The London Assembly has been promised a full breakdown of spending by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) after Mayor Boris Johnson was criticised over the level of City Hall’s funding for the body.
At Wednesday’s Mayor’s Question Time, Conservative Assembly Member Tony Arbour quizzed the Mayor over his annual £600,000 grant to the body which coordinates national policing policy.
In an FOI response to Mr Arbour, ACPO confirmed it had rented three properties in financial year 2011/12 at a total cost of £53,123.
In its written answer to Mr Arbour, ACPO said: “The FoI Act is ‘applicant blind’. This means that we cannot, and do not, ask about the motives of anyone who asks for information. In providing a response to one person, we are expressing a willingness to provide the same response to anyone, including those who might represent a threat to the UK.”
Mr Arbour has held a number of elected offices since 1971 and is a Justice of the Peace and Assistant Chairman of the Richmond upon Thames Bench. He also serves on the Assembly’s Police and Crime Committee.
The association’s website describes it as “an independent, professionally led strategic body.”
Its membership consists of 334 senior police officers and police civilian staff holding the rank of Assistant Chief Constable (or equivalent) and above.
The body, which is funded by Home Office and local police grants, also confirmed that it had reimbursed more than £22,000 worth of expenses claims for hotels, hospitality and travel during the same year.
Speaking before Wednesday’s meeting, Mr Arbour described the figures as “simply shocking” and suggested ACPO had “missed the fact that we are collectively trying to cut costs.”
He later told the Mayor that Londoners facing cuts to local policing would be concerned to see such large sums of their money being used to fund what he described as a “fat cat club” which has the status of a private company and is “not democratically accountable to anybody”.
Responding to Mr Arbour’s criticisms, the Mayor defended ACPO’s work, describing it as “a very good way of bringing together expertise” and said he was “reluctant to cease our payments to it”.
However he promised to seek further details of how the body uses its City Hall grants.
Following the meeting ACPO denied suggestions that it spent almost £270,000 on cars and drivers, insisting all vehicles used by its members were supplied and funded by their own forces.
On Thursday a spokesperson suggested some of the sums cited by Mr Arbour “combine payments over several different years and on different elements of national policing.”
The spokesperson explained that the £605,450 of City Hall funding in 2011/12 “includes £480,450 which directly funds national policing units such as National Ballistic Intelligence Service” and this this money “does not fund ACPO itself.”
However the body did receive “£120,000 towards ACPO as a body” from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) in the same year.
Commenting on the expenses claims, the spokesperson said these were “made by all staff at ACPO’s central office for a full financial year and members should be assured these costs do not fall directly to Londoners.”
He added: “In 2011/12 ACPO administered funds for three rented properties on behalf of the Olympics policing and UK interoperability programmes. These projects were financed by contributions from a number of agencies including the Home Office and England and Wales forces”
The spokesperson said ACPO will now “provide a full breakdown for Assembly members”.