London: Seeking to disrupt organised crime, Britain will launch a new 4,500-strong elite force with sweeping powers to hunt down cyber criminals, drug barons, paedophiles and people-smugglers.
The National Crime Agency (NCA), to be launched tomorrow, will "relentlessly pursue organised criminals", Home Secretary Theresa May said today.
She said the body would focus on fighting organised crime, economic crime, border policing, child protection and cybercrime.
"Crime is falling in this country, but we can`t be complacent - and particularly on organised crime. I don`t think the last government put enough emphasis on this.
"At the core of the NCA will be intelligence. It will work at local level and regionally across government, not just the police. It will work internationally as well," May told the BBC.
The NCA will have 4,500 officers and aims to adopt a more visible, joined-up approach than was previously the case.
It will replace the Serious Organised Crime Agency, known as Soca.
It is the third time since 1998 that an organised crime body has been set up.
The National Crime Squad was set up 15 years ago, only to be replaced eight years later by Soca - which is now being scrapped.
The NCA will work with each of the regional police forces in the UK and similar organisations abroad.
It has significant powers to compel police forces in England and Wales to provide assistance and carry out policing operations.
The NCA will have a strategic role in which it will attempt to look at the bigger picture of organised crime in the UK, how it operates and how it can be disrupted.
The NCA will answer directly to the home secretary and will have the same powers in Scotland as it does in England and Wales.