National Common Intelligence Application
The National Common Intelligence Application (NCIA) is a database and communication software used by counter-terrorism/domestic extremism police. It replaces the National Special Branch Information System (NBSIS).
According to the UK Government:
- The National Common Intelligence Application (NCIA) database has been created to replace forces' individual counter-terrorism databases. The NCIA is a national database and is administered centrally by the National Counter Terrorism Police Headquarters within the MPS. As this data is now on one database and is under the control of one police force, this ensures a consistent approach to the review, retention and disposal of this information.
Prior to the NCIA, NSBIS was used by Special Branch / Counter Terrorism units. This was software / database package which was installed in local instances in the units. As NSBIS could be customised, it lead to 'inconsistent and varied information-recording practices'. As national connectivity was deemed a key aspect of the 2012 National Policing Requirement, this was deemed a weakness, leading to replacement NCIA under the Apollo programme, which began as early as 2011 when a pilot programme took place in the South West Counter Terrorism Intelligence Unit. In July 2015, UK police forces had 'been investing time and resources into ensuring that the data contained in their National Special Branch Intelligence Systems is suitable to transfer onto the National Common Intelligence Application'.
The purpose of the Apollo programme was given in 2015 as:
- Apollo supports the integration of our national intelligence model with other delivery projects and programmes including DRR, NDES, CT Police Operations Rooms and National Functions, as part of the activity being led by Cmdr [Keith] Surtees], as agreed at CTCC [NPCC'S Counter Terrorism Coordinating Committee] (22 September). Management of the dependencies between these projects and programmes is challenging.
and in 2016:
- to provide common intelligence applications and common intelligence rules across CT policing, which would enable police officers in London to share that intelligence with forces across the country.
Apollo was initially funded by ACPO TAM It later came under the aegis of the NPCC's National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters (NCTPHQ, formerly ACPO TAM) and the 'Specialist Capabilities' programme, with the Metropolitan Police hosting it (albeit individuals were seconded from other forces).
Police Scotland was the first force to go fully live with NCIA, by September 2015, followed by the North West Counter Terrorism Unit in early 2016. However, in 2016 it was further delayed due to 'significant resourcing issues', with the final implementation date moving to July 2018. In January 2018, it continued to struggle with funding and resources issues.
In 2015, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary noted that it had been delayed by 2 years within the Metropolitan Police to address 'data cleansing'. and this continued to be a problem in April 2018, with completion of the roll-out in SO15 Counter Terrorism Command and MPS hosted national counter terrorism units not expected until March 2019.
- 'will enable appropriately authorised individuals to be given access to view the whole picture of counter terrorism in the United Kingdom.
- 'will be supported by standard operating procedures and national standards of intelligence management. In this way, information will be entered and processed in a consistent manner and will no longer be varied according to the particular team of investigators which acquired it.
It will allow sharing of information to other areas of 'general policing activities', while protecting 'the highly sensitive information derived from counter-terrorism sources and the means by which any policing tactics secure information'.
A 2016 statement noted:
- Migration from local NSBIS instances onto the NCIA is scheduled to take place on a force-by-force (and a unit-by-unit) basis. The entire live NSBIS of a force or unit is transferred to the NCIA when the particular force or unit's migration occurs.
Those employed or trained in relation to the use of NCIA are expected to have a knowledge of policing around both counter-terrorism and domestic extremism and take a specific course in the use and regulations around the NCIA.
Data review, retention and deletion
In light of the Catt judgement over the wrongful storage of individual and personal protester information on the National Domestic Extremism Database the issue of data review, retention and deletion on police databases has received considerable attention. In light of this, and earlier criticism of data retention policies made by both Operation Herne and HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (see under National Special Branch Intelligence System and Special Branch Registry) new RRD policies have implemented. According, to an 'Action Plan' provided to the European Committee of Ministers:
- A team of assessors determine whether a record is relevant and necessary and whether it is proportionate for the record to be added to the database, and their decisions are recorded. The NCIA database schedules a review for all records at either 6, 7 or 10 years depending on the category of the data. A user may also trigger a record for review at another date in time if considered necessary. The work of the assessor team in the MPS will be supported by a revised review, retention and disposal (RDD) policy in respect of the records held on the new NCIA database.
- Execution of Judgements of the European Court of Human Rights ACTION PLAN - Catt v the United Kingdom, UK Government, 24 October 2019.
- Building the Picture: An inspection of police information management, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, July 2015 (accessed 1 June 2020).
- National Policing Requirement, Association of Chief Police Officers, 2012 (accessed via College of Policing).
- Programme Board Update: Project Brunel, South West Regional Collaboration Programme, 13 January 2011 (accessed 5 June 2020, accessed via DCPA.police.uk).
- Nicole Higgins, 2015/2016 Q2 Delivery Plan Update, National Police Chiefs' Council - Audit & Assurance Board, 5 October 2015 (accessed 2 June 2020).
- Minutes of Meeting of Chief Constables' Council held on 20-21 April 2016, National Police Chiefs' Council, 27 April 2016 (accessed 1 June 2020).
- Ian Stainer, Enhancing Intelligence-Led Policing: Law Enforcement' Big Data Revolution', in Big Data Challenges: Society, Security, Innovation and Ethics, ed. Anno Bunnik, Anthony Cawley, Michael Mulqueen & Andrej Zwitter, Springer, 2016.
- Undercover Research Group: review of minutes of National Police Chiefs' Council, May 2020.
- Revenue Monitoring Report 2017/2018: Report for Information - Level 1 meeting on 23 January 2018, Thames Valley Police, January 2018 (accessed 2 June 2020).
- Quarterly Performance Report Q2 2015/2016, Police Scotland, 2015 (accessed 10 June 2020).
- Nicole Higgins, NPCC 2016/17 Delivery Plan update - Q1, National Police Chiefs' Council, 4 July 2016 (accessed 2 June 2020).
- Nicole Higgins, Q3 NPCC 2017/18 Delivery Plan update, National Police Chiefs' Council, 14 January 2018 (accessed 2 June 2020).
- NPCC Delivery Plan 2018/19 Proposed Objectives, National Police Chiefs' Council, April 2018 (accessed 2 June 2020).
- Jeffery Lamprey, Witness statement, National Counter Terrorism Policing Headquarters / Metropolitan Police, 19 December 2016 (accessed 2 June 2020 via ucpi.org.uk).
- Undercover Research Group: survey of job notices relating to the NCIA, June 2020.
- Judgement in Case of Catt v The United Kingdom, European Court of Human Rights, 24 January 2019.
- SInsight: Catt v UK – A peaceful activist’s victory over unwarranted police surveillance, Bindmans LLP, 19 February 2019 (accessed 10 June 2020).