Queen's Speech 2012: National Crime Agency To Be Created

09/05/2012 11:55

A US-style National Crime Agency to tackle serious and organised crime and protect the UK's borders will be enshrined in laws unveiled by the Queen today.

The agency has already been announced as a replacement for the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which itself was heralded as "Britain's FBI" when it was launched by Labour in 2006.

A Crime and Courts Bill will establish the NCA to tackle serious, organised and complex crime, enhance border security, and tackle the sexual abuse and exploitation of children and cyber crime.

The NCA, headed by former Warwickshire Police chief constable Keith Bristow, will also take in the work of the National Missing Persons Bureau.

The Government is considering whether the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Services Authority should be merged into the new agency.

Critics have warned the NCA will be too large to be effective.

The Government has said too many of the 38,000 individuals and 6,000 gangs involved in organised crime, which costs the UK up to £40 billion a year, have escaped justice.

But Labour sources said the agency was "fundamentally a reorganisation of Soca" and added they were concerned that the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) was being scrapped.

They said: "According to documents from Her Majesty's Inspectorate, the maintenance and delivery of the police national computer will pass to the NCA - suggesting that rather than crime-fighting, it will have an increased administrative role previously delivered by the NPIA.

"Chief constables are very concerned that scrapping bodies like the NPIA will mean losing focus on crime-fighting and worrying about the delivery of training, IT and other services instead.

"And the Home Secretary (Theresa May) has refused in parliamentary questions to confirm the budget for the NCA. With the loss of 16,000 officers, further cuts to the reorganised body will only undermine it even further."

The sources added: "Re-announcing, for the third time, a reorganisation of our country's organised crime agency is not going to cut it for the public who are worried about the loss of their local bobbies on the beat."

The Bill will strengthen powers of UK Border Force officers and introduce the offence of drug-driving.

Powers will also be brought in to enable magistrates to dispense summary neighbourhood justice and the system for paying fines will be changed so offenders, not taxpayers, incur the cost of delaying payment.

Courts will also be reformed, enabling judges to move between courts more efficiently and allowing television cameras into courtrooms to help demystify the justice system.

The Bill will also reform judicial appointments to improve transparency and diversity.

09/05/2012 16:59 BST

Labour was 'hyper-active', according to George Eustice

Conservative MP George Eustice has told the BBC that the problem with Labour was its "hyper-active legislation"

"They spent ages bringing in bills that were badly thought through sand then they needed to use sessions to undo what they’d done and reverse the mistakes they’d made," he said.

“I think this government had a full session, a very long session – two years – some very big pieces of legislation went though, and I actually think it’s right that you don’t just jam the programme with endless legislation for the sake of it.”

09/05/2012 16:24 BST

Zac Goldsmith fears retreat on MP recall

The government has been accused of quietly rowing back on political reform by omitting plans to introduce the power to recall MPs mid-term from the Queen's Speech.

Tory backbencher Zac Goldsmith questioned why a Bill was not mentioned in the list of legislation announced on Wednesday morning.

"So where was the promised Recall Bill in the Queen's speech? How can Government expect to 'rebuild trust' if it so casually drops key promises?" he said.

09/05/2012 16:07 BST

Is Cameron saying lobbying reform has been delayed till next year?

@ ChrisMasonBBC :

David Cameron dismisses lack of bill on lobbying in the Queen's Speech, saying there will be another Queen's Speech next year.

09/05/2012 16:03 BST

PM: My government is doing what this country needs

The Prime Minister has mounted a robust defence of his government in the House Of Commons.

He said:

"This is a government that confronts the long-term challenges that we face, and that is what our country needs. A government that rolls up its sleeves to deal with the deficit, not an Opposition that thinks you can borrow your way out of debt."

"A Coalition government that is determined to unleash the private sector, spread growth around our country, sort out our financial services. Not a Labour one that bloated the public sector, sat back while an unregulated banking sector brought our country to its knees."

"A government that is backing hard-working people, not an Opposition that says it’s on their side but refuses to make work pay, refuses to cap welfare and wants to heave debts onto our children."

"This is a government that is taking the tough decisions to help families who work hard and do the right thing. Acting for the long term, governing in the national interest, this is a Queen’s speech to rebuild Britain, and I commend it to the House."

09/05/2012 15:53 BST

Graham Jones MP says Cameron is 'dying on his feet' in the Commons

@ GrahamJones_MP :

Cameron dying on his feet talking about the Queens Speech. Uninspiring. Punch drunk from the omnishambles.

09/05/2012 15:48 BST

Andrew Gwynne MP thinks Cameron is just waffling...

@ GwynneMP :

The PM's response to the Queen's speech debate is waffle. Ed M is obviously still buzzing from the elections. He was at his very best today!

09/05/2012 15:41 BST

Chi Onwurah MP attacks Cameron's 'emptiness'

@ ChiOnwurah :

@Ed_Miliband really nailed the emptiness of a Queen's Speech which doesn't mention jobs & does nothing to create them

09/05/2012 15:35 BST

Cameron summarises his government's agenda...

"It is about a government taking the tough long-term decisions to restore our country to strength, dealing with the deficit, rebalancing the economy and rewarding people who do the right thing."

09/05/2012 15:35 BST

Cameron defends the 'Snoopers' Charter'

Speaking in Parliament, the Prime Minister has defended proposals that have caused controversy for their apparent invasiveness.

“What we are trying to do here is not look at the content of people’s telephone calls, but just to update the measures for finding out who called who and when

“I say to people, of course let’s look at the detail, but I don’t want to be the Prime Minister standing at this despatch box saying ‘we could have done more on terrorism’.”

09/05/2012 15:22 BST

Miliband - endorsing Nadine Dorries?

@ IanDunt :

Miliband wants Nadine Dorries on the government's remuneration committee http://t.co/y9vH2Nro #QueensSpeech

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