The government has today launched the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), the UK’s equivalent of the FBI, to tackle organised crime, including sophisticated computer-based fraud and money laundering.
Prime minister Tony Blair said it was important that law enforcement agencies should have the ability to tackle “21st century crime with 21st century methods”.
More than 4,000 officers from the police, customs and immigration services will be rolled into the new organisation, which will focus on financial crimes, counterfeiting, drugs, people smuggling and other organised crimes.
The existing National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), which up to now has been responsible for tackling serious computer-based crime, is being integrated into SOCA.
SOCA, a body separate from the national police force, will have as its chairman Stephen Lander, former head of domestic spying organisation MI5.
In addition, Paul Evans will lead the new organisation’s attempts to get back ill-gotten gains from criminals. Evans previously held senior positions with foreign secret service MI6.
The Conservative opposition said the national body would have broad popular support among the population, but it was important that resources to tackle crime should not be diverted from local policing efforts.