The development of the new National Crime Agency (NCA) has taken a crucial step forward today as the Crime and Courts Bill achieved Royal Assent.
It marks a fundamental milestone for establishing the Agency’s powers to lead the fight against serious, organised and complex crime, including strengthening border defences, accelerating efforts against economic crime, tackling the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, and confronting cyber crime.
The Agency will be vested with those powers within weeks and will then exist as a shadow Agency until it becomes fully operational in October 2013.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
“Serious and organised crime has a real and damaging effect on the lives of people across the UK. Its effects are pervasive and debilitating to society.
“I am pleased that with Royal Assent granted today we are a step closer to establishing the National Crime Agency – a body of operational crime fighters ready to confront the crime gangs who threaten the safety and security of our country.”
Other measures which will now come into force through the Crime and Courts Act include:
• Removal of the full right of appeal in family visa visit cases and the removal of in-country appeal rights from individuals excluded from the UK by the Home Secretary;
• strengthening the powers of immigration officers to tackle serious and organised immigration-related crime;
• introducing a new drug driving offence of driving, or being in a charge of a motor vehicle, with concentrations of specified controlled substances in excess of specified levels; and
• a forum bar to extradition so that where prosecution is possible in both the UK and in another state, the British courts will be able to bar prosecution overseas, if they believe it is in the interests of justice to do so.
Tackling organised crime
Alongside Keith Bristow as NCA Director General, the Home Office has already appointed a number of senior officers to key posts to ensure the NCA is best placed to prevent and investigate criminal gangs when it becomes fully operational later this year.
Serious, organised and complex crime is an increasingly sophisticated threat to our national security, the safety of our communities and the prosperity of our economy. It is estimated to cost the UK economy between £20 billion and £40 billion a year.