Strong start demonstrated by the NCA

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has made a strong start in creating a new national law enforcement agency, according to a report published today by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).

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An inspection of the National Crime Agency

The NCA was created in October 2013 to lead the UK’s fight against serious and organised crime. This is the first inspection of the NCA by HMIC and the report published today is a public version of the report submitted to the Home Secretary in December 2014.

HM Inspector of Constabulary Stephen Otter said:

“The NCA is still a young organisation that will take time to reach its optimum effectiveness, but in this, our first inspection of its efficiency and effectiveness, we found that it has made a strong start. It has already built productive relationships with police forces and other agencies which have already produced joint operations where organised criminals have been brought to justice.

“All mergers of organisations are challenging, but merging so many different aspects of law enforcement into one organisation – at a time when organised criminals are rapidly using the internet to commit crimes – makes this merger particularly difficult. There are considerable challenges ahead, in particular the need to quickly invest in new technology and capabilities to tackle the fast-changing threat that organised criminals pose. The evidence from our inspection shows that the leadership of the NCA understands the challenges it faces and has good plans in place to successfully achieve its aims.”

HMIC’s inspection covered the NCA’s efficiency and effectiveness in three areas:

  • the NCA’s statutory functions of ‘criminal intelligence’ and ‘crime-reduction’;
  • the NCA’s new processes to work with other agencies and organisations and to structure itself internally; and
  • the NCA’s progress towards its aims.

The NCA has already made significant achievements in its relationships with other organisations and in the sharing of intelligence that is clearly underway, but there are considerable challenges in making the necessary investments in technology and analytical capability. The majority of the nineteen areas that need improvement relate to the way the NCA obtains and works with criminal intelligence.

The NCA has a significant crime-fighting capacity and the Agency is rigorous in the prioritisation, supervision and management of its investigations into some of the UK’s most serious criminals.

Operation Notarise demonstrated what the NCA can achieve – its ability to co-ordinate the effort of police forces across the country to target child sexual offenders, and bring justice to the most vulnerable members of society was encouraging.

However the NCA has limited capacity to collect communications data during periods of high demand, such as that during Operation Notarise, and HMIC recommends that, in such circumstances, the NCA should be able to share this work with the police and other agencies. This would require a change in legislation to enable such co-operation.

Although there is some very sophisticated equipment being put to good use at the NCA, we found that considerable improvements need to be made to the IT that is available to NCA officers to help them to do their work effectively. Since the inspection, the NCA has made good progress in introducing new IT capability.

HMIC found improved relationships and a clear commitment to work together from the NCA and the various organisations it engages with, but HMIC recommends that roles and responsibilities for the various groups and committees should be better defined and strategic action plans be brought up to date where necessary.

Following on from its positive start, the NCA needs to continue to demonstrate strong leadership and commitment to deliver its plan, the Novo programme, to transform the Agency’s capabilities.

HMIC has a statutory responsibility to inspect the NCA. This inspection is the first in an ongoing programme and the NCA will be inspected again in 2015/16.

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An inspection of the National Crime Agency


  1. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) is an independent inspectorate, inspecting policing in the public interest, and rigorously examines the efficiency and effectiveness of police forces to tackle crime and terrorism, improve criminal justice and raise confidence. HMIC inspects all 43 police forces in England and Wales, together with other major policing bodies.
  2. For further information, HMIC’s press office can be contacted during office hours from 8:30am – 5:00pm Monday – Friday on 020 3513 0600.
  3. HMIC’s out-of-hours press office line for urgent media enquiries is 07836 217 729