It’s the silly season for news (although with Trump and Brexit, it’s hard to tell the difference) so here’s my contribution. I was paging through the latest annual report from the National Crime Agency, released on 20 July, and I started reading about their success stories. Investigations these days – particularly multi-agency, complex ones – are given code-names: Operation This, Operation That. How do they pick these names, and what do they mean? Is there a big book of operation names, or does someone just make one up? And how do you make sure that you don’t choose a name that someone else has already used, perhaps in another police force?
This time round, the NCA report makes reference to Operation Stovewood, Operation Dragonroot, Operation Pallial, Operation Pumpless and Operation Jarra. Last year, there was also Operation Captura (which makes some sense), and the year before that we had Operation Seventy, Operation Voicer, Operation Massive (modest…) and Operation Return (again, that one I understand). And it’s not only the NCA that goes in for this: a very quick search of the Beeb news website reveals that the Met Police have been involved in Operations Grange, Sceptre, Falcon, Maxim and Big Wing, while their City of London colleagues enjoyed working on Operations Creative, Archway and Krypton.
If you’re an investigator, can you shed any light on it all? I remember reading once that the Wombles were named by sticking a pin in a map (Great-Uncle Bulgaria, Orinoco, Tobermory, Madame Cholet – you get the picture). And if you were going to head up a major money laundering investigation, what would you call it? Operation Persil? (Other detergents are available.)