The wait is finally over; the National Crime Agency is now operational. The NCA, which many are labelling as an equivalent to the FBI (although unlike the FBI it will not have any powers in relation to the fight against terrorism), will replace the Serious Organised Crime Agency which was founded in 2006.

This is not just a rebranding exercise though. The Agency, under the Director General Keith Bristow, will cover far more areas although there are four main divisions namely Economic Crime, Organised Crime, Borders and CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection). As many of these areas encompass a national or indeed international element the need for a separate entity to tackle such crimes is believed to be crucial rather than relying upon individual police forces who focus on their particular area rather than the full particulars.

In July of this year the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee published the Fifth Report of Session 2013 – 2014 on E-Crime.  The Report details that “we have seen worrying evidence that the growth of cyberspace has also opened up the UK to serious security threats’. This will probably come on no surprise to many of us with the frequent reports of cyber crime attacks. With this position in mind the NCA created the National Cyber Crime Unit; which additionally became operational on Monday 7th October. The NCCU aims to provide a joined-up national response to cyber and cyber-enabled crime.

Home Secretary Theresa May stated in announcing the launch of the National Crime Agency “I want to make Britain a hostile environment for serious and organised criminals, with the new National Crime Agency leading that fight.’

And so the fight commences.  Since Monday, the NCA have made a number of arrests across the country in respect of a variety of offences, including fraudulently obtained passports and driving licences, smuggling into prisons, child abuse and drug trafficking – the latter arrest being made in Amsterdam. Notably though four men were arrested on Tuesday as part of the on going Silk Road investigation. Silk Road was a black market website for the selling of illegal drugs which was shut down by the FBI at the beginning of this month. Andy Archibald, head of the NCCU stated that “this is only the start of a wider campaign for the NCA to tackle the ‘dark’ or ‘deep’ web and the criminals exploiting it’.

At Farleys we have a specialist team of criminal defence solicitors who specialise in serious crime and can provide advice and representation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on all areas of serious crime and cyber crime. If you have been accused of involvement in online crime in any capacity, it is vital that you speak to a cyber crime  defence solicitor at the earliest opportunity. Early advice is often crucial. For 24 hour advice via our emergency crime line, call 01254 606050.