UK and Spain partnership in fighting crime

UK and Spain partnership in fighting crime

Lynne Owens, DG NCA: “Spain is a vital partner for us in the global fight against organised crime, and that partnership will continue to be vital in the future”

Lynne Owens, the Director General of the National Crime Agency (NCA) visited Madrid this week to focus on developing our productive partnerships with Spanish partners, and celebrating the important successes that we have had together, tackling modern slavery, drugs and illegal immigration.

Serious and organised crime is a global phenomenon.  Threats such as cybercrime, modern slavery and organised immigration crime do not respect borders and cannot be tackled in isolation, and the UK and Spain work hand in hand, every day, to tackle the scourge.

Lynne Owens, Director General of the NCA said: 

“I’m delighted to be here to meet my Spanish law enforcement counterparts and discuss our incredibly productive relationship with them. 

“Spain is undoubtedly one of our most important partners in the global fight against organised crime. Every single day, the NCA works closely with Spanish law enforcement  agencies, disrupting criminal activity. Such work protects the public in the UK, Spain and beyond.

“Our ability to share intelligence, biometrics and other data at speed with our European allies is essential to our shared security.  We do this with Spain now, and we will ensure that our cooperation continues productively and effectively after the UK leaves the EU.   This benefits us all.

“The UK will continue to remain an active security, law enforcement and criminal justice partner with our European counterparts. This relationship is essential for both the UK and our European partners.”

The partnerships the UK has built in Spain are fundamental.  They reflect how joint work to tackle serious and organised crime is most effective when it involves cross government effort, from law enforcement, to the public and private sector, to broader international partnerships.  Our joint work demonstrates this, with activity to tackle illegal firearms, organised immigration crime, child sexual exploitation, money laundering and drugs.

Some of the key successes of this joint work between the NCA and Spain are:

  • The arrest and extradition of 80 out of 96 fugitives wanted by the UK as part of our campaign Operation Captura. 34 were arrested in Spain in 2017 with SNP and GC for a range of serious offences, including murder, firearms offences, child sexual exploitation, fraud, drugs.
  • Just last month, thirty nine women, many under the age of 18, were freed from sexual exploitation at the hands of a Nigerian organised crime gang in Spain as a result of a joint operation involving the NCA and Spanish and Nigerian law enforcement partners. A total of 89 people were arrested on suspicion of association to criminal organisations, modern slavery and money laundering. Forty three remain on remand in prison in Spain, following raids at 41 addresses across the country in November last year. The NCA’s international partnerships were crucial to this success, and we will continue to work with agencies in Nigeria and Spain to bring those responsible through the court system. Modern slavery remains a priority for UK law enforcement.
  • Another example: an international law enforcement operation last year resulted in the seizure of close to four tonnes of cocaine from a vessel in the mid-Atlantic. This was a major disruption to international crime groups, depriving them of revenue potentially running into the hundreds of millions of pounds.

And remember, if you have information relating to child sexual exploitation, forced labour, drugs offences, firearms, human trafficking or fugitives:

Contact the National Crime Agency on 00 44 370 496 76 22 quoting code word HOTEL, or go online to  Alternatively you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on the Spanish phone number 900 555 111 where all calls are treated anonymously.


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