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NCA gets boost as inspectors call for better funding deal

The National Crime Agency needs long-term funding for major operations targeting crime gangs, HMI has warned. Outdated IT is holding them back, ministers told.

The National Crime Agency needs more funding to increase its capability and invest in better technology for its ops teams.

The report from HM Inspectorate rated the NCA’s performance across a range of areas and warned its budget was the main thing holding back results.

HM Inspector Matt Parr said: ““The NCA has struggled to resolve IT issues, potentially at the detriment of its operational work to tackle sophisticated criminals in the UK and abroad.

"We therefore recommend that the Home Office should make it clear how much money the NCA will have for the next three years, so the agency can invest where it needs to – including in better IT systems.”

The inspectorate said the NCA is focusing its investigations on the right areas in line with national security threats and manages them properly with effective prioritisation of its resources. 

It’s a significant moment for the organisation which was only created in 2013 and now deals with organised crime gangs, supports counter-terrorism work and is also tackling online fraud.

The inspectorate made several recommendations to build on success so far:

Matt Parr said:  “While we found evidence of good practice, we also had concerns in some areas – including the use of personal mobile phones during covert operations, and officers not always having access to radios – which could mean they are at risk in volatile situations. The NCA has told us that it has now taken steps to rectify these issues.”

NCA Director of Investigations Nikki Holland said: “The report also recognises the drive and purpose of the NCA’s investigators in targeting the criminals causing most harm, and bringing them to justice.

“The NCA has already taken substantial action on all of the report’s recommendations, with the majority at, or close to, what we believe are points of completion.”

Nikki Holland said the report’s findings were now being used to secure extra cash and lobby ministers – particularly the Treasury – to make the changes needed. 

“In line with the report’s recommendation that the NCA’s funding settlement enables investment in business planning and longer term projects, we continue to work with government to support its commitment to strengthening the NCA.”

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