Oral statement to Parliament

National crime agency: oral statement by Theresa May

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

National crime agency: oral statement by Theresa May on recognising organised crime as a threat to national security.

See other Oral statements

Wednesday, 08 Jun 2011

Last year’s National Security Strategy recognised that organised crime is one of the greatest threats to our national security

Last year’s National Security Strategy recognised that organised crime is one of the greatest threats to our national security. The social and economic costs are estimated at between 20 and 40 billion pounds per year. And its impact is seen on our streets and
is felt in our communities every single day. The drug dealing on street corners; the burglary and muggings by addicts; the trafficking of vulnerable young women into prostitution; the card cloning and credit card fraud that robs so many - all are fundamentally driven by organised criminals.

Our law enforcement agencies assess that there are around 38,000 individuals engaged in organised crime, involving 6,000 criminal groups. And yet, Sir Paul Stephenson, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, said last year that law enforcement is only impacting in a meaningful way on 11% of those 6000 organised crime groups.

We must do better. For too long, central government micro-managed and interfered in local policing. But at the same time national and international level crime was neglected and our borders became porous. There was no cross-government organised crime strategy; no national tasking and co-ordination; no coordinated border policing; different agencies, with varying responsibilities for policy, prevention and investigation; and a tendency to operate in silos.

The overall effect was a fragmented and patchy law enforcement response. We are putting that right. By introducing Police and Crime Commissioners, we can get central government out of the way of local policing.

Instead, we are putting the government’s focus where it should have been all along, securing our borders and tackling national and international level serious and organised crime. So we will shortly be publishing the first ever cross-government organised crime strategy. And we will establish a powerful new operational body - the National Crime Agency.

NCA Role

The National Crime Agency will be a crime fighting organisation. It will tackle organised crime, defend our borders, fight fraud and cyber crime, and protect children and young people. With a senior Chief Constable at its head, the NCA will harness intelligence, analytical capabilities and enforcement powers.

Accountable to the Home Secretary, the NCA will be an integral part of our law enforcement community, with strong links to local police forces, Police and Crime Commissioners, the UK Border Agency and other agencies.


The NCA will comprise a number of distinct operational commands. Building on the work of SOCA, the Organised Crime Command will tackle organised crime groups, whether they operate locally, across the country or across our international borders.
Fulfilling a key pledge in the Coalition Agreement, the Border Policing Command will strengthen our borders, and help prevent terrorism, drug smuggling, people trafficking, illegal immigration and other serious crimes. It will ensure that all law enforcement agencies operating in and around the border work to clear, mutually agreed priorities.

The Economic Crime Command will make a major difference to the current fragmented response to economic crime. Working to a new unified intelligence picture, the Economic Crime Command will drive better coordination of cases, and better tasking of resources, across agencies like the Financial Services Authority, the Office of Fair Trading and the Serious Fraud Office. This will mean a greater volume and complexity of economic crime cases can be tackled. In due course, we will review the relationship between the Economic Crime Command and the other agencies.

And, building on the significant contribution which the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre already makes, as a key part of the NCA, CEOP will now be able to draw on wider resources and support to help protect even more children and young people. The NCA will also house the national cyber crime unit, which will have its own investigative capacity and will help local police forces develop their own response to the online threat.

Each Command will be led by a senior and experienced individual. It will manage its own priorities and risks. But - crucially - capabilities, expertise, assets and intelligence will be shared across the entire agency and each Command will operate as
part of one single organisation.


Intelligence will be at the heart of what the NCA does. Learning from our experience of counter-terrorism, the NCA will house a significant multi-agency intelligence capability. It will collect and analyse its own and others’ intelligence; building and maintaining a comprehensive picture of serious and organised criminals in the UK - who they are and who they work with; where they live; where they operate; what crimes they’re involved in; and what damage they cause.

The NCA will then use this intelligence to coordinate, prioritise and target action against organised criminals, with information flowing to and from the police and other agencies in support of tactical operations.

Tasking and Co-ordination

Using this intelligence picture, the NCA will have the ability and the authority to task and co-ordinate the police and other law enforcement agencies.

For the first time, there will be one agency with the power, remit and responsibility for ensuring that the right action is taken at the right time by the right people. That agency will be the NCA. All other agencies will work to the NCA’s threat assessment and
prioritisation, and it will be the NCA’s intelligence picture that will drive the response on the ground. This will be underpinned by the new Strategic Policing Requirement.


As well as its ability to coordinate and task the response to national criminal threats by the police and other agencies, the NCA will also have its own specialist operational and technological capabilities. These will include surveillance, fraud and threat to life
situations. This is a two way street - the NCA will be able to provide its techniques, and resources in support of the police and other agencies, just as it will task and coordinate the response to national level crime.

NCA officers will be able to draw on a wide range of powers, including those of a police constable, immigration or customs powers. This will mean that NCA officers - unlike anybody else - will be able to deploy powers and techniques that go beyond the powers of a police officer.


The Agency will be an integral part of the golden thread of policing which runs from the local to the national and beyond. At home, the NCA will work in partnership with police forces, Chief Constables, Police and Crime Commissioners and agencies such as the UK Border Agency. Overseas, it will represent the UK’s interests, working with international law enforcement partners. It will also provide the central UK contact for European and International law enforcement.

Next Steps

The Agency will come fully into being in 2013, with some key elements becoming operational sooner. The total cost of the organisation will not exceed the aggregate costs of its predecessors. The combination of a single intelligence picture; the tasking
and co-ordination function; the specialist operational support; and the Operational commands will result in a dramatic improvement in our response to national and international level crime.


Mr. Speaker, Organised crime, border crime, economic crime, cyber crime and child exploitation are real problems, for real people. All areas of the country suffer their effects - from the very poorest communities to the most affluent; from the smallest villages to the biggest cities. And it is often the most vulnerable in our society who suffer the greatest harm.

We owe it to them to do more to tackle the scourge of drugs, to better defend our borders, to fight fraud, and to protect our children and young people. The National Crime Agency will do all of those things and more.

I commend this statement to the House.