Underworld crime fighter Soca enlists media boss

The Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) has poached the DTI's chief press officer to oversee its media function.

Lucy Lancaster is the second permanent PRO to join the low-profile body, which set up last year. She will report to its first PR recruit, head of public affairs Kelly Freeman (PRWeek, 3 February 2006).

Lancaster will lead a team of around four at the organisation, which has been designed to tackle underworld bosses and is frequently referred to by media as the UK version of the FBI.

Despite the sensitive nature of Soca's work, which includes fighting drug smuggling, people trafficking and money laundering, Lancaster said her brief would be a mix of reactive and proactive work.

She declined to discuss details of the post ‘due to the nature of the group's business'.

The Department for Trade and Industry is now on the hunt for her replacement. She leaves the department after six years, having initially joined as a press officer.

She currently reports to DTI head of news Aileen Boughen, and specialises in the areas of employment, consumer affairs, business trade and regions. At Soca, Lancaster effectively replaces Ray Tang - who was seconded into the role from the Home Office last March. He returned to the Home Office as assistant director of news last December.

Soca was formed from the merger of the National Crime Squad and the National Criminal Intelligence Service.

A Soca spokesman confirmed Lancaster's hire, but declined to comment further, saying: ‘We are trying to draw as little attention [to ourselves] as possible.'

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