To be honest there wasn't a specific reason, I heard about the NCA looking for volunteers to become Specials and I thought that it would give me a chance to try and help, and at the same time develop myself as both an individual and an IT/Security professional.
I've spent my entire career working in IT, mostly in infrastructure related roles (servers, networks that kind of thing). Strangely enough though the "niche" skill I bought to the agency is around an Open Source Intelligence program. I write custom code that enables it to be used for more specific functions and although I'm still getting my head around the way the agency works I hope it will help make a real difference in the long term.
I'm not sure I would say I manage it, it sort of just happens. My employer has kindly agreed to release me for a couple of days a month, so that really helps with feeling like part of the team. In between visits I tend to work on the projects I've been tasked with and then I showcase them on my visits to the offices. Luckily I also have a VERY understanding girlfriend, which helps when my head is buried in my laptop for a few hours in the evenings or at weekends.
Don't be afraid to get involved or ask questions. There are a LOT of acronym's used in the agency and despite working in an industry that loves to make an acronym out of everything I struggle to keep up at times, so if in doubt ask. On my first visit to the office I was asked if I could write some code to do a specific task which I was readily able to assist with. That's the reason you want to become a NCA Special, to help, to share your knowledge, your skills and your passion. You can't do that without getting involved.
I promise I haven't been forced/paid into saying this, but it's the people. From my first visit I was made to feel part of the team, not like I was a stranger invading their territory, they shared their time and more importantly their coffee with me and I look forward to my fortnightly visits for as much for the people, as I do the challenges that await me (and yes they will challenge you).
1. I have spent my professional career chasing the bad guys and this is an extension of that. I am working specifically with the CRT Team which has some cross over with HMRC with whom I have worked for almost all my career.
2. I have had a successful 30 year career (sadly 30 of 50 probably) so feel that I can and should now give something back to society
3. I feel strongly that public private partnerships work well and that each can learn from the other and should do so on an ongoing basis to maximise the efficacy of actions against serious crime.
I am a solicitor of 28 years qualification specialising in civil litigation especially in insolvency, most particularly in fraud related cases relating to tax losses and in injunctive relief and provisional liquidations and interim receiverships. This brings experience of serious organised crime, terrorist funding and money laundering on a regular basis. I am a member of the Insolvency Lawyers’ and Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Associations.
Like most women juggle it all at once!! I then try at weekends to get on my horse and bomb around, walk the dogs and get muddy, and do things with my husband and daughters, and find that that balances things nicely. I have been known to give advice from horseback when urgent.
Do it. It is interesting, different and adds dimensions to your knowledge whilst you are also able to add to the NCA resource. Also you will find you are very much welcomed as an “inmate” into the teams. I was even included in Secret Santa.
The dedication and enthusiasm of the people and the “will do” attitude.
When I retired from the NCA the last operation that I had worked on was still ongoing. I had built up a lot of very detailed knowledge about the subjects during the two years that I had worked on the team, and I wanted to see the work that I had started through to fruition. Thereafter, if I can be of assistance, then I'll do the best that I can. I didn't want to waste the skills and expertise I'd built up during my career.
I worked in criminal investigation for 34 years. For the last 12 years of my career I worked as a financial investigator, and am still an accredited financial investigator.
Because I'm retired there has not been a problem. I have been able to do some work at home, and visit a branch office - when I need access to documents, etc.
Go for it! If you have skills/expertise that will assist the NCA achieve its goals, please share them. Increasingly the tier of criminals pursued by the NCA use sophisticated techniques to achieve their goals, often funded from their criminal activity, and it is vital that the NCA can bring them to justice, and, where appropriate, locate and confiscate their criminal profits.
There is a tremendous amount of satisfaction, and a sense of pride, to be gained from being able to provide assistance to ensure that the Agency achieves the best possible results. I've had a lot of encouragement and support from colleagues with whom I used to work, and have enjoyed meeting up with them again, and becoming a member of a successful team once more.