Who we are

The National Crime Agency’s mission is to protect the public by leading the UK’s fight to cut serious and organised crime (SOC). We sit at the centre of the UK’s response to this national security priority, operating as the vital link between the international and domestic threat. The NCA has officers based in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, protecting citizens in every community.

What is Serious and Organised Crime (SOC)?

SOC is defined in the 2018 Serious and Organised Crime Strategy as ‘individuals planning, coordinating and committing serious offences, whether individually, in groups and/or as part of transnational networks’. The main categories of serious offences covered by the term are: child sexual abuse; cyber crime; fraud; illegal drugs and firearms; modern slavery and human trafficking; money laundering; organised immigration crime; organised acquisitive crime; and bribery, corruption and sanctions evasion.

Impact of SOC

SOC is a chronic threat affecting more UK citizens, more often, than any other national security threat. It is conservatively estimated to cost the UK economy £37 billion per year. Criminals responsible for these threats inflict devastating and insidious harm on individuals, businesses and communities across the UK.

Our Partners

We work with Police and Crime Commissioners as key law enforcement partners, to deliver a whole system response to SOC. Our law enforcement partners include, but are not limited to: police forces, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement; investigatory agencies such as the Security Service and the Serious Fraud Office; and government agencies such as Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. Internationally, we use our footprint, reach and established collaboration with partners to secure the most effective upstream activity and tackle the threats before they reach the UK.

The threat

We have a responsibility in law to provide the single authoritative assessment of the threat from SOC. In part we discharge this through publication of the National Strategic Assessment (NSA) on behalf of the whole SOC system.

We will be making the launch of the NSA public because we think that the findings of the NSA justify increasing public knowledge and understanding. We want to change the dial so that the wider public understand the impact of SOC in their communities and families.

Our NSA has shone a light on the overwhelming international element to SOC in the UK that is reliant on global supply chains, markets and networks to continue devastating our local communities in the process. Based on a range of factors across the SOC threat markets and activity, we assess that the SOC threat to the UK is increasing and has been largely resilient to the impact of COVID-19. We assess that the threat from CSA, Cyber, Drugs, Fraud and Money Laundering threats has continued to increase since the start of 2020. Where threats have reduced, these reductions can be directly linked to restrictions and limitations put in place around COVID-19 with evidence showing that these threats will likely return to previous levels or higher once restrictions are lifted.

Key themes which have emerged are:

  • The growing scale and complexity of SOC:
    • our knowledge has improved through our investigations/intelligence work; and
    • our response needs to be agile so we are not playing catch up to the criminals.
  • Technology is increasingly a key factor:
    • Use of encrypted comms by offenders is a challenge going forward but we have also found:
      • An increase in instances of ransomware and associated costs; and
      • Increased online CSA offending.
  • SOC impacting the UK is a global threat which relies on international supply chains, markets and networks to thrive. Organised Crime Groups increasingly operate as global enterprises reacting to changes in markets and law enforcement activity.
  • SOC criminals have the ability to flex to suit the changing operating environment as we have seen following EU Exit and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our response to the threat

We undertake various national pieces of work to coordinate against the threats:

Drugs

In September 2020, the NCA led an international operation and seized more than a tonne of heroin and morphine derivatives at Felixstowe port in Suffolk, worth £120 million at street level. The container ship was destined for Antwerp, but it is highly likely a large proportion of the addictive and destructive drugs were destined for UK streets. With support from Dutch and Belgian law enforcement, officers arrested three suspects in The Netherlands and a suspect in the UK.

Cyber

In early 2020, a UK local authority suffered a ransomware attack that took many of its services offline and restricted the use of telephone and email systems. The attack briefly increased the risk to the delivery of local frontline services, including functions involving vulnerable children and adult care. Data relating to school admissions was also encrypted, causing potential delays to the school placement process for ten schools and affected the process for neighbouring councils due to cross-boundary applications. The NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, National Cyber Security Centre, law enforcement partners and local authorities worked together to quickly mitigate the risk to the council’s critical business functions.

Money Laundering and serious violence

An Unexplained Wealth Order, secured by the NCA at the High Court, resulted in a businessman from Leeds agreeing to hand over nearly £10 million of assets, including dozens of properties across England. NCA civil investigators, who had been investigating him for over a year, argued that his wealth had been accumulated through many years of money laundering for serious and violent organised crime groups in West Yorkshire.

Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking

A husband and wife duped 41 victims into leaving Romania to become slaves who they controlled in the UK. Alexander Goran, 30, and his wife Ana Marie, 34, were jailed after an investigation, in partnership with the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, showed they convinced the victims to move to the UK on the promise of jobs and accommodation. Goran put the workers in sub-standard housing and got them jobs at food processing businesses through an employments agency which his organised crime group had infiltrated. But he arranged for their wages to be paid into his wife’s bank account and they deducted huge sums. Victims’ were deprived of their ID and bank cards to prevent them leaving. The victims were also given fake IDs so they could work extra shifts and maximise the offenders’ profits. Goran was sentenced to three and a half years in jail and was deported after serving seven months. His wife was sentenced to 15 months in prison.

Child Sexual Abuse

Prolific online child sex offender David Wilson, aged 36, pretended to be a series of teenage girls online and approached more than 5,000 boys globally to try to groom them. Wilson, of King’s Lynn, Norfolk, deceived more than 500 boys into sending him sexual abuse videos and photographs of themselves and in some cases of younger siblings and friends. Wilson used Facebook Messenger to target his victims and threatened victims that he would send their images to their friends and family unless they send more. Wilson – one of the most prolific offenders in the NCA’s history - was jailed for 25 years in February 2021.

NCA activity in 2020/2021* has led to:

  • Over 3,300 Disruptions
  • Safeguarded over 1,400 Children
  • Arrested over 1,000 individuals in the UK
  • Secured convictions against 269 offenders
  • Secured sentences totalling 1078 years
  • Seized over 127 tons of drugs
  • Seized over 490 Firearms
  • Rescued over 590 Potential Victims of Trafficking
  • Restrained, frozen or seized over £100m.

* Data is for Apr 20 – Feb 21. Full year results will be published in the NCA Annual Report and Accounts.

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