Association of Chief Police Officers

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This article is part of the Counter-Terrorism Portal project of Spinwatch.

The Association of Chief Police Officers Of England, Wales and Northern Ireland was a membership body made up largely of senior police officers. Although not a public body, it exercised an important strategic role in policing. NETCU, NPOIU (of which the CIU is a section) and NDET were the three units answering to ACPO.[1] In 2013, an independent review of ACPO by General Sir Nick Parker was published. It recommended that ACPO be replaced by a new body, in the interests of greater transparency and cost effectiveness.[2][3] On the basis of these recommendations, a new organisation, the National Police Chiefs' Council, was set up to replace ACPO, which it did on 1 April 2015.[4]


Although a membership body, ACPO emphasised that it is not a staff association. This role is exercised by the separate Chief Police Officers' Association.[5]

The ACPO website states:

In the public interest and, in equal and active partnership with Government and the Association of Police Authorities, ACPO leads and coordinates the direction and development of the police service in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. In times of national need ACPO - on behalf of all chief officers - coordinates the strategic policing response.[6]


ACPO describes itself as "an independent, professionally led strategic body."[7] It operates as a private company limited by guarantee, governed by a board of directors.[8]

This status has given rise to some criticism given the Association's strategic role. For example, the Guardian's Henry Porter has written:

despite its important role in drafting and implementing policies that affect the fundamental freedoms of this country, ACPO is protected from freedom of information requests and its proceedings remain largely hidden from public view. In reality ACPO is no more troubled by public scrutiny than the freemasons.[9]

NETCU, NPOIU (of which the CIU is a section) and NDET are the three units answering to ACPO. These three "domestic extremism" units are working under the direction of Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Tudway. As the "national co-ordinator for domestic extremism" he commands about 100 staff and has a budget of about £9m a year.[1]

Future of ACPO

According to the NETCU website

following reviews within ACPO TAM and a HMIC Value for Money Review, it was agreed by the ACPO TAM board to merge the three Domestic Extremism units into single national function under a lead force.[10]

The three "domestic-extremism' units in question are NPOIU, NETCU and NDET. They currently answer to ACPO.[1]

The National Co-ordinator for Domestic Extremism, Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Tudway, who is currently managing the merger said "The three domestic extremism units were set up at different times during a six year period, with the current economic climate and the need to maximise resources it makes sense to merge."

An article in The Guardian on the three "domestic extremism" units working under the direction of Detective Chief Superintendent Adrian Tudway states that

concerns have been growing about the accountability and subject to agreement they will be taken over by the Met under a "lead force" agreement – the same way the Met has overall command of national counter-terrorism operations.[1]


ACPO describes its membership as follows:

ACPO's members are police officers who hold the rank of Chief Constable, Deputy Chief Constable or Assistant Chief Constable, or their equivalents, in the forty four forces of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, national police agencies and certain other forces in the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands, and certain senior non-police staff. There are presently 280 members of ACPO.[11]

Funding and finances

According to its website, ACPO is funded "by a combination of a Home Office grant, contributions from each of the 44 Police Authorities, membership subscriptions and by the proceeds of its annual exhibition."[12]

A Mail on Sunday investigation in February 2009 claimed that the organisation has an £18 million annual income. Of this £15 million came from project work for the Home Office and Police.[13]

This was supplemented by a number of other business ventures examined by the Mail including ACRO – the ACPO Criminal Records Office.

According to the National Police Improvement Agency, which runs the Police National Computer, ACPO is charged 60p for each search.
However, ACPO charges the public up to £70 for its ‘premium service’, while its standard service – which takes ten days – costs £35.[13]

Another ACPO offshoot identified by the Mail was ACPO Crime Prevention Initiatives Ltd.

The company, which charges manufacturers to approve their crime-prevention products such as burglar alarms and blast doors, had a turnover of £981,500 last year.
The firm’s accounts show that it made a healthy surplus of £225,000 on that income and paid its directors £107,000.
The firm issues Secured by Design licences and advertises the approved firms’ telephone numbers and other contact details on the ACPO website.[13]

A third ACPO business highlighted by the Mail was Road Safety Support Ltd:

An independent affiliate of ACPO, the firm also provides expert witnesses to combat ‘loophole’ lawyers attempting to beat speeding offences. It also provides training to speed camera operators.
The chairman of RSS is Meredydd Hughes, Chief Constable of South Yorkshire. He was formerly the chairman of ACPO’s roads policing group but stood down following a driving ban after being caught on camera speeding at 90mph.[13]

According to the Mail, Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty criticised ACPO's lack of accountability and suggested its growing commercial activities could be illegal.[13]

Transferable skills and alliances: police and private security industry

Questions have been raised regarding the ethics of "former police officers cashing in on their surveillance skills for a host of companies that target protesters".[14] See the Powerbase overview of the revolving door between the private security industry and the police.


Terrorism & Allied Matters



Contact details, Resources, Notes


External Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Rob Evans, Matthew Taylor, Afua Hirsch and Paul Lewis Rein in undercover police units, says former DPP The Guardian, 13/01/11, accessed 24/01/11. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Hirsch" defined multiple times with different content Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Hirsch" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Acpo overhaul needed, says general's report for PCCs, BBC News, 14 November 2013(accessed 14 June 2020).
  3. Nick Parker, Independent review of ACPO (accessed 27 June 2020).
  4. Chief Constable Sara Thornton has been appointed as Chair of the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) NPCC, 1 December 2014 (accessed 14 June 2020).
  5. About Us, Association of Chief Police Officers, accessed 12 February 2009.
  6. Association of Chief Police Officers, ACPO homepage, accessed 12 February 2009
  7. Association of Chief Police Officers, ACPO homepage, accessed 12 February 2009.
  8. About Us, Association of Chief Police Officers, accessed 12 February 2009.
  9. The secret police are watching you, by Henry Porter, Comment Is Free,, 10 February 2009.
  10. NETCU website Media 24/11/10, accessed 22/01/11
  11. About Us, Association of Chief Police Officers, accessed 12 February 2009.
  12. About Us, Association of Chief Police Officers, accessed 12 February 2009.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Jason Lewis, Body in charge of UK policing policy is now an £18m-a-year brand charging the public £70 for a 60p criminal records check, MailOnline, 15 February 2009.
  14. Paul Lewis and Rob Evans Green groups targeted polluters as corporate agents hid in their ranks The Guardian, 14/02/11, accessed 14/02/11