Posts Tagged ‘National Policing Improvement Agency’

The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) was created in 2007 and at that time it took on responsibility for many areas of national policing support services.

However, the current Home Secretary Theresa May has recently announced that the NPIA would be dissolved, its portfolio split up and handed over to others.  She has now announced that the Central Witness Bureau, Crime Operational Support Unit, the National Missing Persons’ Bureau, Serious Crime Analysis Section and the Specialist Operations Centre would transfer to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) from the beginning of April.  However, she has not made clear yet whether when SOCA morphs into the National Crime Agency (NCA)whether it will accept responsibility for these areas as well as taking on the Proceeds of Crime Centre in 2013.

The UK's new Home Secretary, Theresa May, givi...

The UK's new Home Secretary, Theresa May, giving speech to Home Office staff. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She also stated that “Work is continuing on the development of the police professional body and the new police ICT company.”

When it has been decided what the new policing professional body is, Ms May will confirm that the NPIA functions including learning and development, uniformed operational support and the National College of Police Leadership will transfer to it.

The Home Office will take over the NPIA’s Police Science and Forensics services, policy for special constables, the Automotive Equipment Section and management of the Airwave radio system to the Home Office.

All moves can be expected in autumn this year and we can look forward to new logos, launch parties and designer freebies and of course a much improved and cost efficient service.  I hope I’m not sounding too cynical but in 30 years, I’ve seen it happen often.

Will your detective be just as cynical as I may sound and how are the changes likely to affect the way they work?

If you’re not sure, you can either wait it out, ignore it altogether or sign up for the next Crime Fiction – Making it Real Weekend this autumn by dropping a line to me at 



Secure your place NOW on the November 2012 Crime Fiction – Making it Real, weekend workshop designed for writers interested in learning more about the police, their procedures and practices.  There will be time to immerse yourselves in case studies and to bring along your very own questions to be answered.  Check out the Autumn 2012 Workshop page for more details.

For more information, contact me via e-mail at  –

It seemed a long time coming but when it did finally arrive, it flew.

From a personal point of view, the weekend far exceeded my expectations.  To top it all, I met a great bunch of people who were attentive, keen to learn and better still, keen to share their knowledge and help their peers.

What I’m talking about is the very first Crime Fiction – Making it Real weekend workshop, held at the West Yorkshire Police Training and Development Centre.

Delegates came to Wakefield from as far away as Avon and Somerset, Devon, Essex, the big city – London and Northumbria as well as places closer to the venue.

But don’t take my word for how good it was, read some of the feedback received –

Barbara  – Just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the course.

I wanted a general overview of the police and procedures which I think you covered very well. Even if you don’t use a lot of it in the writing, it is useful background to get an idea of how a whole police station would operate. The stuff on the Major incident teams and crime scenes etc was very useful. I guess writers are also interested in dialogue so discussing interviews etc was also helpful.  I also found the stuff on who certifies death, the role of the coroner etc helpful.  The stuff on serious criminal, like rapists was very good as was the discussion of forensic profilers.  t skimmed through the CD and it will be an excellent resource for us.

We were quite a demanding audience and you handled the questions very well. I really did enjoy it. A big part as well is the other attendees and I got a lot out of talking to the others in break times.

Caroline  – Thanks for a terrific course and for your individual attention with my plot, really appreciated. A great weekend and I am now energised and armed to complete the book hopefully with my cop facts right.

CJ – I wanted to thank you for a very stimulating and informative weekend. I learnt a lot and especially valued having my specific questions all dealt with. Overall, it was a fun weekend and a great experience and I will recommend it to other crime writers.  I could tell you put a lot into organising everything for us and it paid off big time.

Gareth – I’d like to thanks you so much for an amazing weekend.  I felt so fortunate to meet you and so many wonderful people.  The course was very informative.  The main strength of the course was you.  You were clearly knowledgeable and presented the information in a friendly, easy to understand way, but, above all, your great sense of humour made it so much fun.

Ian – It was a great course thanks,

Jan – It was brilliant.  I’ve done over 20 OU courses and about 13 summer schools – and this has to be up there with the best of them.  I really enjoyed the whole thing.

It was exactly what I needed to convince myself that non-police personnel stand a chance of writing crime – both from the point of view of the information received (and thank you so much for the DVD, it’s excellent) and from being able to meet with published authors and non-published authors in a friendly and supportive atmosphere.  I thought it did exactly what it said on the tin – it explained the structure and routines and left me in a much better position to track down my own information, and to know what level of information I need to include.

It was obvious so much thought had gone into the whole weekend.  I also felt the tone was exactly right.  Serious subjects, but tackled in an intelligent and light-hearted way, which was just the right balance for me.  I’d be back like a shot for further courses

Linda  – Just a quick line to say how much I enjoyed and appreciated this weekend. I think you covered every question I thought I might ask and covered a good many I didn’t even know I needed to ask! You surpassed all my expectations of what might be got out of the sessions, and I think I will be referring back to the information on the DVD for a long time to come.

Lesley – Firstly thanks for the workshop, you obviously did a lot of hard work to produce it.  I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. I got a lot from it and learnt things I didn’t know. In fact I have created a new main character for my next book from those who are co-opted onto the enquiry (more later). T he DVD of information is an excellent resource.  Weekends like this are as much about talking to other people during the breaks and in the evening as about the workshop itself and we had plenty of time for that.

Maggie – You often don’t realise what you want to know until you know it and it provokes further questioning! I was open to consuming new knowledge that I could utilise along the way within my writing. I think I gained a new perspective through the course.  At the time I felt that being informed about the different uniforms was not necessary – in hindsight I feel that it was totally in context with the rest of the content once I had done the two days. It helps that you can take notes of thought provoking ideas rather than have to scribble everything that is said down and miss the overall aim/ambience.  During the course it was thought provoking and I am sure many of us have come away with some ideas for plot lines.  All in all I would definitely recommend this course to anyone considering it. Meeting the variety of people that were there was also interesting, some of us will definitely stay in touch and thus we are able to widen our network of contacts/writers/new friends.  10/10!

Paul – I enjoyed the weekend immensely and it was tremendous value for money. The extensive CD alone was worth the workshop fee and it contains everything the crime writer could wish for.  I think you provided a very good ‘walk through’ of what actual happens at the scene of a major crime and the different roles etc.  In conclusion it was an excellent experience

Sheila – I got loads from the course.  Lots of little gems will stay in my mind for further use.  I love anecdotes from people’s working lives, details that you will never get from a manual such as the spitting prisoner in a cage in a van.  The role play on tracing a wanted bod taught me how to think investigation.

Tom – I found the weekend most useful and the content and materials we subsequently received will prove valuable reference sources for crime writing. I got all the factual material I needed – and more. In fact I would suggest you were over-generous in how much info you released.

Wanda – I just want to say how much I enjoyed the weekend, and I certainly learnt a great deal. I am also delighted with the CD. You have been very generous with your knowledge, time and information and I am sure that I will now have a much better idea on how to proceed with my crime novel.

Anyone interested in signing up for the second workshop, drop me a line at

For those of you not sure of what you missed, take a look at the original post for the Crime Fiction – Making it Real workshop.

English: Bush Search and Rescue volunteers bei...

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Does your SIO (Senior Investigating Officer) decide where to conduct searches as part of their investigation and if so on what basis?  Are they trained in the latest search techniques?  Have they experience of conducting many searches successfully?

The chances are that if they make the decision alone, they’ll base it on gut feeling or for the lucky (or unlucky, depending upon your yardstick) few, on experience.  There’s no need however to take this burden on themselves.

Did you know that they have access to specialist advisors called PoLSAs or Police Search Special Advisers?  In fact, every police officer has access to one.  It’s not about rank; it’s about the job at hand.

PoLSAs are graduates of the Police National Search Centre (PNSC), which was set up after the Brighton Bombing in 1984.  It is based at the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) Bramshill, Hampshire and its role is to turn out experts at searching places and premises, trained by both the military and the police.

The PNSC delivers a range of specialist courses in search and security. After training, students are equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge required to plan and conduct efficient and effective searches in order to:

  • Gain intelligence
  • Obtain evidence for prosecutions
  • Assist in countering terrorism
  • Tackle criminality, by depriving them of their resources and opportunities
  • Locate vulnerable missing people
  • Protect potential targets and key events

The PoLSA course is of 17 days duration and upon passing it, a police search adviser is capable of planning, conducting and controlling counter-terrorism, crime and missing person’s searches.   A PoLSA is widely recognised as the most appropriate person to give advice and guidance in relation to searches.

So the next time your SIO needs searches conducting, don’t leave them to sort it out themselves.  Let them co-opt a PoLSA onto the enquiry.  It should give them the best places to search to help find the victim, suspect or evidence.  It might also bring your story to a more rapid conclusion so you might want to use the PoLSA for a bit of conflict with the SIO instead.  The choice is yours.

Don’t forget to book your place on the Crime Fiction – Making it Real weekend workshop March 2012

A cassete tape icon

Police interviews with suspects, conducted at police stations have, since the 1980s, involved using audio cassette tapes to record them.

Each year the police in the UK conduct almost 2 million interviews recorded in this manner.  Many of these tapes are transcribed, copied and sent to others involved in the criminal justice process, such as defence solicitors.  This can take many weeks, which in itself delays the administration of justice.

Each cassette tape has to be organized and stored away for at least 7 years, which also takes up time and space.  Sometimes, these tapes, which are pieces of evidence, are lost.

Police forces are coming under every increasing pressure to reduce costs.  Add to this the fact that the number of audio cassette manufacturers and suppliers are decreasing at a significant rate; there had been an urgent need to find an alternative method of recording police interviews.

Thankfully, the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) has negotiated a national arrangement with suppliers that will help forces switch from using out dated audio cassettes to digital technology for the recording and storage of police interviews.  This means that forces can now avoid costly and lengthy procurement processes and be able to buy up to date, networked digital technology at a substantial saving.

Once in place, the technology will speed up the interview recording process and free up police officer so that they can get back on the streets much quicker.

The interviews will record straight on to a secure digital network from which relevant, authorised persons can access the evidence and use it for their approved purposes.

This technology will also improve the recording quality: allow officers in different locations to listen to the live interview; prevent the loss of (taped) evidence and reduce the storage burden.

Therefore, if your book is to be published in the coming year, you may want to think about the technology used to record the interviews with your suspects.

Don’t forget to book your place on the Crime Fiction – Making it Real weekend workshop March 2012


English: Picture of Bramshill House (now a pol...

Image via Wikipedia

Bramshill is the name of the police college in Hampshire, owned by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA).  It is there that top cops (those of and above Superintendent level) get their training on how to run major investigations that span force boundaries and how to manage their own policing command unit or force.

The centre also provide training to senior cops from all over the world so you could always manage to create links between top British cops and their counterparts overseas.  This will aid an international element to your stories.

Don’t forget to book your place on the Crime Fiction – Making it Real weekend workshop March 2012

National Policing Improvement Agency

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Many, many years ago there was no standardised approach to the training of police officer recruits.  The shortcomings of such became more evident when there was a greater need for officers to be able to work in other force areas.  A constable in an English or Welsh force has the authority to use any of their powers throughout England and Wales at anytime of day or night; on duty or off-duty.


There have been many reviews of police training and in the early 2000s it was decided to introduce a new standardised training programme called the Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP).  The outline of the programme was devised and owned by the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) but the content was written and owned by the individual police forces.  As a consequence, whilst there is a national programme, not all of it is mandatory and not all of it is designed and delivered to the same standard.   This means that officers in London, may actually receive different training or emphasis on training than some of their colleagues in other parts of the country.  Hence, some criminals that are prepared to travel across county boundaries are likely to come across inconsistencies in the way the police enforce certain laws.


In the 1980s, one Chief Constable declared that in his county there was no problem with illegal drugs whilst his peers were suffering considerably through the availability of them.


When asked how he had managed to suppress their existence in his county he stated that he had no idea.  His underlings knew all to well, it was because he had disbanded the force drug squad and chosen not to focus any of his resources on illegal drugs. Hence, there was no intelligence gathering so no idea as to what was out there and no enforcement to prosecute those responsible.  Thankfully, he retired many years ago.


To compound matters further, in line with government policies, most forces award their new officers with some kind of qualification in recognition of the work they have undertaken to learn how to do the job.  The level of this qualification has varied across the country with some officers gaining National Vocational Qualifications at Level 3 or 4, others being awarded foundation or full degrees.


This is about to change in the future once there has been widespread agreement at the Association of Chief Police Officer (ACPO) level as to what are the minimum requirements of any initial training course for recruits to the service.  This is in itself compounded as each force adopts various entry routes into the job.  In some forces, candidates for recruitment have to have gained a qualification first of all before they can even apply to join the police.  In other areas, potential recruits must have served as a Special Constable for at least 2 years.  Thankfully in most areas, theer has been a freeze on recruitment due to budget cuts.  This was anticipated to last for around 4 years – enough time to develop and implement a standardised approach.  However, some forces have actually started to recruit officers once again and so have had to go down their own programme route.


Even though one cop may well look just like any other across the country, they may not have been taught the same things or trained to the same level.  It may even be their first day on the streets, fresh out of the training school.



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 A state-of-the art device that can digitally match up fingerprints in minutes has been making its mark with officers at the sharp end of policing.

The MobileID kit – which is run from a BlackBerry smartphone – has now seen some extensive use since it was first deployed earlier in the year.

And with the means to check a suspect’s prints against the thousands on the National Fingerprint Database anywhere in the country, officers are reporting excellent results.

Sgt Simon Goss, of the Roads Policing Unit Proactive Team at Hampshire Constabulary said MobileID was an outstanding and highly versatile tool.

Sgt Goss told “We are getting some fantastic results with it – results that we would not have secured by using any other policing methods.

“We have now had this equipment for some time in Hampshire Constabulary and it has really proved its worth – you can rapidly establish identification.”

Sgt Goss was speaking after the fingerprinting device – which was launched by the NPIA over the summer – played an instrumental role in allowing officers from Hampshire to identify an unconscious man in intensive care.

A hospital had contacted the Force after admitting the seriously ill patient, and an officer swiftly provided rapid confirmation who they were treating.

Identification of unconscious or fatal victims at a crime, accident scene or hospital has proved one of the key benefits that the MobileID service is delivering

An average saving of at least 30 minutes per case are among the other advantages.

The devices have now been deployed to more than half of forces in England and Wales this year, helping to cut the number of trips officers make back to the police station and giving them more time to spend out and about.

Nick Deyes, NPIA head of the Information Systems Improvement Strategy (ISIS) said: “This is a great example of how MobileID is not only an effective tool in the fight against crime, but also a piece of technology that can be used to help identify victims who have been seriously injured.

“This is a very promising start for a new service that is proving to be an asset.”

DCC Peter Goodman, who is the ACPO spokesperson for the equipment, added: “The functionality that MobileID offers benefits to more than just the Police Service.

“As this example shows, the technology can also assist other agencies and the public. Over the coming months I expect to see more and more examples which highlight the advantages of using MobileID,” he emphasised.


If you feel hindered, worry not.  Let me know what it is you’re trying to achieve and let me see how I can help progress your story.