National Policing Improvement Agency

National Policing Improvement Agency
National Policing Improvement Agency
Abbreviation NPIA
NPIA Logo.png
Logo of the National Policing Improvement Agency.
Agency overview
Formed April 1, 2007
Preceding agencies
  • Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO)
  • Centrex
  • National Police Training
  • Police Staff College
Employees 1,629 (September 2011); 2,100 (2009)
Annual budget £380M (2011/12); £474M (2008/09)
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
National agency
(Operations jurisdiction)
United Kingdom
England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland
Size 244 821 km² / 94,526 sq mi
Population 60,609,153
Legal jurisdiction England and Wales, less in Scotland and Northern Ireland
Governing body [[Home Office]]
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters London
Agency executive Chief Constable Nick Gargan, Chief Executive

The United Kingdom's National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) is a non-departmental public body established to support police by providing expertise in such areas as information technology, information sharing, and recruitment.



The National Policing Improvement Agency became operational on 1 April 2007. The agency took over the work of several precursor agencies including the Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO), Centrex (including the National Centre for Policing Excellence), and a small number of Home Office staff. PITO and Centrex were both abolished when the NPIA became operational, and has formal responsibilities for police forces in England and Wales but, unlike PITO, not for the eight Scottish forces.

The NPIA was proposed by the Association of Chief Police Officers (England & Wales) as a response to the UK Government's green paper Building Safer Communities Together. The stated objective of the NPIA is to support i) the delivery of more effective policing and ii) a culture of self-improvement around policing in the United Kingdom. Unlike PITO, it is not solely a supplier of national police IT systems.

The key priorities of the NPIA are set by the National Policing Board, established in July 2006 to help strengthen the governance of policing in England and Wales. The National Policing Board, chaired by the Home Secretary, has a tripartite membership from the Home Office, ACPO and the APA.

The motivations for creating the NPIA were laid out in the 2004 Police Reform white paper Building Communities, Beating Crime which stated: "...the mechanisms for national policing improvements are disparate and overlapping." Additionally, in 2004 Hazel Blears commissioned an End-to-End Review of PITO which concluded that "The tripartite governance structure is inappropriate for efficiently and effectively delivering services" and that "PITO as a concept is fundamentally flawed".

Chief Constable Peter Neyroud was the Agency's first Chief Executive. He retired from the police service in December 2010 after submitting an independent review of police training and leadership to the Home Secretary. Deputy Chief Executive Nick Gargan was temporarily promoted to Chief Constable in September that year, when Neyroud started his independent review and remains the Agency's second Chief Executive.

Peter Holland DL was appointed as the first chair of the NPIA in September 2006 and was extended in his role as chair by the Home Secretary in late 2010, when Neyroud announced his retirement.

Upon formation in April 2007, the estimated staff of the NPIA was 1772, and the expected income for 2007-08 was £484m .[1]

The NPIA had a number of challenges to meet, the implementation of the Bichard Inquiry after the Soham Murders and the McFarland Report regarding Police IT and PITO, made the development, implementation and standardisation of new police technologies a major national priority. The development of doctrine and policy in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), encouraging a national police strategy in terms of purchasing of equipment and bringing about universal police standards in areas such as training, development and leadership were all fundamental priorities and objectives of the agency. The HMIC Report 'Closing the Gap' recommended closer working and partnerships especially in strategic areas such as protective service, and the first trial Collaboration Demonstration Sites were announced by the Home Office.[2]

In 2007, Peter Neyroud said that by creating a consensus with police forces and having some powers to mandate IT strategy over police forces, the agency would succeed where PITO (Police Information Technology Organisation) had failed.

"The failure of PITO stemmed from an absence of space where objectives could be agreed with the National Policing Board. By working with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Association of Police Authorities (APA), we are much more a part of police forces" [3]

The Agency was the subject of critical comment (externally and internally) as a consequence of high levels of staff turnover and the results of a damaging staff survey in the first year of its operation, which revealed high levels of staff dissatisfaction on a range of issues. Difficulties with recruitment and retention necessitated high levels of expenditure on contractors and private sector consultants to maintain service provision in some business units.[4][5]

However, despite all this, the NPIA will be abolished in mid-2012[6] and - as at October 2011 - there are no plans for many of its functions to be taken over by other bodies, or even to continue at all, for example, strategies for national police training. Specialised police training such as the Advanced Public Order Commander course will cease unless an alternative is found, an astonishing situation given that national Public Order command training was heavily criticised following widespread public disorder in many English cities in July 2011.

Objectives of the NPIA

To achieve its objectives, the NPIA co-ordinates organisational change across policy, processes, staff and technology both at national programme level and also with the county Forces. For Police information technology, the NPIA builds upon ACPO's Information Systems Strategy 'ISS4PS', which calls on the police service to work together to adopt common standards, products and services.

The NPIA provides the following functions at a national level -

  • Specialist training for high-tech crime, forensics and major investigations
  • Round the clock specialist operational policing advice to guide forces through murder investigations, public order events, major incidents and searches
  • National development programmes to nurture the next generation of police officers at all levels from PC to the senior ranks.

Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS)

The Serious Crime Analysis Section, based at Foxley Hall[7] in the grounds of the Police Staff College, Bramshill in Hampshire is made up of crime analysts and specialist police staff who analyse crime under specific criteria - essentially rape and serious sexual assaults and motiveless or sexually motivated murder cases.

The Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS) was initiated by the Home Office in 1998 with one main objective - to identify the potential emergence of serial killers and serial rapists at the earliest stage of their offending. Whilst this objective remains at the heart of SCAS remit, far more services have been developed for investigators of serious crime, with other services continually under development.

SCAS receive crime case files at an early stage in their investigation from all forces in the UK (including Scotland and the PSNI) through a network of contact officers employed in intelligence departments in every force.

In order to carry out this difficult and complex casework, all information is coded and placed onto one single database - ViCLAS (Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System). This system was developed in Canada by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. The coding of criminal behaviour is a painstaking process and is carried out by highly trained Assistant Crime Analysts at SCAS.

The investigating officer receives a report from a crime analyst with a number of key elements designed to assist the investigation. It will identify if there are grounds to believe that the offender has previously been identified. It will also provide a breakdown of the behaviour exhibited in the offence, often with a statistical description of some of the elements involved. This can alert an investigator to the importance of some aspects of the offence not immediately apparent.

SCAS are also responsible for identifying good practice, or "what works", so the analyst's report may contain "investigative suggestions" that might guide the officer to a specific line of enquiry not yet considered. The report may also suggest possible suspects that the unit has identified from a number of databases.

When a prime suspect has been identified and charged with an offence, senior analysts are able to provide specialist evidence in court, to assist with the prosecution of offenders.

Crime Operational Support

Crime Operational Support aims to support the police service through provision of specialist operational skills and to assist in the resolution of exceptional crime series and operational critical incidents.

There are four regional teams of investigative advisers support regional investigations. These teams are supported with the specialist skills of crime investigation officers, behavioural investigative advisers and geographic profilers. In addition Crime Operational Support ensures that all relevant good practice in serious crime investigation is identified and disseminated.

Crime Operational Support can also provide assistance with case study workshops and seminars. Case study workshops have proved a valued tool in providing Senior Investigating Officers with ideas for progressing enquiries. At both national and regional seminars are held offering an opportunity for the continuous professional development of SIOs.

Crime Operational Support Advidors include:

  • Regional Advisers and Crime Investigation Support Officers (CISOs)
  • National Search, Interview and Family Liaison Advisers
  • Behavioural Investigative Advisers
  • Geographic Profiler
  • Physical Evidence Section
  • The National Injuries Database

National Injuries Database

The National Injuries Database is part of the Physical Evidence Section and is a national resource to support serious crime investigations for the analysis of weapons and wounds.

It is mainly victim focused and can search for cases to identify possible similarities between a victim's wound/s and specific injury patterns and/or possible weapons. This is particularly useful for an investigation team in cases where the nature of the injuries are unknown and the weapon has not been identified. The database currently holds over 4,000 cases of suspicious deaths, homicides and clinical cases. It also has more than 20,000 images.

Medical, forensic, scientific and police reports combined with photographs, x-rays and videos provide information for the NID. It is anticipated that future developments will allow the NID to be linked into the national pathology system to increase the size and breadth of the data.

Services that are available through the NID include:

  • The Serious, Sexual Assault and Attempted Murders Database. This is linked to the NID allowing comparisons of injuries to be made between live and dead victims.
  • The Comparison Programme. This can display photographs from up to four cases simultaneously on one screen. This can be useful for the identification of a potential series.
  • To support and coordinate, with an independent image consultant, the technique of digital superimposition/image overlay used to compare weapon images with wound patterns. This has frequently been used for potential footwear impressions on skin.
  • To facilitate and support the provision of second opinion and cold case review work. A wealth of expertise has been generated through close working relationships with Home Office pathologists and other medical experts.

Police National Missing Persons Bureau (PNMPB)

The Police National Missing Persons Bureau will be moved from New Scotland Yard in April 2008 to sit within the NPIA at Bramshill.

The PNMPB acts as the centre for the exchange of information connected with the search for missing persons nationally and internationally.

This specialist unit focuses on cross matching missing persons with unidentified persons/bodies. Other key activities include:

  • Maintaining records of missing persons and unidentified persons/bodies
  • Maintaining a dental index of ante-mortem chartings of long term missing persons and post-mortem chartings from unidentified bodies
  • Managing a missing persons and Child Rescue Alert website
  • While these services will continue under NPIA, the investigative support service will be significantly enhanced to ensure that missing person investigations and reviews receive access to specialist in-house advice whenever needed.
  • Sitting alongside the Serious Crime Analysis Section, the bureau will provide tactical analytical support to inquiries and produce strategic assessments of the missing person phenomenon in the UK.

Further developments will include:

  • Carrying out analysis of data, identifying trends, patterns of disappearance and developing the potential capability to produce strategic and tactical assessments
  • Reviewing the current state of unidentified bodies within forces and encouraging forensic reviews where possible
  • Raising missing persons awareness
  • Developing policy and best practice


The NPIA offers training courses at four core sites:

From April 2008 the Asset Recovery Agency will become part of the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the ARA Centre of Excellence, which trains and accredits Financial Investigators, will be moved to the National Policing Improvement Agency.[11]


The Following Police Technology Programmes are managed by the NPIA, as an extension of the role of the former Police Information Technology Organisation (PITO), some parts (but not all) of which it subsumed:

  • AirwaveSpeak
  • Corporate Data Model (CorDM) and Corporate XML (CorXML) for the Police Service
  • HOLMES2 and CasWeb
  • Identity Access Management (IAM)
  • Impact Nominal Index
  • Information Systems Strategy for the Police Service (ISS4PS)
  • Lantern
  • Mobile Information
  • National Firearms Licensing Management System (NFLMS)
  • National Management Information System (NMIS)
  • National Strategy for Police Information Systems (NSPIS) - Browser Access
  • National Strategy for Police Information Systems (NSPIS) - Command and Control (CnC)
  • National Strategy for Police Information Systems (NSPIS) - Custody and Case Preparation Programme
  • National Strategy for Police Information Systems (NSPIS) - Human Resources (HR)
  • National Video Identification Strategy (NVIS)
  • PentiP - Penalty Notice Processing
  • PNN - Police National Network
  • The Vehicle Procedures and Fixed Penalty Office (VP/FPO) system

The Facial Images National Database (FIND) project, and a project to deliver a national case management system for child abuse investigations, were cancelled in early 2008 due to budget pressures.

See also

External links


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