Stewart Dickson MLA said: “I have no doubt that the absence of a fully functioning National Crime Agency is negatively impacting upon our ability to deal with serious organised crime. The Justice Minister has said that there is now clear evidence of a major gap in our ability to tackle criminal gangs.
“The opposition of Sinn Fein and the SDLP to the NCA being fully operational in Northern Ireland has forced the PSNI to step in and carry out some of these duties. This is obviously putting a strain on PSNI resources and finances, and comes at a time when the Chief Constable has expressed in stark terms the impact of cuts on the Police.
“The NCA was set up to connect different police forces with national and international crime-fighting agencies, meaning Northern Ireland is losing out on valuable connections to combat human trafficking, drug smuggling and child exploitation. Without a fully functioning NCA, our response to these crimes has arguably been less effective than it could have been.
“The Justice Minister has recently published a set of proposals to answer the concerns of the SDLP and Sinn Fein surrounding the accountability of the NCA in Northern Ireland. I believe they should accept this package to ensure that the public are fully protected.”