Crime-fighters in Europe and the UK have signed a new agreement to boost cooperation on cybercrime and other investigations.
The working agreement between the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), which investigates serious and organized crimes, and Europol will sit under the UK-EU trade and cooperation agreement (TCA). That’s the limited post-Brexit free trade agreement between the two parties signed at the end of 2020.
Although the NCA claimed that “operational cooperation” between the two had continued “effectively and without interruption” since the start of this year, the new working and administrative arrangement will herald a more formal working relationship.
“Shared capabilities protected under the TCA, and now also the new arrangement, include the presence of UK/NCA liaison officers based in Europol headquarters, access to Europol’s secure messaging system, the ability to attend and organize operational and other meetings at Europol, the ability to contribute to Europol analysis projects in order to benefit from the agency’s coordination and analytical functions, and the fast and effective exchange of data,” it explained.
The NCA pointed to its role in helping to ‘takedown’ the Emotet botnet and the DoubleVPN cybercrime service this year as proof of its enduring close relationship with law enforcement agencies in EU member states.
Cooperation on such matters was a key concern of security experts following the Brexit vote in 2016.
Given cybercrime’s borderless, transnational nature, police across jurisdictions recognize the need to share intelligence to promptly track and disrupt organized gangs.
“This arrangement with Europol supports our continued work to tackle the full range of crime threats facing the UK and our European neighbors,” said the NCA’s outgoing director-general, Lynne Owens.
“We are relentlessly focused on tackling serious and organized criminals, including those who abuse children, who fuel violence through trafficking drugs and firearms, who steal money and information through fraud and cybercrime, and those behind the people smuggling which risks the lives of migrants for profit.”