The boss at the so-called new British FBI will effectively become the most senior police officer in the country with the power to over-rule chief constables, the Government said today.
The director-general of the National Crime Agency will be able to redirect officers away from misdemeanours on their local patch and on to cases of serious organised crime such as major drug dealing operations and human trafficking cartels.
The new agency will also have the power to carry out counter-terrorism operations as part of an effort to tackle some 7,000 criminal gangs operating in the UK, said home affairs spokesman Lord Henley.
A new agency was needed to replace the Serious and Organised Crime Agency as ministers looked to combat organised crime, which was costing the country between £20 billion and £40 billion every year, he added.
Speaking at the second reading of the Crime and Courts Bill in the House of Lords, he said: "Working with, and collaborating with other law enforcement agencies, the National Crime Agency will prioritise resources and ensure a joined up approach at the local, national and international level to disrupt crime gangs and bring their members to justice.
"The National Crime Agency's relationship with police forces and others will be based on a partnership with mutual exchanges of information and the provision of two-way support.
"Importantly, however, the Bill provides that the director-general should be able in exceptional circumstances to direct police forces in England and Wales to undertake specific tasks - for example to take action against a criminal gang based in the force area.
"I fully expect that this power will be rarely used but it is a necessary back-stop to underpin the strategic policing requirement, which supports chief officers and police and crime commissioners in effectively balancing local and national priorities."