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Criminals aren’t held back by organisational boundaries – so why are the police?

Andrew Moran had been described as one of the country’s most wanted fugitives. [1] He fled Britain in 2009, as a judge tried to remand him in custody over an armed robbery. In May 2013, officers from SOCA and the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, together with the Spanish police, arrested him in a villa near Alicante. While in Spain, he is alleged to have been involved in firearms and drugs offences.

The story of Andrew Moran illustrates how collaboration between law enforcement agencies on a local, national and international level can bring even the most notorious criminals to justice. But collaboration isn't always easy. Policing in the UK is complex, comprising many organisations with different priorities and geographical focuses. It was made more complex still by the introduction of local Police and Crime Commissioners. And the differentiation will only increase with the National Crime Agency (NCA) coming on stream in late 2013.

As the NCA prepares itself to become operational and fight crime, it needs to find a way of harnessing the complementary capabilities of law enforcement agencies at both a local and global level. 

There are three critical steps the NCA must take to secure an effective and joined-up approach to serious and organised crime at local, regional, national and international levels.

Agree a common purpose with the PCCs and regional teams

Effective collaboration between organisations relies on a common purpose. Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) are obliged to follow the Strategic Policing Requirement [2] which will underpin their relationship with the NCA. The challenge for the NCA is to move beyond this formal governance vehicle and engage openly with PCCs, highlighting that the NCA shares many common objectives and can help deliver benefits to their local communities. This requires strong outreach and stakeholder skills.

Identify and promote the tangible benefits that the NCA creates for local communities

The NCA will need to show how it is working to make communities safer. Success stories such as the arrest of Andrew Moran can help, but only if PCCs are persuaded to maintain investment in activities against organised crime across force boundaries. To support this, the NCA should lead research showing the causes and effects of serious and organised crime, and the impact of national and international activity at local levels. This will help to communicate the benefits the NCA can create for local communities and make the case for ongoing collaboration.

Focus on a ‘need to share’ intelligence at a local level as much as developing intelligence towards international targets

With many policing organisations competing for scarce intelligence assets, there is a natural tendency to focus resources on a small community of ‘high-value targets’. However the NCA should also take the opportunity to improve the ways of sharing intelligence on criminals relevant to local forces as early as possible. This will provide forces with actionable intelligence and strengthen the collaborative relationship. The NCA should take the lead in acquiring systems to support this effort and challenging policy and legal frameworks that may sometimes constrain intelligence sharing.

Taking these practical steps will ensure the NCA makes a strong contribution to tackling serious and organised crime, and seizes the opportunity created by the establishment of the new agency.

We are currently working with senior leaders from across the police and security communities on key issues of policy, strategy and transformation.  

To discuss the modernisation of policing with one of our experts, or to find out more about our expertise in this sector, please contact us now.



[2] Strategic Policing Requirement, July 2012

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