HC Deb 12 July 2004 vol 423 cc1117-8
8. Mr. David Heath (Somerton and Frome) (LD)

If he will make a statement on the status of National Crime Squad officers on transfer to the serious organised crime agency; and what surveys his Department has conducted into the views of NCS officers on such transfers in the last year. [183091]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Caroline Flint)

No decisions have yet been taken with regard to terms and conditions, but we hope to make a statement of approach on this matter shortly. We are undertaking a wide-ranging and inclusive consultation process. I was pleased to visit the NCS office in Wales on 16 June, where I heard the positive views of officers about the creation of the agency. We also discussed some of their concerns about transfer and terms and conditions, and I hope that I offered them some reassurance.

Mr. Heath

I hope so, because this is an important development that the Minister knows we support, although we would perhaps do things slightly differently. Is she aware that, among the Police Federation members in the National Crime Squad, more than 95 per cent. of the 900 officers who responded, out of a total of 1,200, said that they would not be happy to transfer to the NCS full time in the knowledge that it would be absorbed into the new agency; and that, in the first quarter of this year, more than 80 officers have left the NCS? That is very serious, and it means that we are losing highly trained, experienced and able officers from the new agency. Will she now go back to the Police Federation and the individual officers and talk to them about their concerns, so that we can ensure that we start the agency in the best possible way?

Caroline Flint

Of course we want to start the agency in the best possible way. That is why we are not rushing into the situation and why we have a programme team at the Home Office that is working with the NCS and he other component parts of the new agency and is in discussions with the Association of Chief Police Officers. There are also monthly updates and regular bulletins and meetings involving the police officers who currently work with the NCS. As my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary said, the terms and conditions package will be guided by the principle that no one should be disadvantaged by moving into the new organisation. I shall be very happy to facilitate a meeting for the hon. Gentleman with Bill Hughes, director general of the NCS.

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