The head of the UK’s new Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has admitted he does not have the budget to hire the trained financial investigators necessary to fight organised crime.
At the agency’s official launch yesterday, chairman Sir Stephen Lander told the Financial Times he has already asked the Home Office for extra money to attract forensic accountants and investigators from the private sector.
He said adequately trained financial investigators were in “quite short supply and market driven”, with the £34,000 maximum salaries of Soca officers comparing poorly with the £90,000 top range salary that financial forensics experts can earn in the private sector.
“We are short of some skills in the financial investigation area… we haven’t got them in the numbers we need,” he said.
The majority of Soca’s 4,200 staff have been drawn from two police bodies – the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service. Most of these employees are on similar salaries to those they were earning in their previous jobs.
But the agency is well short of its target of 400 investigators to focus specifically on financial crimes.
Soca has been set up as an FBI-style agency to counter criminal gangs involved in activities such as drug dealing, human trafficking and fraud.