Serious Organised Crime Agency ("SOCA")
The Serious Organised Crime Agency ("SOCA") was created on 1 April 2006 following the merger of a number of the former criminal intelligence services previously responsible for monitoring serious drug trafficking and organised immigration crime. SOCA's brief was to tackle organised crime and is now the UK's main organisation for managing drug control. As it approaches its fourth anniversary, people are asking "Is it working?"
With an annual budget of £500m, a recent Home Affairs Committee report has called for SOCA to do more to justify its existence. The report has criticised the organisation and its methods as lacking in transparency and accountability and calls for the creation of a new body to scrutinise and oversee the work of SOCA.
Despite SOCA's reported seizure of 38 tonnes of cannabis and 85 tonnes of cocaine last year, a result which led an agency spokeswoman to confirm that "SOCA's priority is stopping cocaine before it reaches the UK's borders", the new criticisms come hot on the heels of a reported increase in the UK's use, and trade, of drugs at a time when other countries are reporting a decline.
The Committee's Chairman, Keith Vaz, said "It may be time for SOCA to have some measurable targets". SOCA has previously come under fire for spending £15 for every £1 seized from criminal gangs.
Figures released by The Independent on Sunday suggest that, SOCA is not preventing cocaine from reaching the streets: it is now the drug most often recovered on the UK streets. The head of the National Drugs Prevention Alliance believes that it is easier to smuggle drugs into Britain today than it has been at any time in the last 30 years.Irwin Mitchell has a significant amount of experience of investigations carried out by various authorities including the Serious Organise Crime Agency. We have offices across the country and are able to respond to your needs wherever your business is based.
If you have any questions regarding the issues raised in this article please contact Sarah Wallace or Joanne Hall on 0370 1500 100 or 020 7421 3883.