back to article SOCA 'faces axe'

The Serious and Organised Crime Agency, created just four years ago and presented as Britain's answer to the FBI, is to be scrapped by coalition ministers, it's reported. A Home Office consultation to be published today will propose replacing the secretive organisation with a National Crime Agency, which would include a new …

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That was quick

It seems at the moment its just "SCRAP EVERYTHING THE LAST GOVERNMENT DID, also did we tell how bad they were?!?!"

How about adapting some of the structures that are there instead of rebuilding everything, especially at SOCA it seems silly since they must have bought and paid for some serious kit and be experienced at using it.

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Yes, steady on

It takes 4 years for the oversight committee with responsibility for the steering group that provides guidelines to the asset management strategy team to bring in a special advisor to outsource the decision about which consultancy to use in order to produce a really top quality mission statement.

How can you expect to see any results before every civilian support staffer has a mug and/or pen with that mission statement on it to inspire them?

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So interception modernization might not be and Peadogeddon may be delayed.

Somehow I can't quite see the downfall of civilization being imminent.

Perhaps a bit *more* oversight of Big Jim and the Paedo Hunters club might be in order. Let's see *all* those *billions* of suspect members of the KDF fan club*. shall we?

*That figure is made up, but then I suspect so are most numbers thrown round by the "Pro" monitor everything, everywhere lobby in these debates.

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Interception Modernization

Has nothing to do with SOCA, that's their chums in Cheltenham.

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Happy

Is it me?

I think you'll find that SOCA *is* lead agency for managing this and rolling out. The data management (AFAIK) is the bit that is being handled at Cheltenham. I'm merely reminding people of things already covered by El Reg.

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Anonymous Coward

You would think.

The new national crime agency will build on SOCA, there is no other sensible choice, SOCA hold all the skills for dealing with cross (force) border and international crime, so no matter what the replacement is, it will still be the same people doing it.

The other thing about SOCA is that it may have a poor reputation in the UK, but outside the UK it doesn't, and indeed it is responsible for UK Policing's international relations.

It is not, allegedly, liked by most senior police officers because it deals with all the glamour crimes, and especially the Met. who believe they are already the UK FBI. Until recently, they said little about their success, letting the local force take the credit, as they were the ones who kicked down the doors. They actually see themselves as more of an intelligence agency, with the disadvantage of the fact serious criminals are far far nastier than spies, identifying a SOCA officer might very well have permanent consequences for them and their families.

Headlines like the one about recovering £1 for every £15 spent on them are also misleading. That part of their business was picked up from the Asset Recovery Agency, who consume a lot less of their budget. Their mission is to reduce harm, and the best way of doing that, is not always sending people to jail. You might also dwell on the fact that the UK government spends far less on stopping drug trafficking than the traffickers spend on doing it.

It's also fair to say that the NPIA IT and SOCA would have been merged anyway regardless of government, with training going to maybe ACPO, but more likely SERCO.

Whatever comes out, SOCA will still be the starting point, it won't be a whole new agency, as simple things like court cases and letting new IT contracts take years of time which the Home Office simply doesn't have, and the criminals won't stop just because SOCA has gone away for a while and they need time to sort things out.

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Anonymous Coward

You should have mentioned...

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/04/27/columbia_bus_data/

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Anonymous Coward

CEOP: Value For Money?

"...The restructuring would apparently also put paid to CEOP chief executive Jim Gamble's plans to take his organisation independent. It has so far been overseen by SOCA, but following lobbying the last government agreed to make it a non-departmental public body in its own right. Reports suggest that move is now off the agenda..."

CEOP have long required a reappraisal. Under NuLabour they prospered beyond their wildest dreams, encouraged by a succession of spineless, craven Home Secretarys, too blinkered to criticize, too weak to confront them on any of their increasingly hysterical (and publically unsubstantiated) utterances.

CEOP seemed to have perfected the art of opaque scaremongering, whilst enjoying, again under NuLabour, unique access to Parliament and the very process of law making. For instance, you can lay the blame for the existence of both the ridiculous 'extreme pr0n' and laughable-if-it-wasn't-so-spiteful 'cartoon pr0n' laws at CEOP's unashamed door - they were very vocal in their support for the new laws and present at all the Parliamentary consultations.

Last year, by their own admission, CEOP cost the UK taxpayer £12.5million (they also received cash and technical donations from their sponsors in the private sector). What exactly did the taxpayer get back for their tens of £millions over the past twelve months alone? Hmmm. They claim to have 'rescued' more children from harm ('safeguarded' is the current favorite buzzword). This year's figure for 'safeguarded' children is up on last year's (a brief look at previous CEOP annual reviews sees, unsurprisingly, the numbers steadily rising year-on-year).

Meanwhile, by their own admission, online CP - especially the 'commercial' kind - is on a steady, managed, decline. CEOP continue to lurk about in chat rooms and have a keen interest in torrents, P2P and social networking sites... in essence, they sense their job description evaporating (or at the very least metamorphosing) before their eyes, so the need to continually reinvent is paramount if they are not face budgetary extinction.

Hence, the announcement they are to become the UK's premier 'missing kids' agency. Oh - and just a small detail - they are also (possibly) to begin trialling polygraph (lie detector) tests at some indeterminate point in the near future. We're not told why, but left to wonder if anyone at CEOP will have the wit to put a 'Room 101' plaque on the door.

The only people to see real value in CEOP's continued existence are the tabloids and broadcast media, who seem to gleefully parrot everything the good Reverend Gamble seems to have to say on The Great Moral Panic without even a hint of irony. None of them seem to want to have a bad word said against the organisation. How very odd.

Coalition Ministers and their accountants are determined, it seems, to extract a little more 'value' from CEOP this time around. No doubt the dying days of the NuLabour administration saw CEOP attempt to manoeuvre itself into a more favorable position for it's own budgetary survival post-election, possibly in the foreknowledge that the years of unconditional public handouts were almost certain to come to an end once The Dear Leader and his Politburo got the heave-ho.

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@GeorgeTuk.

Agreed. It's been running a few years, but at the beginning was a mish mash of peoples from different organisations. It was bound to have teething troubles.

They seem to be at last showing some cohesiveness, those two fat drug dealers for instance, and so seems to me to be mad to abandon it now. (Unless they just want to change the name.)

I would however mandate two things.

1. The abandonment of their outsourcing strategy. costs a fortune, bound to be ripped off.

2. The sacking of their entire HR department who seem to me to be intent on free lunches with recruitment consultants.

As for the deviant hunters at CEOP. Well, I think they should be granted execute privilege on their targets.

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Black Helicopters

Title

"As for the deviant hunters at CEOP. Well, I think they should be granted execute privilege on their targets."

What a great and well thought out idea. Who are their targets again? Oh yeah, anyone who has a photo of their kid in the bath or underage kids sexting each other ... or anyone who has seen the London 2012 logo ... and so on. We're gonna need more dieing holes ...

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Is policing supposed to make a profit then?

Are we expecting the police to fund themselves through fines, then? If not, why is it a surprise that it costs more to get fines (and reclaim ill-gotten gains) from scrotes than it costs to implement it? After all, chokey isn't free either.

The point is quite simply that if you're a major drugs pusher, pimp or fence, you *can't* any more spend 6 months inside and then come back out to your fancy Mayfair flat. You lose *everything* you got from crime, which is entirely how it should be. I don't care that it costs more to make this happen than they get back from the scrotes - I want the punishment to fit the crime. In the case of career criminals, losing the house over your kiddies' heads and your wife's jewellery is a far better punishment than any amount of jail time.

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@British FBI

So the organisation ended up ignoring serious organised crime while pursuing witch hunts for imaginary groups of millions of ordinary people committing a thought crime the media and hence politicians don't like.

It was more interested in the financial and political advancement of it's boss than protecting the public and managed to alienate local law enforcement.

Well you can't say you weren't warned.

ps. have we discovered if the director wears a dress yet?

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Yes, What's With The FBI Comparison?

I was about to make a similar post before I scrolled down to yours.

To say that the FBI's reputation was tarnished for decades (even before the revelations about Hoover were uncovered) is an understatement. I wonder if the current comparisons are based on images on TV shows, instead of reality.

Yes, I suspect that the FBI is a better organization now than it has been, but I also suspect that's because that's because of retirement of the old guard.

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Getting kind of crowded out there

Maybe the trouble with Apple 4's not working is that so many government bodies, together with illicit private ones, are tapping rhe communications.

You have GCHQ, the US NSA (who monitor almost every cell network in the world [remember they were caught in Greece?]), BT, SOCA and who knows how many others.

GCHQ could look after all this police activity - they are most likely checking porn for steganography anyway - and the NSA most likely are covering them anyway.

Customs/immigration should suffice for the borders - there is no need for the police there. Now the Army is being pulled out of Afghanistan they could replace the Plods touting machine guns at airports.

The only problem is all these unemployed would be on the dole and the savings would be less than envisaged

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Now hold on

You can't have four letters in your acronym! Every alphabet soup gubbermint agency is only allowed three alphanumeric characters to make it easy for the average bloke and for nice looking reports. Once a fourth character is added the agency becomes another red headed stepchild that has to do twice as much with half the money and respect.

Yes, I know they get the job done and are more efficient than most gubbermint agencies but they just don't get the press, three letters is where the glory is. Proof? In the US there are NIST, NOAA and NASA all quietly getting the work done but NSA, DHS, DOD, SSA, CDC and IRS get all the accolades while doing work at half the quality.

Now then, learn from MI5, MoD, DfE, MoJ and GAD. So, off with you, fetch a three letter acronym and don't come back without one. No, I'll have none of that two letter talk! Don't get me started on those damn two letter acronym hooligans!

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Joke

It's a regualr complaint

Especially at NCIS.

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@AC, SOCA

It really doesn't matter whether SOCA have a good reputation internationality, one could say that's because the international organisations are so far away that they're not aware of what goes on in the UK.

The fact remains that SOCA is incredibly top heavy when it comes to management and bureaucracy. But this is so typical of British organisations, it's a cultural thing which we British are known for. There's something wrong with the people at the top, that seem to think that managers are more important than people doing the ground work.

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