A powerful new National Crime Agency (NCA) will spearhead the UK’s fight against serious and organised crime, strengthen policing at the border and ensure local policing effectively links to the work of national agencies and action overseas, the Home Secretary confirmed today.
Organised crime costs the UK public between £20 billion and £40 billion each year and affects the everyday lives of individuals. The NCA will be responsible for tackling these crimes which include child abuse, drug and people smuggling, illegal immigration, fraud, cyber crime and many other serious and organised crimes.
Until now there has been no national overview or means of co-ordinating and focusing the law enforcement response to get to grips with the scale and complexity of the problem. This has led to too many of the 6,000 groups involved in organised crime in the UK escaping justice.
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
‘The impact of serious and organised crime is felt across the UK in the everyday lives of people and neighbourhoods.
‘For too long we have lacked a strong, collaborative national response in the fight for criminal justice, with a fragmented approach to policy, prevention and investigation. It is time for a fresh start.
‘By creating a powerful new body of operational crime fighters - the National Crime Agency - we will confront the serious and organised criminality that threatens the safety and security of the UK.
‘The NCA will work in partnership with the police, law enforcement agencies, businesses and the public to ensure those who commit serious and organised crime are tracked down, pursued, brought to justice and their ill gotten gains are stripped away.’
At the heart of the NCA will be an intelligence hub which will build and maintain a national intelligence picture of the threats, harms and risks to the UK from organised criminals. This information will be used to prioritise criminals and task police and law enforcement agencies to ensure there is an appropriate operational response.
The NCA will employ investigators, enforcement officers, intelligence analysts and technical, financial and operational specialists. Trained officers will have police, customs and immigration powers and use the latest technology and investigative and disruption tools to tackle criminal activity.
The NCA will be made up of four distinct parts or ‘commands’ - Organised Crime, Border Policing, Economic Crime and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). The commands will be linked to the NCA’s intelligence centre which will ensure information flows to and from the police and other law enforcement agencies in support of tactical operational activity.
- The Organised Crime Command will lead on action against organised crime groups across local, national and international borders. The Command will work with police forces and other agencies to ensure that prioritised and appropriate action is taken against every organised crime group identified.
- The Border Policing Command will co-ordinate and set the strategy for law enforcement agencies operating at the UK border. NCA officers, the UK Border Agency, Special Branch Ports officers, the police and others will work together under a single Border Security Strategy to ensure illegal goods are seized, illegal immigrants dealt with and networks of organised criminals more effectively targeted and disrupted both overseas and at ports up and down the UK.
- The Economic Crime Command will ensure an innovative and improved capability to deal with economic crimes, including those carried out by organised criminals. It will co-ordinate effective action to tackle complex economic crime and will ensure the coherent use of resources across all national economic crime fighting agencies including the Serious Fraud Office and City of London Police.
- The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre will retain its vital national role, unique identity and capabilities, while benefiting from shared intelligence across the NCA. This intelligence will highlight where child exploitation and abuse links to other forms of serious organised criminality and shared enforcement resources will enable wider ranging and more effective operations.
Commands will benefit from the sharing of intelligence and analytical capabilities, specialist support, investigative and enforcement resources and the drawing in and support of law enforcement agencies.
Notes to editors
1. Subject to legislation, the NCA will be fully operational by December 2013.
Through its tasking and co-ordination function, the NCA will set the agenda for tackling serious and organised crime across the law enforcement capabilities of police forces, UKBA, HMRC and a number of other law enforcement agencies.
NCA officers will be employed from a range of backgrounds and specialisms. As operational crime fighters, they will be able to make full use of a wide range of law enforcement and investigative powers. Subject to training, NCA officers can be given the powers of a police constable, customs powers and the powers of an immigration officer.
The NCA will be accountable to the Home Secretary. It will be open, collaborative and unbureaucratic, working with Police and Crime Commissioners, chief constables, devolved administrations and others to connect crime fighting activity from the local to the international.
Organised crime costs the UK between £20 billion to £40 billion each year. There are around 38,000 organised criminals in the UK and around 6,000 organised crime groups (Policing in the 21st Century - Home Office 2010). This estimated total cost of organised crime to the UK includes £17.6bn (trafficking of controlled drugs), £7.8bn (financial crime) and a proportion of the £27bn cost of all cyber crime. Research suggests that around six per cent of homicides have some link to, or are driven by, organised crime. There were an estimated 2,600 trafficked female victims of sexual exploitation in England and Wales during the 12 months from January 2009.
The government has set out a clear vision for 21st century policing: rebalancing accountability, freeing the service from central government interference, replacing bureaucratic accountability with democratic accountability, returning discretion to the frontline and enabling and supporting police to exercise their professional judgement.
At the forefront of this is the need to secure the ‘golden thread’ of policing in this country - the connection from local neighbourhood policing through national responses and international policing. The government is giving more opportunities for local determination with stronger local accountability, whilst ensuring real leadership where national organisation is required.
Policing in the 21st Century (published July 2010) sets out the intention to establish a National Crime Agency and strengthen border policing arrangements through a border policing command.
A copy of the NCA Plan can be viewed online.