‘It was a year of hard choices’: NCA director general Lynne Owens reflects on 2020

2020 was a year unlike any other, with the coronavirus pandemic upending the work of government and changing how we live our daily lives. Senior figures from across the civil service tell us how the unprecedented 12 months affected them, and look ahead to 2021
NCA director general Lynne Owens. Photo Louise Haywood-Schiefer

By Civil Service World

18 Dec 2020


What are you proudest of your department or agency achieving in 2020?

The National Crime Agency has continued to protect the public and shown great agility as criminals flexed their methods through covid; we have protected children from sickening abusers, seized drugs, firearms and illicit cash, targeted people traffickers and identified significant cyber criminals. Our results speak for themselves – check out our social media platforms to understand more.

What was the hardest part of being a leader in 2020?

I have been a law enforcement officer for over 31 years and this is the first time in my many leadership roles where there has been a wholesale public threat (in this case a pandemic, exploited by criminals) concurrent with our officers and their families feeling threatened or at risk. My responsibility was to balance our service to the public with my care for those I am privileged to lead. This led to some hard choices and only others can judge if I got that right.

What are the main challenges facing your organisation in the coming year?

The threat from serious and organised crime continues to evolve, often enabled by technology. It isn’t the most exciting conversation but ensuring that we have the right infrastructure on which to build the modern data and technologies we need is vital. Criminals will continue to adapt to circumstances as they see them (eg Covid, EU exit) and we must stay on top of that – our determination to protect the public will remain paramount

People will have to be more creative about celebrating this year. How will you make the festive period on Zoom special?

I love Christmas but, for any period I am not on call or working, it will be spent, as always, with my little family bubble. Don’t expect to find any Zoom footage of me in a dodgy party hat or worse!

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