The NCA's Serious Crime Analysis Section (SCAS) works to identify the potential emergence of serial killers and serial rapists at the earliest stage of their offending.
I am the current placement student for SCAS. I am studying Psychology at the University of Bath.
My duties include obtaining daily offender updates by scanning the media for potential updates on cases. I also carry out weekly environmental scanning of the media to provide more general information surrounding crime and policing, and compile an internal office newsletter every month to keep SCAS staff up to date.
Recently I have been involved in a project concerning online dating sites, which has aimed to make online dating safer for people when meeting up for the first time. This has involved running analysis on crime data to generate statistics regarding victimology and to help further understanding of offences that are facilitated by online dating.
I have also completed a literature review on barriers to victims reporting rape which I hope will be useful to the unit.
I am starting to think about my dissertation topic, which I hope to focus around approach types of stranger rapists. All requests for data to support research from SCAS have to be considered by a research panel before they are granted. The database that SCAS uses to file cases is an extremely valuable source of information that is sought after by many researchers, and so the opportunity to be able to access it is a rare one.
As an Assistant Crime Analyst at SCAS, one of my main duties is to liaise with designated contacts within police forces throughout the UK. For my forces, I will be their first port of call for any queries they have as to whether offences fit our criteria, and I will be sent all of their case submissions. Each Assistant Analyst in SCAS is allocated at least one force so that all police forces have a specific SCAS contact assigned to them.
My other main duty, and the one on which the majority of my time is spent, is to input offences onto the bespoke SCAS database. I am allocated cases and I will read all of the case papers we have and use the information from the various sources to populate our crime database with details of the offence. Once the cases are on the SCAS database they can be searched by a SCAS Analyst in order to identify any potentially linked offences or suspects.
Once the case has been input onto the SCAS database it is picked up by a Crime Analyst. The first thing I do is to contact the investigating officer and agree the work to be carried out. Often, I then conduct comparative case analysis, searching across the cases held on the SCAS database to identify any which may be linked to the original offence. Once my searches are complete I read through the summaries of all the offences returned and look for any that show significant similarity to the original offence. If I’m analysing an undetected offence I will also be looking for any potential suspects held on the SCAS database.
Once my searches are complete, I write a report detailing any similar offences and suspects, including my justifications for highlighting these cases to the investigation. This report is then sent to the investigating officer so that they can progress enquiries.
Another part of my role is to support investigations by carrying out suspect research using police national databases and other data sources.
Although the material which we deal with in SCAS on a day to day basis can be disturbing, when our work leads to a successful outcome it is rewarding for the team. To know that our work is contributing to justice for the victims of these crimes and helping to keep the offenders off the street so that they are no longer available to offend against others is very satisfying. Furthermore our work can help save police resources, particularly pertinent given the current economic climate. We provide services at SCAS that may be less readily available locally and these can really help to focus lines of enquiry for the investigating force.
To be honest there wasn't a specific reason, I heard about the NCA looking for volunteers to become Specials and I thought that it would give me a chance to try and help, and at the same time develop myself as both an individual and an IT/Security professional.
I've spent my entire career working in IT, mostly in infrastructure related roles (servers, networks that kind of thing). Strangely enough though the "niche" skill I bought to the agency is around an Open Source Intelligence program. I write custom code that enables it to be used for more specific functions and although I'm still getting my head around the way the agency works I hope it will help make a real difference in the long term.
I'm not sure I would say I manage it, it sort of just happens. My employer has kindly agreed to release me for a couple of days a month, so that really helps with feeling like part of the team. In between visits I tend to work on the projects I've been tasked with and then I showcase them on my visits to the offices. Luckily I also have a VERY understanding girlfriend, which helps when my head is buried in my laptop for a few hours in the evenings or at weekends.
Don't be afraid to get involved or ask questions. There are a LOT of acronym's used in the agency and despite working in an industry that loves to make an acronym out of everything I struggle to keep up at times, so if in doubt ask. On my first visit to the office I was asked if I could write some code to do a specific task which I was readily able to assist with. That's the reason you want to become a NCA Special, to help, to share your knowledge, your skills and your passion. You can't do that without getting involved.
I promise I haven't been forced/paid into saying this, but it's the people. From my first visit I was made to feel part of the team, not like I was a stranger invading their territory, they shared their time and more importantly their coffee with me and I look forward to my fortnightly visits for as much for the people, as I do the challenges that await me (and yes they will challenge you).
1. I have spent my professional career chasing the bad guys and this is an extension of that. I am working specifically with the CRT Team which has some cross over with HMRC with whom I have worked for almost all my career.
2. I have had a successful 30 year career (sadly 30 of 50 probably) so feel that I can and should now give something back to society
3. I feel strongly that public private partnerships work well and that each can learn from the other and should do so on an ongoing basis to maximise the efficacy of actions against serious crime.
I am a solicitor of 28 years qualification specialising in civil litigation especially in insolvency, most particularly in fraud related cases relating to tax losses and in injunctive relief and provisional liquidations and interim receiverships. This brings experience of serious organised crime, terrorist funding and money laundering on a regular basis. I am a member of the Insolvency Lawyers’ and Proceeds of Crime Lawyers Associations.
Like most women juggle it all at once!! I then try at weekends to get on my horse and bomb around, walk the dogs and get muddy, and do things with my husband and daughters, and find that that balances things nicely. I have been known to give advice from horseback when urgent.
Do it. It is interesting, different and adds dimensions to your knowledge whilst you are also able to add to the NCA resource. Also you will find you are very much welcomed as an “inmate” into the teams. I was even included in Secret Santa.
The dedication and enthusiasm of the people and the “will do” attitude.
When I retired from the NCA the last operation that I had worked on was still ongoing. I had built up a lot of very detailed knowledge about the subjects during the two years that I had worked on the team, and I wanted to see the work that I had started through to fruition. Thereafter, if I can be of assistance, then I'll do the best that I can. I didn't want to waste the skills and expertise I'd built up during my career.
I worked in criminal investigation for 34 years. For the last 12 years of my career I worked as a financial investigator, and am still an accredited financial investigator.
Because I'm retired there has not been a problem. I have been able to do some work at home, and visit a branch office - when I need access to documents, etc.
Go for it! If you have skills/expertise that will assist the NCA achieve its goals, please share them. Increasingly the tier of criminals pursued by the NCA use sophisticated techniques to achieve their goals, often funded from their criminal activity, and it is vital that the NCA can bring them to justice, and, where appropriate, locate and confiscate their criminal profits.
There is a tremendous amount of satisfaction, and a sense of pride, to be gained from being able to provide assistance to ensure that the Agency achieves the best possible results. I've had a lot of encouragement and support from colleagues with whom I used to work, and have enjoyed meeting up with them again, and becoming a member of a successful team once more.
The only really consistent thing about being an on-call officer in the Anti Kidnap and Extortion Unit (AKEU) is that no two days or nights are the same. When the phone goes, I have no idea what it is going to be. It could be a call about products allegedly being poisoned, or a British national kidnapped abroad, one of our partners wanting some advice, or someone asking me to go to an operational meeting or a conference on the other side of the globe. It’s not formally on the role profile, but “expect the unexpected” should really be in the job description for anyone doing this job.
The AKEU primarily deals with three main threat groups: criminal kidnap (so for a ransom, rather than for any political or terrorist reasons); blackmail and product contamination; which can cover a whole host of things, from sextortion to businesses being targeted. Most of the time we’re supporting and providing tactical advice to partners, such as local forces, the Foreign Office, Europol, Interpol and the United Nations, but we do lead on investigations too, coordinating the law enforcement response to crimes in action, often involving multiple agencies and teams, responding in a tight timeframe with life threatening consequences.
One of the principal skills for the role is having proven investigative training. When we look for new people, that’s always what we’re trying to find. These are complex, multi-faceted investigations happening against a ticking clock, so having well-honed investigation skills, and the tenacity to get to the bottom of a tricky problem, is crucial. I’ve been in law enforcement for 20 years, and go way back, starting my career off in a force, moving to the Regional Crime Squad, and on through the agencies that followed.
As well as working closely on kidnap cases, we’re also called on to deliver training to private companies, and other organisations. I’ve delivered training in Pakistan and Nigeria as well here in the UK. Our small unit is recognised as the world leader in what we do, so we’re often called on to speak at conferences, or weigh in on complicated cases.
When I’m on call, it’s from 8am on a Monday till 8am the following Monday. For that period I clear my diary, although between cases I’ll be at my desk trawling through admin and emails. You could get a call at 9am on a Sunday and be on a plane travelling across the world by 5pm. There’s also no set timescale on anything we do – we’ve had kidnap cases that are over within an hour, but our longest-running case was 13 months.
This is an incredibly exciting job to do, and it’s gratifying to have such a strong international reputation – to be recognised as the leader on the world stage. That said, we’re always learning and improving, and when officers join our team, they bring something new to the table. The support that I get from my colleagues is so important – whether it’s emotional support following a tough case, or brainstorming ideas when we’ve hit a roadblock in an investigation, we know we can rely on each other. And while the hours can be tough and unsociable, the balance between my home and work life is important and something I keep in mind. I’m pretty sure I have one of the most interesting jobs in law enforcement, and the variety certainly keeps me on my toes; but that satisfaction of going home, knowing that you’ve helped keep someone safe and alive - it just can’t be beaten.
To find out more about kidnap and extortion please visit our Kidnap and extortion section.
There are four of us – NCA and seconded police officers – covering all of the UK. We have a dual role. One aspect is advising law enforcement (including NCA colleagues) on human trafficking investigations; the other is supporting victims.
When a potential victim of human trafficking is identified we are available 24 hours a day to support whichever agency is dealing with the case.
Our job is to give advice on how a human trafficking case might play out, set out investigative options, explain the risks and our duty of care towards the victims, including best practice for interviewing them and the National Referral Mechanism. We work in partnership with law enforcement to devise the best tactics, not only to protect the victims but also to deal with the criminality.
While there is a growing awareness of trafficking and modern slavery, many officers haven’t dealt with investigations like this before; that’s where we add value. Human trafficking, while organised, isn’t always like other crimes. It can involve different cultures and methods, and the biggest issue is supporting the victims.
Victim care is paramount but it is also essential that we investigate the criminals – the financial gain from human trafficking can be huge. Greater awareness and partnership working, here and internationally, are improving intelligence flows. This is crucial; it’s not always easy to get intelligence from the victims as they’re often too afraid to speak out.
We need to gain the victims’ trust to have any chance of obtaining evidence from them. We start by letting them know their rights and the support they are entitled to. We at the Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) have developed the use of multi agency reception centres which we can facilitate on behalf of partners and the victims. Often victims live and work in poor conditions with little clothing or food and no pay. We take them to safety to meet their immediate needs and provide medical and psychological support while maximising every opportunity to gather evidence against the offenders.
The tactical adviser is a niche role. You need an investigative background, be willing to learn and know when to do your research. When you’re on the ground you always come across new things.
Good communication and negotiating skills are crucial. There can be a lot more to a case than meets the eye. Officers with little experience of investigating human trafficking need clear information and guidance to understand the risks. Good communication and trust are essential if investigations are to succeed.
Find out more about the Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU).