The United Kingdom have today launched the new National Crime Agency (NCA) which some have already described as being the British equivalent of the FBI.

The new law enforcement agency has been given a wide scope but is fundamentally concerned with responding to organised crime including international fraud, cross-border criminal networks and unearthing sex offenders who target children online.

The topic of cybercrime will be at the forefront of the agency’s work with new Director General Keith Bristow saying,

“The NCA is a UK-wide crime-fighting agency, which will have the capability to tackle serious and organised crime in areas that have previously had a fragmented response, such as the border, cyber and economic crime, and those where we need to increase our impact, like child protection and human trafficking.

The NCA will be at the centre of a reformed policing landscape that will co-ordinate the fight against some of the United Kingdom’s most sophisticated and harmful criminals.”

The NCA is made up of four commands: Organised Crime, Economic Crime, Border Policing and Child Exploitation and Online Protection and a National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU).

The NCCU sees the merging of the Metropolitan Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) and the cyber arm of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

The NCA’s website says,

“Using the NCA’s single intelligence picture, the NCCU works with partners to identify and understand the growing use of cyber as an enabler across all crime types.

It can then determine the most effective ways of tackling the threat. It encourages the mainstreaming of cyber investigative capability and dedicated operational support on cyber and cyber-enabled crime.

The NCCU provides a joined-up national response to cyber and cyber-enabled crime, ensuring that expertise is focused where it can deliver the most impact and add most value.”

Of particular note in regard to the role that will be played by the NCCU is a comment saying that it will “target criminal vulnerabilities” which suggests to me that the agency will be somewhat proactive in disrupting criminal activity.

The National Crime Agency as a whole employs some 4,000 plus officers “to ensure a consistent and co-ordinated approach to continuously disrupt the most serious criminals and groups.” The NCA will lead the fight against organised crime as well as having the power to both co-ordinate and lead other areas of law enforcement within the UK.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said,

“I want to make Britain a hostile environment for serious and organised criminals, with the new National Crime Agency leading that fight.

For the first time we now have a single national agency harnessing intelligence to relentlessly disrupt organised criminals at home and abroad with its own warranted officers, and the power to lead officers from other law enforcement agencies in coordinating that activity.

The new National Crime Agency will mean that there will be no hiding places for human traffickers, cyber criminals and drugs barons.”

Those sitting on the opposite side of The House Of Commons were less enthusiastic about the future of the NCA though with shadow policing minister David Hanson saying that it “doesn’t match the government’s hype.”

Hanson also said,

“Most of the NCA is just the rebranding of existing organisations such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency, but with a substantial 20% cut imposed by the Home Office on their overall budget.

The new organisation is not strong enough to deal with the exponential growth of economic and online crime.”

Of particular note to SecurityWatch readers was his comment that,

“It is extremely worrying that organised crime which crosses between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK will not be properly dealt with because the Home Secretary mishandled the legislation with the relevant parties in Northern Ireland.”

What are your views on the new agency?

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