News story

Leading the fight against serious and organised crime: National Crime Agency becomes fully operational in Northern Ireland

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Serious and organised criminals in Northern Ireland will face the full force of the National Crime Agency (NCA) after its powers were extended in a landmark agreement.

Karen Bradley

Members of the Northern Ireland Assembly agreed to an Order making the NCA fully operational following months of talks involving the Home Office, Department of Justice for Northern Ireland, NCA, the Northern Ireland Office and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

Minister for Modern Slavery and Organised Crime Karen Bradley signed the Order this week. Some powers come into effect immediately while others will be introduced in two months.

The extension of powers includes measures which will significantly improve the NCA’s ability to recover assets – now widened to cover all crimes, including devolved offences - and disrupt serious and organised criminals.

And the NCA’s activity in Northern Ireland is subject to transparent accountability as proposed by the Northern Ireland Justice Minister and agreed by MLAs.

Organised Crime Minister Karen Bradley said:

We are extremely pleased an agreement has been reached enabling the National Crime Agency to be fully operational in Northern Ireland.

This will make Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK a safer place and ensure the most serious and organised criminals can be pursued wherever they are.

The NCA’s activity in Northern Ireland will be subject to a range of robust safeguards and local oversight which the government fully supports.

Under the terms of the Order, NCA officers will only be able to exercise police powers with the agreement of the Chief Constable of PSNI (except in cases where PSNI officers are themselves under investigation). Use of covert techniques will also be subject to PSNI approval.

In addition, the Northern Ireland Policing Board will oversee the work of the NCA in Northern Ireland and the Police Ombudsman will have responsibility for investigating complaints about NCA officers operating there.

Published 20 March 2015