National Crime Agency inspections
Part of: International and specialist agencies
The NCA is the UK-wide crime fighting agency responsible for leading, supporting and co-ordinating the response to serious and organised crime. This includes human, weapons and drug trafficking, cybercrime and economic crime that cross regional, national and international borders and child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSEA). It has more than 5,500 officers, 150 of whom are working in 50 countries worldwide.
The agency has two functions specified in statute:
- crime reduction; and
- criminal intelligence.
Serious and organised crime is planned, co-ordinated and committed by criminals working together on a continuing basis. They are often motivated by financial gain and their crimes are characterised by violence, or the threat of violence. The NCA assesses the threat from and effect of serious and organised crime, including border security, and reports on it in the National Strategic Assessment.
The NCA can investigate any crime. However, it generally targets the highest levels of serious and organised crime, and the organised crime groups involved in such offences.
The Crime and Courts Act 2013 requires us to inspect the NCA and the Secretary of State can also request that we inspect the NCA in respect of a particular matter. The Secretary of State can also request that we inspect the NCA in respect of a particular matter.
Please note: In July 2017 HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). Inspections carried out before July 2017 may continue to refer to HMIC.
HMICFRS provides the Home Secretary with a report following each NCA inspection.
Under Schedule 6, Part 1, paragraph 3(1) of the Crime and Courts Act 2013:
“[t]he Secretary of State must arrange for every HMIC[FRS] report received to be published in such manner as the Secretary of State considers appropriate”.
This may require the redaction of operationally sensitive information. This section features the reports that are published.
2021 – An inspection of the National Crime Agency’s crime reduction (investigating offences relating to organised crime) function
This inspection looked at the non-specialist NCA investigation teams based at branch offices across the UK. It adds to the findings of previous inspections of the NCA and other aspects of the serious and organised crime (SOC) system. Collectively, these will give a system-wide view of the UK law enforcement’s fight against SOC.
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An inspection of the National Crime Agency’s crime reduction (investigating offences relating to organised crime) function
2020 – An inspection of the National Crime Agency’s relationship with regional organised crime units
This was an inspection of the National Crime Agency (NCA), not of the police or the regional organised crime units (ROCUs). We sought to establish how effectively the NCA works with one of its most important partners, the ROCU network, to tackle serious and organised crime.
We have made seven recommendations for improving how well the NCA works with the ROCU network.
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National Crime Agency inspection: An inspection of the National Crime Agency’s relationship with regional organised crime units (PDF document)
2020 – An inspection of the National Crime Agency’s criminal intelligence function
The focus of this inspection was on criminal intelligence. Its aim was to answer the question: How well does the NCA discharge its criminal intelligence function? This included inspecting its:
- current capabilities;
- alignment with the Serious and Organised Crime Strategy and the National Strategic Assessment;
- ability to provide a single, authoritative, strategic assessment of the threat from serious and organised crime; and
- compliance with national intelligence standards and existing legislation.
We made four recommendations to improve the effectiveness of the NCA’s criminal intelligence function.
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An inspection of the National Crime Agency’s criminal intelligence function
2018 – Anti Kidnap and Extortion Unit inspection
Terms of reference
This inspection examined the Anti Kidnap and Extortion Unit (AKEU) within the National Crime Agency. The terms of reference for this inspection in 2018 sought to establish:
- What is the role of the AKEU in responding to kidnap and extortion within the UK?
- What is the role of the AKEU in supporting the response to kidnap and extortion in other countries where there is UK responsibility?
- Does the AKEU have an effective and efficient structure to be able to lead, support or coordinate the response to kidnap and extortion?
2017/18 Warrants inspection
In 2015, the NCA conducted a comprehensive review of its warrants and production orders granted by the courts in live NCA cases. Following the completion of the review in March 2016, and independent oversight provided by an Independent Advisory Panel, the Director General of the NCA requested that Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Constabulary and Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of the Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate undertook a joint inspection to ensure that the promised improvements have taken effect.
Terms of reference
- The inspection sought to provide assurance of the level of improvements within the following areas:
- search warrants, whether granted by a Magistrates’ Court or a Crown Court, together with the information in support;
- records of the authorisations given for s18 PACE searches; and
- PACE and POCA production orders, and account monitoring orders, together with the information in support and applications.
- Ensure progress has been made by the NCA to address thematic issues that were identified during the warrants review, namely:
- PACE Warrants:
- Precision of drafting;
- Failure to specify the lack of antecedents;
- Insufficient time estimates;
- Consistency of information across warrants and applications;
- Detailing the reliability and sensitivity of information contained within warrants; and
- S18 search authorisations.
- POCA Orders:
- Application of the correct conditions contained in the Statute;
- Assertions (explanation for the assertions);
- Period of time over which material is sought;
- Inconsistencies in drafting; and
- Reducing copying and pasting details from previous applications.
- PACE Warrants:
- Consider the governance and continued oversight provided by operational standards, capability and assessment unit. This will focus on the role of the unit to maintain operational standards in respect of warrants and the programme of work to deliver the recommendations outlined in the final report of the warrants review.
This inspection examined the national tasking and coordination arrangements led by the NCA. The terms of reference for this inspection of the National Crime Agency in 2017 were:
- How effective are the processes for establishing a “single authoritative intelligence picture” on which national tasking is based?
- Are the current strategic, tactical and operational tasking processes led by the NCA ensuring that activity is focused on national priorities?
- How are the NCA, police forces across the UK and other law enforcement agencies responding to the national priorities?
- How are the strategic governance groups led by the NCA, their related threat groups, and strategic action plans informing and influencing national tasking?
December 2017 – National Crime Agency inspection: an inspection of the National Crime Agency’s specialist operations centre, crime operational support and serious crime analysis section
The terms of reference for these inspections of the National Crime Agency in 2016 were:
- How effective are the services provided by the serious crime analysis section, crime operation support and the specialist operations centre?
- How efficiently are these services provided?
July 2016 – National Crime Agency – a progress report
July 2016 – An inspection of the UK’s International Crime Bureau
July 2015 – Inspection of the National Crime Agency – Terms of reference
March 2015 – An inspection of the National Crime Agency
July 2014 – Inspection of the National Crime Agency – Terms of reference
Inspection of SOCA
June 2013 – European Arrest Warrants – An inspection of the Serious Organised Crime Agency’s data, systems and processes for dealing with European arrest warrants