The National Crime Agency (NCA) has announced the creation of the new national UK Protected Persons Service. The move will see protected persons units, which are based in a network of regional organised crime units (ROCUs), come under the leadership of the NCA for the first time.
The NCA has operated its own Protected Persons Unit which included the UKPPS Central Services, providing strategic co-ordination to the regional units, since 2013. Now, officers and staff will transfer or be seconded into the NCA to form a new national service.
The UK Protected Persons Service provides protection to people judged to be at risk of serious harm and in need of specialist protection arrangements. This may include witnesses, victims of crime facing significant threats or individuals in some way helping with the investigation of serious crime.
The move to create a single national service was agreed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council in 2017 and was an action from the Government’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy in 2018.
The units will continue to be based regionally under the management of the NCA and those already receiving protection arrangements will see no change.
Protected persons units based in the Metropolitan Police Service, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Police Scotland will be aligned to the national service and continue to work closely with it.
Cutting serious and organised crime
Speaking about the move, the NCA’s director general Lynne Owens said: “The NCA’s mission is to lead the fight to cut serious and organised crime. As part of that, we aim to develop and deliver specialist capabilities that are best delivered nationally. This change is consistent with that. It will enable us to build on the siloed foundations of the previous system towards developing a service that can provide a significant contribution to the fight against serious and organised crime. Moving to a national structure will ensure consistent delivery and oversight of a unique and specialist service. I’m delighted to welcome those officers who are joining us at the NCA.”
Chief constable Carl Foulkes, the national police lead for protected persons, added: “The development of the national protected persons service has been the subject of significant work between the Home Office, policing and the NCA over a number of years. There’s a clear aspiration from us all to develop the finest service possible established on the reputation built over many years to ensure a consistent service which fits an ever-changing law enforcement environment. As the policing lead, I’m proud to reach this point and excited for the future of the service.”
Ben Wallace, the Minister for Security and Economic Crime at the Home Office, stated: “Any vulnerable person whose life could be in danger must be given the best possible protection. The national UKPPS will ensure those in need receive the expert support and protection no matter where they are in the UK. Those who jeopardise their own safety to bring criminals to justice are the unsung heroes of society and we owe a lot to those officers who provide vital support and protection. The establishment of a truly national protected persons service underlines the commitment by this Government to the fact that our foremost priority is public safety.”