The SNP cooperates, but Northern Ireland stays partly aloof from UK National Crime Agency

 

Isn’t  this amazing? Here we have a Scottish government poised for a referendum on independence, yet in the meantime enthusiastically co-operating with making the new UK National Crime Agency effective in Scotland.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The introduction of Serious Crime Prevention Orders will give law enforcement agencies another vital tool in their kit.

“The Scottish Government is consulting on their introduction, which we hope will follow a similar format to those in place in England and Wales, in the near future and seek views on how they will ­operate in Scotland.

“We will remain in dialogue with the UK Government on how we could best introduce legislation around these.”

Scottish Government spokesman said: “The introduction of Serious Crime Prevention Orders will give law enforcement agencies another vital tool in their kit.

“The Scottish Government is consulting on their introduction, which we hope will follow a similar format to those in place in England and Wales, in the near future and seek views on how they will ­operate in Scotland. “We will remain in dialogue with the UK Government on how we could best introduce legislation around these.”

While in Northern Ireland legislation to make the Agency fully effective has been blocked. Justice minister David Ford hopes a way be yet be found..  Fighting crime across borders or  playing politics, which comes first?  If they managed some sort of agreement over  MI5, why not for this ?

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  • cynic2

    Why not for this?

    Its a simple analysis. All the publicity suggests that the new agency’s priorities will be:

    * tackling organised crime
    * child exploitation / abuse and human trafficking
    * taking money off the Mr Bigs of crime

    None of these appeal to SFs agenda so why would they ever let this through?

  • Morpheus

    One of the cornerstones of the GFA was a representative police service which was representative, transparent and accountable – getting around that though the backdoor is wrong so make the NCA accountable to the PSNI and, by extension, the Policing Board to ensure that accountability and transparency are maintained. I am sure the PSNI and the people of Northern Ireland would welcome the additional support.

    Comparisons with Scotland, England and Wales is not apples with apples – as far as I am aware they did not suffer the levels of state collusion that we had here in Northern Ireland which destroyed the reputation of the RUC

  • Turgon

    This debacle is the clear inevitable outworking of the devolution of P&J. Sinn Fein were never going to accept such a unified UK police agency and one which was outwith their control. That is especially relevant as this agency is tasked with amongste other things the fight against terrorism.

    To be fair this is SF doing what republicans are meant to do. All it shows is the folly of the initial decision to devolve P&J.

    Of course one Brian Walker on slugger did indeed support the devolution of P&J and then over the murders at Masserene Barracks had an article suggesting “Ease up on Sinn Fein.

    To complain about an obvious consequence of support for devolution of P&J is foolish and to criticise Sinn Fein for their consistency on this sort of issue whilst previously suggesting people “ease up” on them is folly.

  • Turgon

    sorry above should have said tasked amongst other things with the fight against terrorism and organised crime.

  • Perhaps collaboration will continue much as before and there will continue to be some politically protected species.

    Keith Vaz has highlighted perhaps a greater concern about the effectiveness of the changes:

    Keith Vaz, the chairman of the influential Home Affairs Select Committee said: “The organisations going into the NCA have a combined budget of £812m, yet the new agency will only have £473.9m next year.

    “The Home Office needs to account for where this money has gone.”

  • cynic2

    Fair comment Nevin.

    The answer is to plug the holes in the Home Office’s budget. Champagne and flowers don’t come cheap

  • sherdy

    If the NCA is such an advance in policing how come they are looking for volunteers?

  • socaire

    Is the ‘nation’ referred to, the Irish nation?

  • Ruarai

    “Playing politics”?

    Brian, if you think accountable policing in Ireland is a past time, think again.

  • cynic2

    Nope ….its a UK national body. However the UK is the nation we signed up o when we all voted in the referendum.

    And if we want to opt out because it is British do we also opt out of the British National Health Service?

  • cynic2

    “accountability” is an interesting term.

    SF famously went into the Police Board to ‘put manners on the police” but turned out to be poodles. What have they actually done apart from object to the New NCA focused on organised crime (predictable) and child exploitation (unusual).

    All those ex RUC peelers were reemployed and they didn’t even notice.

    HET was a chocolate fireguard and whoops they missed that too

    When the PSNI didn’t do mass arrests of Prods for the flegs protest they asked a lot of challenging questions. Well that is what the SF press releases said but we never actually saw the questions or the answers and I presume they must be happy because nothing much happened

    Still it keeps the sheep happy thinking they are in control

  • Charles_Gould

    If Stormont collapses then we can expect this, and university fees.

  • Brian Walker

    Ruarai cynic 2 i and others,,

    Accountability is certainly worth looking at but there are the other issues such as anti-crime coordination. The formal position is that accountability for MI5 is through the Home Secretary as “national security” is not devolved. Although they grumble about “securocrats” Sinn Fein puts up with MI5’s operations. Why not the new National Crime Agency? The MI5 protocols were created before justice and policing devolution and they like to describe SOCA the NCA’s predecessor as an MI5 front. Presumably it suits them for MI5 to deal with the dissidents.

    But Assembly legislation was required to enable the NCA to operate fully and they seized their chance. It came up at a particularly bad time at the height the flags dispute. Would they have vetoed it anyway? Probably , as an isolated “British” measure. A rethink will be difficult especially if it’s allowed to become a major zero sum game.

    The way to sell the NCA is to put it on a par with cross border cooperation and gain support for it from the Republic.

    This isn’t a backward argument against the devolution of J&P – do you never want control over your own policing, parading and victims management? – but a case for the development of mature politics. If you don’t keep grinding on it’ll never happen. In the meantime the PSNI acts as the NCA agent to achieve the coordination all responsible bodies want – including An Garda Síochána.

    Whatever the demands of local accountability you can be sure that powers that be will do their damnedest to prevent NI becoming a loophole in their coverage, just as MI5 seems to operate effectively.

  • Turgon

    Brian Walker,
    That is a very weak argument. It was always inevitable once P&J was devolved Sinn Fein would oppose “British” policing which was going to mean national police measures such as this. The fact that it is targeted against organised criminals would simply make them even more opposed to it as such a body might take a more effective interest in the fuel smuggling and enviromental destruction in South Armagh.

    If this issue is to become part of some foolish negotiation that simply shows the folly of the current arrangement. Should we need to negotiate to clamp down on organised criminals and people traffickers when the rest of the UK already does so?

    My point above was that you noted that people needed to “ease up” on Sinn fein which meant not demand that they support law and order too much. Now you are complaining about the inevitable outworking of such calls

  • cynic2

    “Although they grumble about “securocrats” Sinn Fein puts up with MI5’s operations”

    More than that surely. In the negotiations did SF not insist on this line of accountability because they wanted to sign up top policing but didn’t want to be saddled with the responsibility to deal with the dissidents. They actively sought this position.

    They may also have assumed that it might be easier to negotiate with Downing Street to back off on too much action against their associates in the movement as it might ‘damage the process’ while a locally based Justice Minister (present company excepted) might have been harder to gull

  • Framer

    Is the SDLP still against it as well as SF? Or are they rethinking that along with the McCreesh playpark and the Ann Travers SPAD bill.
    Indeed what is going on in big Al’s head at present?
    Is an election looming in South Belfast where the nicer Prods’ votes are needed?