The Serious Fraud Office could be merged with the new FBI-style National Crime Agency under Government plans to tackle corporate corruption and fraud which costs the UK £30 billion a year, the Home Office has said.
Policing Minister Nick Herbert said the new Economic Crime Agency would end the piecemeal approach to tackling white-collar crime.
A consultation on the body, and whether it will be part of the National Crime Agency (NCA), will take place later this year, with “the initial elements of the agency” in place “in shadow form by the end of the summer”, Mr Herbert said.
Both the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Services Authority (FSA) could be merged into the new agency under the plans.
Mr Herbert told the Financial Times: “As the department with the role of crime-fighting, it is right that the Home Office should be focused on economic crime. There has not been that focus until now.”
The NCA is set to replace the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), which was also heralded as “Britain’s FBI” when it was launched by Labour in 2006, with the aim of tackling organised crime and protecting the UK’s borders.
The mother of murdered schoolgirl Sarah Payne criticised plans on Sunday to merge the UK’s child protection agency with the NCA.
Sara Payne, who was given a 50/50 chance of living following a massive brain seizure just over a year ago, said cash-saving measures would undo the good work already done to protect youngsters.
“The merger will result in it being watered down and you won’t have a specialised unit in the end,” she told the News of The World.
Jim Gamble, former chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, quit in October after the change was announced, criticising plans to remove its independence and describing it as a “mistake for child protection”.