UK will launch its own version of the FBI in April

Nick Assinder |

The National Crime Agency, dubbed Britain’s FBI, will be up and running in shadow form by April next year and will be formally launched six months later with a full compliment of more than 4,000 staff, according to its first director general, Keith Bristow.

Until then, existing organisations, including the Serious Organised Crime Agency, will continue to lead the fight against the most serious offenders.

The Warwickshire Chief Constable told the Home Affairs Committee: “We are developing shadow arrangements and my ambition is that around April or May next year we will have moved into a set of arrangements that are in effect a shadow National Crime Agency.” Vesting of the NCA should follow on 1 October.

He played down the “British FBI” label, pointing out Britain did not have the same federal and state jurisdictions that existed in the US.

But he said there was plenty the NCA could learn from the FBI and other organisations, adding: “My very strong view is that this is an opportunity to join up the whole law enforcement effort against criminals who do not respect geographic or agency boundaries.

Bristow also rejected criticisms of the outgoing agency, SOCA, by committee member David Winnick who suggested it had “failed to fulfil its promise”.

“I think SOCA has done some very good work and made a very real difference. But let’s be clear, we wouldn’t be making this change if everything we needed to be delivered in a modern context had been delivered. So it’s about a different model .

“SOCA was never given a remit to lead the overall law enforcement response. There was never the breadth of responsibility the NCA will have. Let’s be clear, what I am building is a law enforcement agency that will do all of that to a world class standard.”