The Government's commitment to reducing serious organised crime moves into the 21st Century with the launch of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA), Home Secretary Charles Clarke announced today.
SOCA will tackle drug trafficking, organised immigration crime, money laundering and identity fraud by developing an intelligence picture of organised crime, pursuing key criminals and groups, disrupting criminal markets and attacking criminal assets to ensure they don't profit from their crimes.
SOCA officers will be able to draw on wide-ranging new powers to:
Charles Clarke said:
"I am today sending the organised criminal underworld a clear message: be afraid. The Serious Organised Crime Agency marks a step change in our efforts to stay ahead of the game in the fight against serious organised crime. It is a powerful new law enforcement organisation which will work across operational boundaries to tackle the problem, focusing its resources on where the harms are the greatest. Drug and people trafficking will be its top priorities along with fraud and identity theft.
"Organised crime is a massive and growing problem affecting every neighbourhood in the UK. It creates huge misery for decent people, damaging our communities to the tune of over ?20 billion pounds in criminal profit - more than ?300 for every person in the country.
"Drug trafficking intelligence officers from HMRC and specialist organised immigration crime officers from the Immigration Service will work together with officers from the former National Crime Squad and National Criminal Intelligence Agency to exploit hi-tech 21st century technology and uncover the new wave of crime bosses. They will draw on new powers of search, seizure and interrogation to provide a specialised and relentless attack on organised crime, alongside existing law enforcement agencies."
Sir Stephen Lander, Chair of SOCA said:
"Making a real difference against organised crime is a major undertaking but we are ambitious for success."
Bill Hughes QPM, Director General of SOCA said:
"SOCA will combine proven techniques and new methods of investigation, intelligence gathering and intervention to prevent organised criminals from causing harm and misery to our fellow citizens and to the UK in general.
"That is why SOCA has already been working with others to start building the coalition of forces - not just with law enforcement but with others in the public and private sectors- who together will change the climate for organised crime in this country. SOCA is committed to supporting and working in partnership with all those who can make a difference."
Notes to editors