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The UK’s new National Crime Agency (NCA) launched on Monday in an effort to co-ordinate the nation’s efforts to tackle high-level crime within a single agency.
Replacing the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) the NCA will have four units focused on major areas of crime: Organised Crime, Economic Crime, Border Policing and CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection), and National Cyber Crime.
The threat from cybercrime is outlined by the NCA on a page on its website. "Organised crime has been quick to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the internet, particularly the growth in e-commerce and online banking," it said.
"Specialist criminal groups target individuals, small businesses and large corporate networks to steal personal information in bulk in order to profit from the compromised data available to them."
The organisation will begin with a staff of 4,000 and home secretary Theresa May said the launch of the agency would make it far harder for crooks to do business in the UK.
“For the first time we now have a single national agency harnessing intelligence to relentlessly disrupt organised criminals at home and abroad with its own warranted officers, and the power to lead officers from other law enforcement agencies in co-ordinating that activity.
“The new National Crime Agency will mean that there will be no hiding places for human traffickers, cyber criminals and drugs barons.”
The director general of the NCA, Keith Bristow, added that bringing the fight against major criminal activity into one central agency would give the authorities a much better chance of stopping and catching criminals.
“The NCA is a UK-wide crime-fighting agency, which will have the capability to tackle serious and organised crime in areas that have previously had a fragmented response, such as the border, cyber and economic crime, and those where we need to increase our impact, like child protection and human trafficking," he said
“The NCA will be at the centre of a reformed policing landscape that will co-ordinate the fight against some of the United Kingdom’s most sophisticated and harmful criminals.”
The launch of the new centre comes amid recent successes for law enforcement agencies against cyber criminals. The Metropolitan Police recently claimed to have stopped the theft of over £1bn from UK businesses thanks to a clampdown on cyber activities.
US authorities also recently arrested the alleged mastermind of the Silk Road cyber black market, which was said to be a haven for illegal activities.