With increasing crime problems creating concerns for British citizens and politician, the Blair government announced the creation of their own version of America's elite law-enforcement agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
A national agency targeting major crime organizations and criminals such as drug-smugglers, human traffickers and fraud rings began work on April 3 in Britain. The Serious Organized Crime Agency, or SOCA, is seen by many as Britain’s answer to the FBI, joining experts from the police, customs and immigration services.
The agency, with an annual budget of around $700 million, employs over 4,000 officers with the powers of a police officer, a customs officer or an immigration officer. Close to half of its budget will go toward fighting drug trafficking.
SOCA will work closely with the police on intelligence and operations to ensure that there is an effective link between SOCA’s efforts to combat organised crime at national level and the work being done by police forces at local level. It is Britain’s first non-police law-enforcement body and is commanded by Sir Stephen Lander, who formerly led Britain’s well-known and respected internal security agency, MI5.
SOCA will bring together expertise from law enforcement and government agencies to tackle major criminal networks. The Terrorism Act 2006 has also become law, with a range of new provisions criminalizing activities supporting terrorism such as money laundering and other financial crimes.
The agency will communicate with foreign law enforcement agencies to identify links between illegal gangs in Britain and those oversees. It takes over the functions of the National Crime Squad (NCS), the National Criminal Intelligence Service (NCIS), the role in investigating drug trafficking and related criminal finance and some of the functions of the UK Immigration Service (UKIS) in dealing with organized immigration crime.
In the United Kingdom, organized crime covers a very wide range of activity and individuals involved in a number of crime sectors. The most damaging sectors to the UK are judged to be trafficking of drugs, organized immigration crime and fraud. In addition, there are a wide range of other threats, including high tech crime, counterfeiting, the use of firearms by serious criminals, serious robbery, organiszed vehicle crime, cultural property crime and others.
SOCA is an intelligence-led agency with law enforcement powers and harm reduction responsibilities. Harm in this context is the damage caused to people and communities by serious organized crime. Within that framework, SOCA plans its priorities, including how it will exercise the functions given to it by statute, and what performance measures it will adopt.
SOCA is expected to devote a higher proportion of its resources and activity to intelligence work than the agencies that it replaces.
Organized immigration crime covers both the organized illegal immigrantion into the UK (“people smuggling”) and the trafficking of people for criminal exploitation, for example as prostitutes or forced labor (“human trafficking”). Organized illegal immigration causes harm to the people who are trafficked, who often face violence and other personal risks. But it also creates problems for the UK through the economic costs and impact on social cohesion brought by large numbers of illegal immigrants.
Jim Kouri, CPP is currently fifth vice-president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police. He's former chief at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at a New Jersey university and director of security for a number of organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country. He writes for many police and crime magazines including Chief of Police, Police Times, The Narc Officer, Campus Law Enforcement Journal, and others. He's appeared as on-air commentator for over 100 TV and radio news and talk shows including Oprah, McLaughlin Report, CNN Headline News, MTV, Fox News, etc. His book Assume The Position is available at Amazon.Com, Booksamillion.com, and can be ordered at local bookstores. Kouri holds a bachelor of science in criminal justice and master of arts in public administration and he's a board certified protection professional.