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A new national UK Protected Persons Service was created on Monday, 1 April, which will see protected persons units come under the leadership of the National Crime Agency (NCA) for the first time.
The NCA has operated its own Protected Persons Unit, which included the UKPPS Central Services, providing strategic co-ordination to the regional units, since 2013. But now officers and staff will transfer or be seconded into the NCA to form a new national service.
The UK Protected Persons Service provides protection to people judged to be at risk of serious harm and in need of specialist protection arrangements. This may include witnesses, victims of crime facing significant threats or individuals in some way helping with the investigation of serious crime.
The move to create a single national service was agreed by the National Police Chiefs Council in 2017, and was an action from the government’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy in 2018.
The units will continue to be based regionally under the management of the NCA and those already receiving protection arrangements will see no change, the NCA said.
"The NCA’s mission is to lead the fight to cut serious and organised crime. As part of that we aim to develop and deliver specialist capabilities that are best delivered nationally," NCA director general Lynne Owens said.
"This change is consistent with that. It will enable us to build on the siloed foundations of the previous system to developing a service that can provide a significant contribution to the fight against serious and organised crime."
Moving to a national structure is expected to ensure consistent delivery and oversight of a unique and specialist service.
"The national UKPPS will ensure those in need receive the expert support and protection no matter where they are in the UK," Minister for Security and Economic Crime Ben Wallace said.
"The establishment of a truly national protected persons service underlines the commitment by this government that our number one priority is public safety," he concluded.