FSA seeks industry views on new Food Crime Unit powers
A consultation launched by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is seeking views from food industry partners on proposed upgrades to the investigatory powers of its food crime division.
The National Food Crime Unit (NFCU) is a law enforcement unit of the FSA tackling serious, organised, or complex cases of crime in relation to food. Its role is to detect, investigate and disrupt serious fraud and related criminality within food supply chains, across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 which received Royal Assent on 28th April, includes a regulation-making power for the Secretary of State to confer additional investigatory powers upon food crime officers of the FSA in England and Wales.
The Act also brings the NFCU under the remit of the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
FSA stakeholders in England and Wales are invited to respond to a 12-week consultation on the proposed investigatory powers. Separate legislation governing investigatory powers applies in Northern Ireland. The FSA said that it intends to hold a consultation for Northern Ireland in due course.
This consultation does not apply to Scotland, where Food Standards Scotland’s dedicated Scottish Food Crime and Incidents Unit is responsible for delivering the food crime response.
The consultation is available on the FSA website.
FSA chief executive Emily Miles said that the proposed changes are “a crucial/vital tool to make sure that investigations can happen more quickly, while also freeing up local police services so their vital resources can be diverted to other priorities.
“At the same time, any use of these investigatory techniques will be restrained, focussing on effective regulation to prevent and detect food crime, and subject to robust controls and external scrutiny.”