News & what's on - Written by on Thursday, May 18, 2017 14:04 - 0 Comments

Announcement of SFO merger into the NCA must be followed with detailed plans and assurances now

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harlequin-fraud-office“We will strengthen Britain’s response to white collar crime by incorporating the Serious Fraud Office into the National Crime Agency, improving intelligence sharing and bolstering the investigation of serious fraud, money laundering and financial crime.”

In these few words in the Conservative Party Manifesto the fate of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office was sealed.

With a Conservative Government considered a racing certainty with the pundits only arguing over the size of the landslide majority  the SFO’s future (or lack of it), merged into the National Crime Agency, is now only a matter of time.

Against this backdrop the focus must shift from the seeking to prevent the SFO takeover by the NCA and should now be on what the merged entity looks like and making good the manifesto pledge that the end of the SFO signals a strengthening of Britain’s response to white collar crime.

As any comms person will tell you  in circumstances like this, first and foremost, PR must be targeted to those working for the SFO.

Like any organisation the SFO is only as strong as its people.  Plans must first be shared with, and assurances given to, those working for the SFO to prevent atrophy of staff, or worse, a mass exodus – either of which would make the ‘merger’ of the SFO into the NCA meaningless.

Second, it is imperative that detailed plans on the future of the ‘SFO’ within the NCA are published and consulted upon more widely to ensure the manifesto pledge to strengthen the response to white collar crime is delivered.

The battle to keep the SFO was never about maintaining an organisation for the sake of it.  Instead it was about a fear that the end of the SFO would signal the end of a focus on the part of law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of serious fraud.

Against a backdrop of Brexit it has never been more important that when it comes to doing business, the UK being considered a safe place with a level playing field for all.

David Green has got his work cut out in the final year of his tenure.

 

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