Crime Operations

Crime Operations Department is the largest department within the Police Service of Northern Ireland, comprising specialist officers and staff. Headed by Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan, we are responsible for keeping people safe by investigating a range of offences across the crime spectrum and we utilise both overt and covert tactics to do so.

We work tirelessly to reduce the harm caused by organised crime gangs, violent extremists and bring to justice those who have committed serious offences in the past.

We are very much victim focused and ensure that through effective collaborative relationships with other statutory and voluntary organisations we can prevent sexual offending and protect local communities.

We use our specialist training and technology to proactively and reactively investigate the most serious and determined criminals that threaten our safety and security bringing them to justice and stripping them of their criminal assets.

Crime operations department comprises six specialist departments:

Criminal Investigations Branch

Criminal Investigations Branch consists of investigation teams based throughout Northern Ireland who investigate a vast spectrum of offences, both in response to crimes and also proactively.  These include drugs, firearms, violent crimes, financial crime, serious assaults, attempted murders and robberies. 

We aim to keep people safe by preventing harm to both individuals and communities, by increasing the capacity and resilience of neighbourhoods vulnerable to criminality, by reducing re-offending and by preventing crime.  We work with partners to detect offenders and strive to protect the most vulnerable by frustrating, disrupting and dismantling groups involved in criminal activity.

Serious Crime Branch

Serious Crime Branch responds to, resources, conducts and completes structured and professional investigations into homicide, kidnap incidents, terrorist related offences, intelligence led operations and other incidents of serious crime. We keep people safe by investigating the most serious crimes, major incidents and providing major crime forensic advice ensuring that every opportunity to identify and locate criminals is taken. We have detectives specialising in investigating Cybercrime, Terrorism and are dedicated to protecting some of the most vulnerable in society by targeting human trafficking, bringing the offenders to justice and ensuring the welfare of their victims.

Serious Crime Branch also holds responsibility for the deployment of Family Liaison Officers (FLOs) who provide initial and ongoing support and assistance to families bereaved by crime or road related deaths. Our specialist Hostage and Crisis negotiators are available 24hours a day and respond to all incidents in which someone is threatening to harm themselves or others. We work extremely hard to keep people safe across Northern Ireland and bring those who inflict pain, disruption and misery to justice.

Intelligence Branch

Intelligence branch is an integral part of Crime Operations Department and underpins many investigations that the PSNI conduct.  Intelligence is information, which is collected, assessed and disseminated to inform the policing response to keep people safe. Information provided through Intelligence Branch helps identify potential risk, threat and harm to our communities and can influence resource deployment and the design of our operational response. This helps enable our colleagues to do their jobs effectively and safely and works towards achieving our policing purpose of keeping people safe.

Intelligence has formed part of many police operations against Child Sexual Exploitation, cyber enabled crime, Human Trafficking, drugs, robbery, paramilitary activity and threats to public safety. We assist our colleagues across the PSNI with specialist knowledge and advice, enabling a professional and efficient response to all types of criminal activity. 

Specialist Operations Branch

Specialist Operations Branch (SOB) Keep People Safe by providing the PSNI with specialist command and assistance in complex investigations involving; serious crime, organised crime, volume crime and matters affecting National Security. The branch also provides specialist skills, support and knowledge to the PSNI and our partners.


Public Protection Branch

On 1 April 2015, the Public Protection Branch was formed as part of Crime Operations Department. As a result of this the Public Protection Units, Rape Crime Unit and the Child Internet Protection Team were brought together into a single branch. We now have overall responsibility for operational activity as well as policy and practice in relation to domestic abuse, child abuse, child sexual exploitation, sex and violent offender management, adult safeguarding, rape, child abuse imagery, e-safety and all associated control strategies.

We are also responsible for education and safeguarding within these areas and we work closely with several partner agencies, including the Health Trusts, Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland, other statutory organisations and charities such as Women’s Aid, Men’s Advisory Project, Rainbow, NSPCC, Nexus and others. Every day we are working with those agencies, organisations and charities to support and protect the vulnerable and build confidence in policing. On an almost daily basis, there are media headlines about domestic and sexual abuse, internet safety and the risks posed by those accessing images of child abuse, child abuse and child sexual exploitation. Officers within Public Protection Branch are committed to ensuring we detect those committing these crimes and bring them before the court.

If you have information which is causing harm to your community, you can speak to your local police person, telephone 101 or alternatively contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

 Crime Operations Support Branch

Crime Operations Support Branch assists in building a safe, confident and peaceful Northern Ireland by supporting Crime Operations Department in its investigations, intelligence gathering and operational deployments.

We will do this by providing expertise and assistance in areas such as Compliance, Analysis, Operational Security and Information Management. We also provide coordination on Cross-Departmental issues including planning, performance, risk and resource management and training.  


Related Links

Air Support Unit

Serious Crime Branch


Drug Production Facility

Drugs Find