It’s a fair cop, gov! … or is it?

IT was recently reported that British Home Secretary, Theresa May, has decided to replace SOCA – the Serious Organised Crime Agency – with the FBI-style NCA – National Crime Agency. You’ll recall that SOCA was only set up by Labour in 2006 – to replace the NCIS – and hailed THEN as the ‘UK’s FBI’.

Due to come into effect in 2013, the new agency has a number of briefs, one of which is to deal with the “38,000 individuals and 6,000 groups involved in organised crime, which costs the UK up to £40 billion a year, who have escaped justice”. Which makes you wonder. If SOCA already knows precisely how many individuals and groups are involved, why hasn’t it been able to pursue these criminals?

And if SOCA can’t, how on earth can the NCA which is due to receive no new cash – funding coming from existing budgets. Or, to put it another way, from cuts to existing departmental budgets. Result: even less frontline policing – fewer cops on the beat, more police stations closed down and sold off. Less frontline healthcare – fewer beds, nurses and doctors. Less child support – more Baby P cases.

The setting up of the NCA forms part of the most fundamental re-organisation of police work in 50 years. In fact, directly-elected police and crime commissioners will replace the existing police authorities from May 2012. So, yet another police shake-up which will cost a huge amount in rebranding, new signage and so on, not to mention the huge human cost in police redundancies, redeployment and loss of morale.

The NCA will combine child protection, organised crime and border protection. These areas – which already co-operate – will continue to operate as separate units within the overarching structure so that all that’ll be achieved will be a brand new layer of bureaucracy on top – adding to the cost with little to show for it.
What’s the betting that, following the next General Election, a new Home Secretary – in order to make his/ her mark – will announce yet another shake-up just as this latest reorganisation is beginning to show results. Yet another short term, knee jerk response rather than meeting long term needs?

It seems every few years now, governments change things. They don’t accomplish much but look as though they’re doing something and, most important, keep everyone busy. Labour Government or Coalition? Your choice.

Nora Johnson’s novel, The De Clerambault Code ( available at Amazon in paperback and as eBook. Profits to Cudeca

Picture Credit: Sarel Jansen

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