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Britain gets its own FBI with new National Crime Agency

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NCA (Security News Desk)
NCA (Security News Desk)

The UK government is taking a tougher approach to organized crime this week by unveiling an FBI-like National Crime Agency (NCA). At first glance it might look similar to the National Security Agency (NSA) naming used in the US, but Britain's new crime agency will focus on organized crime, cybercrime, and even border policing rather than monitoring and surveillance. The NCA naming effectively replaces the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), and it will be backed by local police forces with a staff of 4,500 and a budget of £463 million.

"Organized crime is a national security threat."

UK Home Secretary Theresa May told Reuters "that in the past organized crime hasn't been given sufficient focus," before noting that "organized crime is a national security threat." The increased focus means NCA officers will hold the power of a constable, immigration officer, and customs officer to tackle a host of crimes. Although there are clear comparisons to the FBI — officers will even wear black tunics with the NCA logo — the agency won't be involved in national security or terrorism issues like the FBI is in the US.

While the UK is building up its own cyber army, the NCA will be tasked with preventing the increasing threat of cybercrime in the UK. Fraudsters are using sophisticated methods to attack banks remotely, and the UK government admits it needs to alter its response. "Organized crime is changing, it's becoming more diverse, it's becoming international, it's more online," says May. "As crime changes, we need to change our response too."