Friday, 2 July 2010

Rent seeking by Sir Hugh Orde of the ACPO

Via DK, I discovered an article at the Adam Smith Institute by Madsen Pirie which nicely captures my thoughts on recent statements by Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers:
[Orde] responded to proposed budget cuts by warning that it will mean reduction in the number of front line police officers. He says, "It would be misleading in the extreme to suggest the size of this service is sustainable."

This is not true, of course. It is a text-book response to proposed budget restrictions in public services. Always the claim is that it will be the most popular aspect of the service which will have to be cut. In this case it is the number of police on the streets.

One famous case was when US customs faced a cut and immediately took out the staff who looked for drugs coming in at airports.

The purpose is to pressure the political leaders by exposing them to hostile public opinion, with a view to weakening their resolve on the proposed savings. Never is it backroom or bureaucratic jobs that are proposed for cuts, because that would not achieve the purpose.

It is called rent-seeking, and is designed to maximize the amount of public funds directed to their department or service. It is without merit, and government should respond accordingly.

As DK observes, there's another shocking element to this story: taxpayers subsidise Sir Hugh's gentleman's-club-cum-lobby-group "to the tune of £10 million per annum". The ACPO website does not divulge the amount, but it does acknowledge the Home Office connection:

The Association has the status of a private company limited by guarantee. As such, it conforms to the requirements of company law and its affairs are governed by a Board of Directors.

It 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.

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 349 members of ACPO.

HMP Britain sets out The Case Against ACPO. Daniel Hannan has more on Orde here.

No comments:

Post a Comment