LONDON – Britain’s new FBI-style crime-fighting agency was launched Monday with a threat to hit the country’s most “horrible” criminals with a robust response.
The National Crime Agency has 4,500 dedicated officers and is aimed at tackling the estimated 37,000 criminals involved in serious and organized crime blighting Britain.
The agency has an annual budget of £500 million ($800 million) and focuses on five key areas: organized crime; economic crime; border policing; child exploitation and online protection; and cybercrime.
Although focusing on crime in Britain, it will place around 120 officers in 40 different countries.
Unlike the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, it does not have responsibility for counterterrorism, which is dealt with by police. A review will examine whether such operations should move to the NCA in future.
It is the third attempt in 15 years to set up a “British FBI,” a move which has been met by skepticism from critics.
The NCA replaces the Serious Organised Crime Agency, itself established in 2006 to succeed the National Crime Squad set up in 1998. The opposition Labour Party said the new agency was simply a rebranding exercise designed to disguise policing cuts.