Northern Ireland news

Concerns that NCA has not been meeting Policing Board amid Stormont crisis

The National Crime Agency has not met with the Policing Board since the collapse of the assembly
Connla Young

FRESH concerns have been raised after it emerged the National Crime Agency (NCA) has not met with the Policing Board since the collapse of the assembly.

Under a 2015 memorandum of understanding, the agency's director general is supposed to meet board members twice a year to answer questions about its performance.

It is also expected to provide quarterly written reports.

The NCA, which tackles organised crime, began operating in Britain in 2013 but its powers were not extended to the north until 2015 because of concerns held by nationalists.

The SDLP gave the agency its backing after accountability measures were put in place.

Political representatives were not appointed to the Policing Board after assembly elections last March due to the crisis at Stormont.

Senior officials were given delegated authority to take some decisions but concerns were raised in November after the Department of Justice said the board “cannot exercise any of its functions”.

Former Policing Board member Dolores Kelly said oversight of the NCA is important.

“It was essential in terms of accountability in order to build confidence it was doing what it said on the tin,” she said.

Mrs Kelly said the expectation was that the NCA would provide “added value” to policing and officers would be held to the same human rights standards as the PSNI.

The SDLP representative said her party is “very concerned that the Policing Board has lost some its authority”.

A spokeswoman for the Policing Board said: “Without a fully constituted board, there is no legal authority to discharge the functions conferred in legislation in respect of the NCA and set out in the MOU (memorandum of understanding).

“The director general of the National Crime Agency has however continued to provide performance reports on the work of the NCA.”

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