15 August 2015
The National Crime Agency has facilitated media access to one of the most sensitive areas of UK law enforcement, the UK Protected Persons Service (UKPPS), which provides authorised protection to members of the public judged to be at risk of serious harm.
Through an NCA intermediary a journalist has been given access to a number of protected persons, including a former gang member who was the target of an attempted kidnap, and a rape victim who was threatened by her attacker's associates.
They also spoke to case officers responsible for liaising with individuals under protection.
UKPPS was formed in 2013, bringing together what were previously called Witness Protection Units into new teams of police and National Crime Agency officers.
Co-ordinated by the NCA, it is responsible for providing protection arrangements to at-risk individuals, including witnesses but potentially also people assisting in serious criminal investigations and others including those in danger of honour based violence.
The report was broadcast on the BBC's Newsnight programme on Friday 14 August 2015.
Deputy Chief Constable Andy Cooke, national policing lead for protected persons, said:
"This is the first time that the UK Protected Persons Service has allowed a journalist this level of access into this world that we keep covert for a good reason, but we firmly believed it was the right time to say 'this is what we do.'
"If you are a witness, a former gang member or a member of the public facing an imminent threat of serious harm to your life, the Protected Persons' Service - which consists of dedicated police officers and staff across the country - is here to ensure that your life is protected and you are given the support you need to make a fresh start.
"If you need that level of protection, this Newsnight package just gives a bit more insight into what we do on a daily basis."
Caroline Young, deputy director at the NCA's Organised Crime Command, which overseas the UKPPS, said:
"Necessarily this is one of the most discreet aspects of work done by the NCA and wider law enforcement. The success of the programme depends upon it.
"But it is important people know we are there and what we can do. We wanted to dispel some of the myths out there about what is commonly referred to as 'witness protection', but in reality is far more than that.
"While there is no getting away from the fact that it is a life changing process for most, there are thousands of people who are now quietly getting on with their lives, safe in their new locations and protected and supported by the NCA and police."
Find out more about the work of the UK Protected Persons Service here: http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/about-us/what-we-do/specialist-capabilities/uk-protected-persons-service