Cuts to 'Britain's FBI' would hit efforts to tackle organised crime, warns chief

Efforts to tackle organised crime in the West Midlands could be severely hit by civil service cuts, the regions police commissioner has warned.

West Midlands Police has worked with the NCA on a number of major operations
West Midlands Police has worked with the NCA on a number of major operations

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster said potential cuts to the National Crime Agency (NCA) would have "adverse consequences" for his force.

It comes amid warnings that the NCA – considered Britain's equivalent of the FBI – could see staff numbers reduced amid a Government plan to cut civil service numbers by more than 90,000.

Around three quarters of the NCA's 5,000 staff are civil servants.

Mr Foster was commenting after former NCA head Lynne Owens said cuts would have a "devastating" impact on tackling serious and organised crime.

Mr Foster said: "I share the concern of Lynne Owens that the proposed cuts to the civil service will have an impact on the NCA and its crime fighting ability.

"The NCA does incredibly important work, targeting some of the country’s most serious organised criminals.

"Any cuts to its capabilities will have adverse consequences for forces like West Midlands Police."

West Midlands Police has worked with the NCA on a number of major operations, including one in 2020 which saw £7m cash and more than 200kg class A drugs seized.

Chief Constable Sir David Thompson said the NCA was "largely dependant" on its annual budget from the Government, which is expected to be around £800m this year.

He said it needed "sustainability" over its long term finances, and that any staff cuts would leave forces spending more time dealing with "higher threats".

"At the moment we are working very hard to make sure we have got that seamless partnership when we work with the NCA," Sir David said.

"The risk is the way the budgets are constructed and potential reductions to the civil service."

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