National Crime Agency Admits Incompetence As It Launches Inquiry

Legal Experts Condemn ‘Unlawful’ Gathering Of Evidence


Kate Rawlings, Press Officer | 0114 274 4238

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have welcomed an investigation into the way the National Crime Agency (NCA) issues warrants after reports that they may have been searching properties and seizing evidence unlawfully, for almost a decade.

The NCA has launched an internal inquiry into its use of warrants and production orders because of alleged failings in the way it applies for legal permission to conduct its operations.

The claims follow the collapse of major trials and amid warnings that other cases could be in jeopardy as a result.

Both the Crown Prosecution Service and the NCA are now said to be investigating every type of authorisation the organisation received to raid homes, seize property, and collect telephone and banking records.

According to the report, made by BuzzFeed News, the NCA admitted errors in four major cases – three of which have collapsed at a cost of millions of pounds to the taxpayer.

The NCA’s deputy director Chris McKeogh, admitted the collapsed trials had been due to “incompetence” and added the review would be a “substantial task”.

A statement from the NCA said: “As well as the review, we have issued updated guidance to officers, revised the legal and awareness training for officers applying for warrants, and introduced additional rigour to the application and authorisation process, ensuring all new applications meet the required standard.”

Sarah Wallace, a Partner and Head of the Regulatory & Criminal Investigations team at Irwin Mitchell, said the allegations were “shocking.”  

Expert Opinion
“Given the serious invasion to privacy that a raid, search and seizures involve, the process of obtaining a search warrant must be done lawfully.

If the report is accurate, it is simply unacceptable for law enforcement officers to be engaging in illegal searches that could potentially jeopardise the actual criminal investigation or court proceedings.

It is also shocking that the failures to observe legal requirements are not isolated incidents.

However, just because a search warrant is quashed and a search declared unlawful does not necessarily been that a criminal case is stopped, as in the case of Harry Rednapp who went on to be prosecuted but ultimately acquitted.

Any person who is notified or believes they may have been the subject of an unlawful raid would be wise to seek legal advice about how the search came about.”
Sarah Wallace, Partner