A new British "Organised Crime Agency" is due to be announced by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary later on today, according to the usual media manipulation leaks.
Will the concentration in power drawn from the National Crime Squad, the National Criminal Intelligence Service and the investigative branches of the Immigration Service and of Customs & Excise actually do a better job than the current setup, where cooperation between departments has in theory been good, but in practice seems to have fallen foul of the usual turf wars and empire building that state security bureaucracies always seem to indulge themselves in at the taxpayers expense.
Just how effectively will the appalling state of Her Majesty's Customs & Excise investigations be addressed by this new Agency, or will HMCE still retain an invesigative branch ?
Monday February 9, 2004
A group of customs officers systematically committed perjury in court and lied to judges in secret hearings or allowed others to do so, according to evidence seen by the Guardian.
"Customs bosses have been formally warned by police that at least 16 officials from all ranks, including the solicitors' office in charge of the LCB prosecutions, could be charged with offences including perjury, perverting the course of justice and malfeasance in a public office."
There will, presumably have to be new Statutory Instruments to allow this new Agency rather than the National Crime Squad or the National Criminal Intelligence Service to conduct Electronic Surveillance and to use Covert Human Informants under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
The disgraceful turf wars, lack of coordination and duplication of effort, between various UK police and intelligence agencies was described last year by Nick Davies in the Guardian.
"The system from hell
Will it be truely National. i.e. will it include Scotland and Northern Ireland ?
Will there be extra funding for this new Agency ?
What are the limits on its power, and who audits those powers ?
What will the complaints procedure be ?
Or is this just going to be yet another Government soundbite policy ?