Reinvented serious crime squad could lose staff

The setting up of the NCA is described as the most radical change to policing in 50 years
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The new organisation set up during a major overhaul of British policing to tackle the country's most dangerous gangs will probably lose some of the staff currently fighting serious organised crime, its new head said yesterday.

Keith Bristow said that 3,850 people had the right to transfer to the National Crime Agency (NCA) from two bodies set to be scrapped under the Government's reorganisation, but the numbers were likely to be lower because of budget cuts.

The NCA, which is expected to start operations next year, has not yet had a budget set. It is due to take over from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) – set up by Tony Blair in 2006 – and its functions will include tackling organised crime, protecting children and fighting fraud. It could take on other duties including the national counter-terrorism role from the Metropolitan Police after the Olympic Games as part of what has been described as the most radical change to policing in 50 years.

Mr Bristow, named as first director-general last year, told MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee that the "workforce will have a right of transfer but of course at a time when budgets are reducing the workforce".

He said there would "probably" be fewer people transferring to NCA from Soca than work there now. But he said the Government could still add extra roles to the new organisation in the future.

A Home Office spokesman said: "The NCA will transform our response to organised crime and confront the serious criminality that threatens the safety and security of the UK. It will have full resources available to deliver this crucial role."

Mr Bristow, who will move from being Chief Constable of Warwickshire, said he would seek to strip dangerous criminals of status symbols such as cars and jewellery to stop them from being idolised by youngsters.