It would seem that there is a national need for a national police force. Whatever that need is, I have never really understood.
I personally don’t understand how we can have a new National Crime Agency without a Royal Commission on Policing or similar. Apparently, it’s more than rebranding SOCA, apparently it’s a new way we do national policing.
I’m sorry, it feels half arsed to me. In short, SOCA has been rebranded, CEOP (a good agency) has been subsumed and the troubled bits of the UKBA has been absorbed into the National Crime Agency.
And it’s clear that the Coalition have a brand in mind. They want the ‘NCA’ to be the British FBI. That’s clearly the brief which has been given to the media.
I pause at this stage and note, there’s nothing terribly ‘federal’ about the NCA. It’s got no powers to institute proceedings Scotland and only minor powers in Northern Ireland.
And really, call me a cynic, I imagine that bundling a number of agencies into one isn’t about a national revolution in the way that we are policed, but rather instead a cost cutting exercise packaged in a bit of media excitement.
We are to have a national police force, then in reality there are a number of areas that NCA are missing.
NCA has effectively four sections:
– Border policing
– Economic crime
– CEOP (and the cyber crime unit)
– Organised crime
A remit much narrower than the FBI.
The hype of our own FBI is that nobody is out of its reach.
And in terms of the FBI, that’s very true. Small town corrupt police departments ought to fear the G men and the financier with a proclivity to misselling financial products to little old ladies ought to have the same.
The FBI has eight top investigative priorities:
At number 5
Protect civil rights. If you’re a state official in the United States who misuses their power, who curtails the rights of the good folk of whatever county, then (nowadays at least – forget COINTELPRO for a mo) they ought to expect a knock on the door from a university educated law enforcement official.
If a Washington Police Dept had illegally followed, slurred and surveilled a murder victim’s family, they don’t have an ombudsman knock on their door, they have the FBI.
At number 7
Combat major white collar crime. We’ve seen the images of the likes of Bernie Madoff taken down by the FBI (and technically also I’m told the US Postal Service!).
In the UK we see nothing like it. The major white collar crime, when committed by an individual is investigated by a variety of folk, the City of London Police, the Met, the SFO and so on and so on.
Behind closed doors we don’t see the non-prosecution arrangements reached with companies or their agreements to pay fines.
If we were serious about a national police force to have a serious economic crime aspect, then those agencies ought to have been subsumed too. But let’s face it, there’s no drive in this government to really tackle crime in the City.
All publicity no panther
Was it a panther, or was it a bear that was the logo of SOCA? I have forgetten already.
If this new agency is to have any claws then charge it with protecting civil liberties and fighting big corruption. Otherwise it’s just a load of money on new logos.