement involving seven or more parties is repealed.
Efficiency or effectiveness
- A new section 23HA requires chief officers and policing bodies when considering making collaboration agreements to consider their existing collaboration agreements, the need to take a consistent approach in making those arrangements, and other opportunities to collaborate that may be available.
Police powers for civilian employees under collaboration agreements
Section 90 and Schedule 13 of the 2011 Act amend the Police Act 1996, the Police Reform Act 2002 and the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 in respect of police powers for civilian employees under collaboration agreements. The new provisions allow civilian staff who are designated by one police force as having police powers, to exercise those powers in the area of another police force, where this is in furtherance of a collaboration agreement.
Paragraph 1 of Schedule 13 inserts a new section 23AA into the 1996 Act, requiring a collaboration agreement which contains provision about the discharge of functions by designated civilian employees of one police force in the area of another police force to specify the functions that they are permitted to discharge and any restrictions or conditions that may apply.
Paragraphs 2 and 3 of Schedule 13 amend the police Reform Act 2002 to provide for a procedure by which a chief officer may make a collaboration designation, by which a civilian employee designated by the chief officer of another force as having police powers may exercise those powers in the police area of the chief officer making the collaboration designation. The collaboration designation must be consistent with the provision in the collaboration agreement specifying the functions that may be discharged and imposing any limitations or conditions.
Paragraph 6 of Schedule 13 makes consequential amendments to the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003.
Transfer of existing collaboration agreements to PCCs
- By virtue of paragraphs 5 and 21(7) of Schedule 15 to the 2011 Act, existing collaboration agreements made under sections 23 and 23A of the 1996 Act will automatically be transferred from police authorities to PCCs.
The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (and explanatory notes)
The Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 (Commencement No 3) Order 2011 (SI 2011/3019 (C. 91))
Statutory guidance on police collaboration can be found on the NPIA website. This guidance will be revised during 2012 to take account of the new provisions set out above.