'Britain's FBI' is launched

The National Crime Agency to tackle the country's most serious organised crimes, dubbed 'Britain's FBI', is launched today. It is the third major reorganisation of crime agencies in 15 years.

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May: Organised crime is a threat to our national security

Crime bosses who fail to pay back their ill-gotten gains face longer prison sentences under changes to the law unveiled by the Home Secretary.

As the new National Crime Agency was launched, Theresa May also revealed the Government's Serious and Organised Crime strategy.

Home Secretary Theresa May

Covering a range of plans for tackling organised criminals, it includes proposals to hit crimelords by "substantially strengthening" prison sentences for failing to pay confiscation orders.

Mrs May said: "Organised crime is a threat to our national security so it needs a national response to turn the full force of the state against those behind the most serious crimes."

Read: May: Organised crime is a threat to our national security

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Five arrests in NCA's first major operation

Five people have been arrested as part of a crackdown on suspected identity fraudsters in the first major operation led by the new National Crime Agency.

Officers carried out early morning raids today in Liverpool, Warrington, Bromley, south east London, Brentwood, Essex, and Troon.

An officer gathers evidence after one of the dawn raids. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

The arrested individuals are suspected of fraudulently applying for genuine passports or driving licences using hijacked or stolen identities.

The arrests followed months of planning involving major agencies such as the Metropolitan Police Service, National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, HM Passport office and the DVLA.

NCA officers carry out a series of training exercises

The National Crime Agency to tackle the country's most serious organised crimes has been launched today.

Its officers recently carried out a series of training exercises

Officers of the newly formed National Crime Agency on a training exercise.
The officers carry out a 'raid' on a property.
A car is stopped during this training centre exercise Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Read: 'Britain's FBI' launched

Vaz asks whether the NCA's budget will be big enough

Keith Vaz, the chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee has questioned the budget of the National Crime Agency and whether it is large enough to cover its new remit.

chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee Keith Vaz. Credit: Press Association

He told the BBC: "The organisations going into the NCA have a combined budget of £812m, yet the new agency will only have £473.9m next year.

"The Home Office needs to account for where this money has gone."

Labour: NCA doesn't match the Government's hype

Shadow policing minister David Hanson says The National Crime Agency "doesn't match the Government's hype".

He added: "It is welcome the NCA has finally arrived after three years of delay and we support strengthening work on organised crime and the hard work of Keith Bristow and his team.

Shadow Policing minister David Hanson says the NCA "doesn't match the Government's hype". Credit: Press Association

"But most of the NCA is just the rebranding of existing organisations such as the Serious Organised Crime Agency, but with a substantial 20 percent cut imposed by the Home Office in their overall budget.

"The new organisation is not strong enough to deal with the exponential growth of economic and online crime. It will simply absorb the existing National Cyber Crime but with fewer resources.

"And due to Government mishandling it won't be able to operate in Northern Ireland leaving a serious operational gap compared to the Serious Organised Crime Agency that it replaced."

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NCA chief: We want the public to know who we are

Director General of the NCA, former Warwickshire Police Chief Constable Keith Bristow, says unlike Soca, the new agency would not operate as a covert organisation and wants to be recognised by the public.

Officers of the newly formed National Crime Agency during a training exercise. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

Some of its officers will wear jackets and caps emblazoned with NCA when on operations.

"We're going to be visible," he said. "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 effects 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."

What is the National Crime Agency?

  • 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.
  • The NCA has an annual budget of £463 million for resources and £31 million for capital.
  • The NCA 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.

Newly formed National Crime Agency goes live

The head of the newly formed National Crime Agency, dubbed 'Britain's FBI', has warned the Mr Bigs of the underworld there will be "no one beyond the reach" of the new agency.

The agency, which goes live today, has a budget of nearly half-a-billion pounds a year and will lead the fight against the estimated 37,000 criminals involved in serious and organised crime that hits the UK.

Officers of the newly formed National Crime Agency during a training exercise. Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire

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.

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."