Nov 07 2012

What exactly is the City of London police?

Posted by: Nick Shaxson in: Thoughts

It’s a good question. Is it a police force? Well, yes, it is, kind of. After all, its “About Us” page says this:

“We are committed to fighting crime at all levels. Although we fulfil a national role tackling fraud and other serious criminality, our local role is no less important to us.”

But already, the questions begin. That same front page, in the very, very top paragraph, also says this:

“The City of London is the world’s leading international financial and business centre. It is an area where disruption to ‘business as usual’ would have significant impact on the diverse range of business interests located here.

What on earth does that mean? Why would a police force highlight that above everything else (even above the bit about fighting crime?)

A year ago or so I got an email, which contained this (I’ve asked the author whether I may identify him; no response yet.) The bit in bold is the key part: boy, is that a question that needs some answers.

“I used to be a tax inspector and worked in what was then called Special Office investigating offshore tax avoidance and evasion. Curiously very little specialist training was given on the complex laws and powers available to combat these issues. It was all learned from the experience of colleagues and my own experience.
. . . .
Working in London it was amazing to see how blatantly the city banks peddle massive tax haven arrangements to multinationals, many of them relying on the tiniest veneer of legality.  Big 4 accountants and city lawyers were also selling such schemes but not quite in the same league as the banks.

I was particularly taken with your account of the role of the banks in running the city. So I did a little research of my own and was surprised with what I found. The banks control the City Corporation. The City Corporation controls the City of London police. The City of London police state their purpose is “to protect the UK from economic crime” and they take the lead role on that for UK policing.

So is it any wonder that the banks can get away with so much when they effectively control their own policing? Why haven’t we seen more criminal investigations of banks and bankers following the events of 2008?”

The City of London police does like to brag about its ‘lead role:”

“The City Police is the acknowledged lead force within the UK for economic crime investigation.”

OK, let’s take that at face value for now. Next, I tried to find out what the City of London police’s strategic objectives are. I couldn’t get a clear steer from their extensive ‘policies’ page, but one entry, related to police procurement, provides this:

Strategic Aims

1. Complies with the City of London Corporation financial regulations.
. . .
6.    Promotes the strategic objectives of the City of London Corporation.

A couple of questions now. What are the City of London Corporation financial regulations? (The City Corporation is not the regulator for UK financial services.) Second, this is a police procurement document, but does the City of London Police have point six as its own strategic objective? I could not find out on a(n admittedly fairly hasty) search, and I do note that all the documents I looked at on the ‘policies’ page were crammed with the curious words ‘NOT PROTECTIVELY MARKED‘ in angry red capitals, on page after page. (What is protectively marked? Can we see it please?) But I think it is safe to say – until someone shows me otherwise – that a key strategic objective of the City of London police is to “promote the strategic objectives of the City of London Corporation.”

So the next question, then, is: what are the strategic objectives of the City of London Corporation?

Well, they are laid out here, in its September 2011 Core Strategy Document, from p17 onwards, and include:

To maintain the City’s position as the world’s leading international financial and business centre.

So if the City of London police is “the acknowledged lead force within the UK for economic crime investigation”, and if it has as one of its (indirect) objectives to maintain the global pre-eminence of the City financial services, then what on earth is it doing trying to fight financial crime? The objective of promoting an ever bigger  financial centre directly conflicts with the objective of fighting financial crime: the more you relax law enforcement and turn a blind eye to dirty money, the more will come. It’s a simple formula used by every tax haven in the world, and which I’ve written extensively about in Treasure Islands.

This is really a gigantic black hole in global finance, which nobody is pointing to. I asked a knowledgeable ex-copper about all this, and got this reply back this morning:

“Oh, the City of London Police, or as we used to refer to them ‘…The best little police force money can buy…’

The City of London Police have always been the plaything of the City Corporation.
. . .
They were always treated with a far greater degree of consideration by the Corporation than us nasty roughnecks in the Met, and they did their absolute best to make sure that if we had investigations which took us down to the Square Mile, then they would deal with those aspects of the enquiry. Then they just told us what the City fathers wanted us to know. They did as they were told because they knew which side their bread was buttered.

I had no time for them, and as far as I was concerned, they were full of shit.

They had a very strong Freemasonic thing going because so many of the City suits were on the Square, and that’s where a lot of skulduggery got organised, so I tended to steer clear of them as much as possible.

I know that they are trying to make a case for being the lead agency for fraud investigation in the UK, but they haven’t sorted that out with ACPO [Association of Chief Police Officers] as far as I know, and the last time I spoke to a mate of mine on the ACPO financial crime sub-committee, things were still the same and ACPO weren’t going to go along with the City’s proposals.”

I have to get on a plane for Brazil now, so I don’t have time for more digging, or to find out the latest status re ACPO.

But this cursory search today has been extraordinary. Why haven’t Britain’s journalists been asking more questions about this?

If you haven’t read Treasure Islands yet, then I suggest you do: this blog will make a lot more (appalling) sense.

9 comments so far

James Mac 11th November, 2012 10.33 pm

I can explain the “not protectively marked” bit, but I’d prefer to do it privately. Drop me a line and I’ll explain.

Nicholas Shaxson 11th November, 2012 3.16 pm

Will do, thanks. Happy to update the post with new information too. My email should be in your inbox.

Strategist 11th November, 2012 12.42 am

Superb post. Abolition of the City of London Corporation and the vesting of its assets with a democratically accountable authority (the Greater London Authority makes sense), must of course mean the abolition of City of London Police. Its local duties to the Met and its financial fraud duties to some new kind of British FBI.
Is there an organisation campaigning for these objectives one can join? Because I would like to do so.

peter's two pence worth 1th January, 2013 9.59 pm

I am a reactionary, and I like how the City of London works in general. That includes the City Police.

Nick Shaxson 1th January, 2013 3.05 pm

thanks for those pearls.

[…] fine quote. (And you might ask: what is the City of London Police?) Some long discussion about his experiences, including: “Those are the skills of the way of […]

[…] What Exactly is the City of London Police? […]

Joseph A. Todd 12th December, 2014 7.56 pm

[…] of the financial sector, found that their policy page (now deleted but referenced in his blog post here) states that two of their “strategic aims” are to: 1. Complies with the City of London […]

Paul 12th December, 2015 8.23 am

What a dickhead! You know nothing about the City Police you twat!

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