Brian Sims

NCA and Europol agree terms on new working relationship

NATIONAL CRIME Agency (NCA) director general Dame Lynne Owens and Europol executive director Catherine De Bolle have signed up to a new working arrangement between the two organisations which will sit under the UK-EU Trade and Co-operative Agreement (TCA).

Since the beginning of the year, operational co-operation between UK law enforcement agencies and European Union (EU) Member States via Europol has continued effectively and without interruption.

The Working and Administrative Arrangement – which complements and implements the TCA by providing further clarity on how co-operation should be undertaken at the operational level – will ensure that this continues.

Shared capabilities protected under the TCA, and now also the new arrangement, include the presence of UK/NCA liaison officers based at Europol’s headquarters, access to Europol’s secure messaging system, the ability to attend and organise operational and other meetings at Europol, the ability to contribute to Europol analysis projects in order to benefit from the agency’s co-ordination and analytical functions and the fast and effective exchange of data.

Across the last nine months, the continued working relationship between the NCA and the UK’s EU partners via Europol has resulted in:

*the takedown of both the Emotet malware and the DoubleVPN cyber crime service

*the arrest of a man wanted by authorities in Belgium in connection with the smuggling of 39 migrants found dead in a lorry in Essex back in October 2019

*the capture of six fugitives wanted in Romania, Hungary and Lithuania for offences linked to modern slavery, human trafficking and people smuggling

*attended or initiated more than 150 operational meetings between January and May this year

Full range of crime threats

Speaking about the news, Dame Lynne Owens stated: “This arrangement with Europol supports our continued work designed to tackle the full range of crime threats facing the UK and our European neighbours. We are relentlessly focused on tackling serious and organised criminals, including those who fuel violence through trafficking drugs and firearms, who steal money and information by way of fraud or cyber crime and also those behind people smuggling operations.”

Owens continued: “The TCA, and our working arrangement with Europol, reflects the scale of the NCS’s contribution in protecting the UK from serious and organised crime. We look forward to continued collaborative working alongside our EU law enforcement partners.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel stated: “Keeping the public safe remains the Government’s foremost priority. This new arrangement builds on the security measures we negotiated with the EU in our Trade and Co-operation Agreement last year. It will ensure that we can continue effective co-operation with our partners, both to protect members of the public from serious and organised crime and, of course, bring criminals to justice.”

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