National Crime Agency Now Fully Operational In Northern Ireland
The National Crime Agency, sometimes dubbed as the British FBI, is now fully operational in Northern Ireland as well as mainland Great Britain. The group typically works on organised crime rings, and has the power to seize assets and cash from criminals.
The group was only set up in 2013, and despite being in operation across the rest of Great Britain, opposition from nationalist politicians in Northern Ireland meant that it had not been given the same remit over there. However, the SDLP has said that they can now back the introduction of the agency, following new measures that have been put in place to ensure accountability. The NCA will not be allowed to take action in the country without prior consent from the NI Police.
The National Crime Agency is an agency that was set up in order to tackle serious and major crimes, and it often works with local police forces and other groups in order to investigate and take action against organised crime, financial crime, cybercrime, and exploitative crime, as well as dealing with border patrol issues as well. The group lists some of its activities as including the investigation of counterfeit currency, child sexual exploitation, the class A drugs trade, and the use of firearms by organised criminals, as well as many other areas of crime.
There are, according to the group, around 5,500 organised crime groups that operate in or impact on the UK. They say that this equates to nearly 40,000 people, and the criminal activities of these individuals and gangs costs the country well over £20bn a year. The government, and many politicians in Northern Ireland, were keen for the group to extend to activities in Northern Ireland but this had proven to be a move too far until now.
SDLP politicians had prevented the NCA from operating in Northern Ireland, because acceptance required cross-community support from all parties. That support from nationalist politicians has only been given now that changes have been made regarding the accountability of the agency.