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NCA chief to stand down

The head of the National Crime Agency is retiring after 32 years in policing, creating a vacancy at the top of UK policing.

Dame Lynne Owens is to retire from the National Crime Agency after five years in charge.

Dame Lynne, who has been undergoing treatment for cancer during the summer, is standing down for further treatment.

The Home Secretary will appoint an interim Director General as soon as possible. That person will lead the NCA whilst a substantive successor is appointed through a competitive recruitment process.

She has been back at work but said: “I cannot, with integrity, conclude that it is in the interests of the Agency to leave it with such uncertainty in leadership.

“Similarly I recognise I need to create the time and space to heal physically and emotionally without the self-imposed pressure to return. I do not feel that my working life is over and I hope to contribute again in the future.”

She has led the NCA since January 2016 following a career that spanned three police forces, starting in 1989 when she joined the Metropolitan Police Service as a Constable. Prior to joining the NCA she was Chief Constable of Surrey Police.

During her leadership, the NCA has become a formidable organisation acting as the bridge between forces and the intelligence services, developing the response to cyber crime and tackling international gangs targeting the UK.

In the last financial year (2020-21) the NCA had its most successful twelve months to date achieving an almost 40 per cent increase in disruptions compared to the previous year, against the challenging backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Dame Lynne said: “There is no doubt in my mind that the National Crime Agency will continue to go from strength to strength.

“Our outstanding officers work tirelessly to protect the public from serious and organised crime, sometimes in the shadows and with a contribution that is less visible to the public eye.”

She said: “We have worked hard to share some of our superb results and I know that the UK; its citizens, communities and businesses are safer as a result of their actions both here and abroad. I am so proud of them and all they do.”

The Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, Matthew Rycroft said: “I have worked with Lynne on a daily basis: she is passionately committed to the fight against organised crime. I know that she has not taken the decision to step down lightly, but she has decided that it is in the best interests of the NCA for her to do so.

“This is characteristic of her integrity and sense of duty. I will miss her straightforward approach and expert advice, reflecting her very considerable experience over 30 years in law enforcement, including as Chief Constable of Surrey Police. All of us will miss Lynne and wish her well for her surgery.”

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