Combatting Serious Organised Crime: Learnings from the NAC

Combatting Serious Organised Crime: Learnings from the NAC

In Spring 2022, the National Crime Agency’s Deputy Director Kate Fisher joined PaCCS for a two-day workshop on Transnational Organised Crime. As part of this event, she spoke with PaCCS-funded researchers about the agency’s work and opportunities for academic engagement.  

Reported by Kate McNeil (PaCCS) and Kate Fisher (NCA) 

The NCA’s National Assessment Centre (NAC) assesses serious organised crime in the UK. It is the single authority for gauging serious organised crime (SoC) threats, supported by analytical, assessment and support professionals, working with a range of information and intelligence. The NAC provides a variety of outputs – including quarterly assessments for UK’s law enforcement and intelligence community responding to SoC; commissioned requests on specific issues such as migration routes or narcotics trends, and the National Strategic Assessment – which is the organisation’s best-known output.  

The most recent Strategic Assessment – the 2021 assessment, published for the public – contained statistics highlighting the volume and complexity of SoC in the UK – with 69281  nominals” engaged in SOC in the UK, over £12 billion criminal cash estimated to be generated annually in the UK, 10,613 potential victims related to modern slavery identified through the National Referral Mechanism in 2020, and a 14% increase in dark web revenue in 2020 compared with 2019. More broadly, the NAC’s work has highlighted the interconnected nature of serious organised crime – every SoC threat has an international dimension, and it can be difficult to define distinct categories of SOC, with SOC  criminals engaging in a broad spectrum of crimes, known as polycriminality. Consequently, one major challenge the NAC faces is in answering questions about how upstream interventions internationally can effectively be used to prevent SoC impacts in the UK. In a data rich world, the NAC is also grappling with how to best access and use large volumes of data, gathered across a wide system of disparate stakeholders, and in ensuring the public recognise that investing in combatting serious organised crime is important and will impact their lives.  

Exchanges between PaCCS and the NAC have demonstrated the interest from operational partners in academic research, and the NAC is now working to make it as easy as possible for academics to gain access to the Centre and its products – including putting in new processes so that academics can gain access to data and expertise. The NAC is also working to improve national data capability in the SoC field and is working to reflect on how the conversation on SoC can move from reactive to proactive – including drawing where appropriate from the findings of our colleagues in counterterrorism.