National Crime Agency is more like Keystone Cops than FBI

NCA director general grilled by Commons home affairs select committee over problems with warrants and case collapses.

Britain’s national law enforcement agency has been heavily criticised by MPs after the collapse of major trials and struggles to cope with its huge caseload.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is reviewing around 350 operations after court cases fell apart due to the way investigations were carried out.

It is being sued over issues with warrants that judges said exposed systemic ignorance over basic investigation procedures that was “difficult to believe”.

About 2,000 documents are being examined and some lower level issues have been found in the review after cases collapsed following Operations Heterodon and Enderby.

The Commons home affairs select committee was also told IT systems are struggling to cope with the huge number of cases the NCA is dealing with.

About 20,000 serious crime referrals were made in 2000 but the organisation, which replaced the Serious Organised Crime Agency, expects to deal with 380,000 this year.

Taking evidence from Keith Bristow, the NCA’s director general, committee chairman Keith Vaz claimed the “criminal elements must be rubbing their hands with glee … People are actually getting away with criminal activity, aren’t they, because of your agency’s failure to monitor all these cases that come before you?”

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