UK & World News
British FBI-Style Crime Agency Starts Its Work
The head of 'Britain's FBI' has warned crime bosses there will be "no one beyond the reach" of the new crime-fighting agency.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) starts its work today, armed with an annual budget of nearly half a billion pounds to tackle serious and organised crime involving some 37,000 criminals.
More than 4,000 NCA officers will tackle crime under four commands - organised crime, economic crime, border policing and child exploitation and online protection - alongside a National Cyber Crime Unit.
Asked if the new law enforcement arm would be able to bring the fight to the "higher echelons" of organised crime, NCA director general Keith Bristow said: "To be clear, there will be no one beyond the reach of law enforcement or beyond the reach of the NCA.
"Those people involved in the most horrible activities can expect the most comprehensive and robust response."
The launch of the NCA spells the end of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which is to be absorbed into the new organisation.
Proposals for the new agency were first unveiled by Home Secretary Theresa May in July 2010 as part of a broader shake-up of the policing landscape.
At the time she said the US-style agency would have a sweeping new power to step in to directly task and co-ordinate police forces in a bid to tackle organised crime and secure the UK's borders.
Mrs May claimed that too many of the 6,000 organised crime gangs in the UK were escaping justice and a tough new approach was needed.
The NCA has an annual budget of £463m for resources and £31m for capital, Mr Bristow confirmed.
It will run the country's first national intelligence hub, place investigators at UK ports to tackle border crime such as human trafficking and will track down child-sex abusers online.
It will also place around 120 officers overseas in 40 different countries.
Mr Bristow, a former chief constable of Warwickshire Police, said unlike Soca, the NCA would not operate as a covert organisation and wants to be recognised by the public.
Some of its officers will wear jackets and caps emblazoned with NCA when on operations.
Mr Bristow said: "We're going to be visible. We want the public to know who we are, what we do, what we're delivering, to understand the serious and organised crime threat that affects every neighbourhood and every citizen throughout the UK."
He added: "Frankly, we want the criminals to know who we are, because we want them to fear our attention."
The NCA will also be recruiting "special" officers - volunteers like special constables in police forces.
NCA specials with expert backgrounds such as in cyber or the financial sector are set to join the agency.
Mrs May said: "I want to make Britain a hostile environment for serious and organised criminals, with the new National Crime Agency leading that fight."