National Crime Agency

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is a national law enforcement agency in the United Kingdom. It is the UK's lead agency against organised crime; human, weapon and drug trafficking; Cybercrime; and economic crime that goes across regional and international borders, but can be tasked to investigate any crime. The NCA has a strategic role in which it looks at the bigger picture across the UK, analysing how criminals are operating and how they can be disrupted. To do this it works closely with regional organised crime units (ROCUs), the Serious Fraud Office, as well as individual police forces.

National Crime Agency
MottoLeading the UK’s fight to cut serious and organised crime
Agency overview
Formed7 October 2013; 7 years ago (2013-10-07)
Preceding agencies
Annual budget£458.8 million (2020/2021)[1]
Jurisdictional structure
National agency
(Operations jurisdiction)
United Kingdom
Operations jurisdictionUnited Kingdom
Jurisdiction of the National Crime Agency
Legal jurisdictionFull in England and Wales and Northern Ireland; limited in Scotland
Operational structure
Headquarters1–6 Citadel Place, Tinworth Street, London SE11 5EF
Sworn officers1,791
Overall workforces4,194
Elected officer responsible
Agency executive
Parent agencyHome Office
Child agencies
National Crime Agency, London.

It is the UK point of contact for foreign agencies such as Interpol, Europol and other international law enforcement agencies. On a day-to-day basis the NCA assists police forces and other law enforcement agencies and vice versa under voluntary assistance arrangements. In extremis, the NCA Director-General (currently Lynne Owens), has the power to direct a chief officer of a police force to give directed assistance with NCA tasks where necessary (but only with consent of the relevant Secretary of State),[3] making her one of the most senior law enforcement leaders in the country.[4] The NCA itself can also be directed by the Secretary of State to give directed assistance to a police force or other law enforcement agency. It is not known if these directed assistance powers have ever been used.[5]

It was established in 2013 as a non-ministerial government department,[6] replacing the Serious Organised Crime Agency and absorbing the formerly separate Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) as one of its commands.[7] It also assumed a number of responsibilities of other law enforcement agencies.

The NCA has also taken on a range of functions from the National Policing Improvement Agency, which has been scrapped as part of the government's changes to policing.[8] These include a specialist database relating to injuries and unusual weapons, expert research on potential serial killers, and the National Missing Persons Bureau. The agencies going into the NCA had a combined budget of £812m, yet the new agency only had £464m in its first year—a decrease of 43%.[9] Some of the responsibilities of the former UK Border Agency (now Immigration Enforcement and Border Force) relating to border policing also became part of the NCA. Like its predecessor SOCA, the NCA has been dubbed the "British FBI" by the media.[3]