The National Crime Agency (NCA) becomes operational today, with senior ministers and directors promising to put the challenge of cyber-crime at the core of the agency’s priorities.
Replacing the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the NCA is being positioned as a single law enforcement agency that will be responsible for leading the national response to organised crime – this covers everything from cross-border criminal networks, cyber-crime, as well as tracking down child sex abusers using the internet to target children.
Announcing the launch of the new National Crime Agency, 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.”
Some 4,000 officers will work with law enforcement across the UK and abroad, where the NCA will have the mandate and powers to lead and co-ordinate police forces across the country.
The NCA will have a National Cyber Crime Unit, which will be a combination of the cyber function that was built up under SOCA and the Metropolitan Police’s e-crime unit, which was brought in under the NCA’s control having built up a strong reputation in recent years.
The City of London’s Police Commissioner, Adrian Leppard, recently told Computerworld UK that the government has made strides in protecting the country against cyber-crime and with the introduction of the NCA, the UK is on a par with other global leaders.
"We are a lot further on than the general commentator thinks and we are a lot further on than a lot of other countries. We are comparable to America in terms of policy, investment and technical capability. We are with the pack worldwide – but it doesn’t mean we are ahead of the threat, the threat is massive and it is growing exponentially," he said.
As well as cyber, the Agency will have three other command units: Organised Crime, Economic Crime, Border Policing and Child Exploitation and Online Protection.
Keith Bristow, Director General of the National Crime Agency said: “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.”