While I don’t personally subscribe to a conspiracy theory surrounding the merging of the Assets Recovery Agency into SOCA – a conspiracy on the timing of the announcement is a different matter – the NIO seem determined to keep the story alive. The NIO Security Minister and Chair of the Organised Crime Task Force (OCTF), Paul Goggins has released a letter from Home Secretary John Reid[pdf file] to the Secretary of State for Wales etc, reassuring Peter Hain, at his request, that “there will be no reduction in the level of effort on asset recovery in Northern Ireland”.. Perhaps the most relevant point in this is that, if we accept the letter at face value, the Home Secretary doesn’t seem to have consulted, or even informed, the Secretary of State for Wales, etc, of the decision before the original announcement.. Joined up government, anyone?.. anyone?It’s worthwhile noting the opening lines of John Reid’s letter, dated 6 February [pdf file]
ASSET RECOVERY WORK IN NORTHERN IRELAND
We have discussed the future of asset recovery work in Northern Ireland after the merger of the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). You asked for some assurances, which I am happy to offer on my own behalf and on that of SOCA’s Bill Hughes.
First there will be no reduction in the level of effort on asset recovery in Northern Ireland. SOCA will continue to dedicate at least the same level of resource to asset recovery in Northern Ireland as is currently spent by ARA. SOCA are clear that their presence in Northern Ireland will be at least as large as the current ARA office.
and the final lines too..
I hope this helps answer your points. I am copying this letter to Bill Hughes at SOCA, and am happy for you to share the contents of this letter with colleagues as you feel approriate. [added emphasis]
Of course, leaving to one side the wider sharing of the contents than might have been intended, the apparent lack of dialogue wouldn’t have anything to do with any other campaigns.. at all..