Latest changes and developments from the UK’s National Crime Agency

UK’s National Crime Agency issues 2015/16 results and makes operational changes to the ‘consent regime’


The NCA’s latest annual report looks to set-out how the agency has worked to deliver its ongoing strategic aims to ‘pursue, prepare, protect and prevent (known as the 4P’s)’ across the spectrum of serious and organised crime including money-laundering and terrorist-financing. Following its establishment in 2013, the NCA has provided the services and functions of the national police and law enforcement agency covering all forms of serious and organised crime.


The NCA continues to evolve and work on its internal governance and its understanding and analysis of various risks and threats from a dynamic intelligence picture and working environment, and its ability to more effectively target and pursue disparate criminal activities and the individuals involved. The report outlines the NCA’s continued vision in respect of a number of key performance topics, such as its understanding and response to existing and emerging threats and vulnerabilities e.g. growing methods, technologies and opportunities for various forms of cyber-crime etc., and its collaborative work with other various UK and international bodies and partners. Amongst a range of headline statistics it is reported the NCA was involved in the recovery of almost £27m from criminals in the UK during the reporting period. The report also includes details of various recent cases it has investigated and/or prosecuted as well as work initiatives undertaken in pursuit of its specific strategic aims and objectives (see the 4P’s above).


Of additional and significant note for firms, the NCA has also introduced some practice and operational revisions around the ‘consent regime’ which came into effect from mid-July 2016. The NCA acts as the UK’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and handled >400k SAR’s during its most recent annual reporting period (2015/16). The ‘consent’ regime is used in respect of gaining ‘consent’ under related UK crime (money laundering/terrorist financing) legislation. The overall changes are intended to improve the efficiency and quality of related Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR’s). This includes an important clarification as to the nature of any given ‘consent’ to make clear it does not amount to actual notice or direct instruction to simply proceed but could be used as a defence to any alleged committal of a principal offence.


The precise detail on the NCA’s new approach on this important topic can be found in the specific NCA publication ‘Requesting a defence under POCA and TACT’, and firms should take time to ensure any internal arrangements (including any NCA-registered ‘reporter’ details) remain both up to date and compliant with this working development