The UK’s National Crime Agency, dubbed ‘the UK’s FBI’, will launch on Monday with a heavy focus on using digital technology to tackle a range of crimes connected to the internet.
The £450m NCA is dedicated to battling major problems now connected to cybercrime, including drugs, paedophilia and people trafficking, and replaces the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), according to the Mail On Sunday.
Officers from the unit will investigate unregulated hidden crime areas of the internet dubbed the ‘dark web’ and much of the agency’s work will rely on digital technology.
The NCA’s first director-general, Keith Bristow, told the Mail on Sunday: “Very little of what we’re going to do does not involve a digital element.
“If I’m a criminal, not just an ordinary citizen, and you’ve got my mobile number, if you know about my internet activities, if you’ve got my car number-plate and my credit card details, then frankly you’ve got all the data you need to undertake some scrutiny of how I’m conducting myself without following me around.
“We all know there’s an automatic number-plate recognition network across the UK, and so if we’ve got the number of your car, we can track your movements. You know we have the ability to intercept communications.”
Bristow added that CCTV cameras would be linked to a network to enable more use of facial recognition technology and said the agency would work closely with GCHQ – which has recently come under scrutiny over its surveillance activities over ordinary citizens following the Edward Snowden revelations.
According to the Mail on Sunday, staff at the agency will mostly be graduates recruited from colleges and universities. It will be accountable to home secretary Theresa May and take over some responsibilities previously held by the Border Agency, the National Police Improvement Agency and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.
The NCA will feed into an intelligence hub called the Organised Crime Co-ordination Centre, which will collate information from police forces, MI5 and MI6. Its headquarters are based near Scotland Yard and it will have a larger number of officers based abroad than predecessor agencies, with around 130 officers in over 40 countries.