The threat from serious crime

Last Updated: 02 Dec 2015
We help to protect the UK from some of the most dangerous criminals, discovering who these criminals are, where they are and how they operate.

We work closely with the National Crime Agency (NCA), Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and other government departments on a wide range of high-priority topics:

  • Cyber crime
  • Child sexual exploitation; ongoing efforts have been bolstered by the establishment of a joint NCA-GCHQ cell in April 2015
  • Organised immigration crime, including people trafficking
  • Money laundering
  • Financial crime
  • Drugs smuggling

We also advise on the protection of electronic networks. For example, understanding the specific capabilities of cybercriminals enables us to suggest appropriate security responses.

We are keen to recruit people with a range of skills who want to keep the UK safe from criminals. Please check for current vacancies on our careers website.



Two GCHQ members of staff working in Serious Crime talk about their work.

Linguist, Drugs Team - Maria's story

After a few years of working as a linguist in another area of GCHQ, in 2012 I had the chance to transfer in to the drugs team within Serious Crime. I had done some work in the past in support of serious crime operations, and so I jumped at the chance to work in such a fast paced area. The work really can be action-packed, even from our desks in Cheltenham- from kidnapped drugs dealers to cars laden with heroin, there’s rarely a dull moment!

The nature of the work and our close collaboration with other agencies (in particular the National Crime Agency) creates a real sense of teamwork, and colleagues are always willing to help when things get tough.

Given the range of criminals that we track, I am kept very busy in my role as a linguist. New technologies mean I need to constantly update my knowledge, as well as keeping my language skills up to date. GCHQ provides regular training across a range of areas to ensure that we stay one step ahead of the criminals.

While it may be a cliché, I really feel like I am able to make a difference in this job. Since working in Serious Crime I never get the Sunday night feeling of dread about the week ahead. Knowing that I work in a team that is keeping illegal drugs off the streets of Britain gives me a real sense of achievement, so I’m often keen to get to work on a Monday morning!

Analyst, Financial Crime Team - Ali's story

A great thing about working for GCHQ is that it is a place of opportunity; I joined the department with a financial background, and spent several years in the finance team ensuring that we were spending tax payers’ money wisely. After a time I wanted a new challenge, and it seemed a logical step to move into the Financial Crime team as an analyst- I am still protecting the public purse, but now by supporting UK Law Enforcement operations against fraudsters, saving the British taxpayer potentially billions of pounds a year.

Despite some similarities with my previous role, becoming a GCHQ analyst has required learning a whole range of new skills, and my team have been very supportive in making sure that I have everything I need to do my job. The reports I produce on the criminal activities of those committing fraud have already been used to support law enforcement operations.

Another crucial element of the training for new analysts is learning about the legal framework that GCHQ operates under. All staff undergo regular legalities training, but those of us working as analysts require a more in-depth knowledge of what GCHQ can and cannot do. These constraints inform every action I take as an analyst, and the training has given me the confidence that what I am doing is legal and is helping to protect taxpayer’s money.

I now have the basics under my belt, and although I know I have a long way to go before I can call myself an experienced analyst, I enjoy learning new things and the knowledge that with my new skills I’m making a difference to the UK.