National Crime Agency

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This article is about the United Kingdom law enforcement agency. For the former Australian agency, see National Crime Authority.
National Crime Agency
Abbreviation NCA
National Crime Agency logo.png
Logo of the National Crime Agency.
Agency overview
Formed 7 October 2013
Preceding agencies
Employees 4,500 Officers
Annual budget £494 million
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Map of the National Crime Agency's jurisdiction.svg
National Crime Agency's jurisdiction
Population 63,181,775[1]
Legal jurisdiction United Kingdom; limited in Northern Ireland
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters London, England, UK
Elected officer responsible Theresa May, Home Secretary
Agency executive Keith Bristow, Director-General
Child agency Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is a national law enforcement agency in the United Kingdom which replaced the Serious Organised Crime Agency. It became fully operational on 7 October 2013[2] and is a non-ministerial government department.[3] The NCA includes the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre as an individual command, and parts of the National Policing Improvement Agency. Some of the responsibilities of the UK Border Agency relating to border policing also became part of the NCA.[4]

Like its predecessor SOCA, the NCA has been dubbed the "British FBI" by the media. The NCA Director-General, Keith Bristow, has the power to direct regional police chiefs to concentrate their resources where necessary,[5] effectively making him the most senior police officer in the country.[6]

The NCA has over 4,500 officers, and an annual budget of £494 million.[7]


The proposed agency was first publicly announced in a statement to the House of Commons by Home Secretary Theresa May on 26 July 2010.[8] On 8 June 2011 Theresa May declared that the NCA will comprise a number of distinct operational commands: Organised Crime, Border Policing, Economic Crime and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre - and that it will house the National Cyber Crime Unit. She added that capabilities, expertise, assets and intelligence will be shared across the new agency; that each Command will operate as part of one single organisation; and that the NCA will be a powerful body of operational crime fighters, led by a senior Chief Constable and accountable to the Home Secretary. In her statement to the House of Commons, Theresa May stated that the new agency would have the authority to "undertake tasking and coordination, ensuring appropriate action is taken to put a stop to the activities of organised crime groups".[9]

In June 2011, the coalition government announced that SOCA's operations (serious drug trafficking investigative and intelligence sections) would be merged into a larger National Crime Agency to launch in 2013.

On 23 September 2011 the Home Affairs Select Committee called for the Metropolitan Police's counter-terrorism role be given to the NCA when it becomes operational saying that the terrorist threat is a "national problem" and that there would be "advantages" in transferring responsibility.[10][11]

In October 2011, it was announced that Keith Bristow, the then Chief Constable of Warwickshire Police, would head the organisation.[12]

The NCA came into being under provisions granted by the Crime and Courts Act 2013 which received Royal Assent on 25 April 2013.[13]

On 22 May 2014 at around 10:50pm, NCA Officers were involved in a shootout in Tottenham. [14] Several shots were fired, including from NCA Officers. Two men were arrested at the scene by the NCA for attempted murder and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life. The Metropolitan police arrived and arrested a third man for possession of a firearm.[15] [16] This is believed to be the first incident in which NCA officers fired shots.

On 25 May 2014 at 12:00am a second NCA operation was carried out in Tottenham along with officers from the Metropolitan police after the NCA recieved intelligence about the shoot out that had occurred 3 nights earlier. Two more men were arrested, one for attempted murder and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life and the other for assisting an offender, after their car was stopped by armed officers. One shot was fired by a Metropolitan police officer during the operation.[17]


Internally, the NCA is split into four individual commands: Border Policing, Economic Crime, Organised Crime and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). The National Cyber Crime Unit also operates within the NCA.[18] The NCA has jurisdiction to carry out operations under these commands in Great Britain, but not Northern Ireland. Due to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the NCA would not be able to carry out its policing role, as it is overseen by the Home Secretary rather than a local organisation as required by the agreement. Therefore, the agency only operates as a customs and border enforcement agency in Northern Ireland.[19]


The NCA has full operational capacity only in England & Wales. Operations in Scotland will reflect the different legal system and devolution of policing powers, with the body co-ordinating operations with Police Scotland and the Scottish Government.[20] In Northern Ireland, the agency will carry out border and customs functions only, with its other roles left to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. Consequently the NCA is subject to scrutiny by the relevant British bodies, as well as there Scottish and Northern Irish counter parts; this includes the UK Parliament, the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Irish Assembly.

Currently in Northern Ireland a political argument is taking place as to whether or not to allow the NCA to be fully operational in Northern Ireland. [21]

Powers of Arrest[edit]

NCA Officers can be designated the powers of a constable, customs officer, immigration officer, or any combination of these three sets of powers.

Current Reported Operations[edit]

In May 2014 the NCA conducted a major operation that resulted in the seizing of more than 100kg of cocaine from a Greek bulker in Scotland. The ship had been returning from Colombia and has resulted in the arrest of three men yet to be publicly named. [22]

In July 2014 the NCA with partners jointly disrupted the Shylock banking trojan believed to have infected at least 30,000 computers. [23] Also in July 2014 the NCA co-ordinated the arrest of 660 suspected paedophiles. 39 of those arrested were registered sex offenders, however the majority had not previously come to the attention of law enforcement. 400 children are believed to have been protected by this operation, which included taking down several individuals who had unsupervised access to children such as doctors, teachers and care workers.[24] [25] [26]


  1. ^ "2011 UK censuses". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  2. ^ "National Crime Agency". GOV.UK. 2013. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  3. ^ "How we are run". NCA. 2013. Retrieved 28 October 2013. 
  4. ^ "Police reform proposals outlined". BBC News. 26 July 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Johnston, Philip (7 October 2013). "The National Crime Agency: Does Britain need an FBI?". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Hughes, Mark; Gardham, Duncan (8 June 2011). "National Crime Agency head will be 'most powerful officer in UK'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  7. ^ "National Crime Agency to 'relentlessly pursue' organised crime". BBC News. 7 October 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  8. ^ "26 July 2010". Theresa May, Home Secretary. Parliamentary Debates (Hansard) (House of Commons). col. 723–724. 
  9. ^ "National Crime Agency details outlined by Theresa May". BBC News. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2013. 
  10. ^ Home Affairs Committee (23 September 2011). New Landscape of Policing: Volume 1 (Report). London: The Stationery Office. p. 43. Retrieved 12 August 2013. "Although London is a prime target for terrorist attacks, the terrorist threat is a national problem and there would be advantages in placing responsibility for counter-terrorism in the National Crime Agency"
  11. ^ "Met Police counter-terrorism role should end, MPs say". BBC News Online. BBC News. 23 September 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2013. 
  12. ^ "UK National Crime Agency head to be Keith Bristow". BBC News. 10 October 2011. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  13. ^ "Crime and Courts Bill receives Royal Assent". Home Office. 25 April 2013. Retrieved 23 May 2013. 
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "What we do". National Crime Agency. 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  19. ^ "Q&A: National Crime Agency". BBC News. 6 October 2013. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  20. ^ "Surveillance threat to crime lords as agency is launched". 7 October 2013. Retrieved 8 October 2013. 
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Law enforcement and industry collaborate to combat Shylock malware". National Crime Agency. 2014-07-10. Retrieved 2014-08-12. 
  24. ^ "UK-wide operation snares 660 suspected paedophiles". National Crime Agency. Retrieved 2014-08-12. 
  25. ^
  26. ^

External links[edit]