Criminals' Assets Put to good Use

Tuesday, 29 April, 2008

Police forces across England and Wales are to receive millions of pounds seized from criminals to help them fight crime.

The money was confiscated under the asset recovery scheme, which requires the Home Office to invest 50 per cent of all money seized back into front-line agencies.

A total of £34 million was recovered between October and December 2007, meaning that police, along with prosecutors, courts, and other public agencies, will share £17 million.

Seizing assets has been found to be an excellent anti-crime tool, taking away the reason people commit crimes in the first place. In 2007, the government reached its goal of recovering £125 million from criminals - five times more than the amount seized five years ago.

The programme has been so successful that police powers to seize assets are being expanded.

New powers to stop criminal gain include giving police the right to seize high-value goods from offenders when they are arrested, widening the kind of assets liable for seizure and removing the current 12 year time limit on seizures.

According to Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker, seizing criminals' assets sends a clear message to criminals that crime does not pay and that profiting from crime will not be tolerated.

"I am determined to stop criminals profiting from the crimes that affect the lives of the law-abiding majority" he said.

Mr Coaker is determined to see more assets being seized in the coming years. "I have committed to recovering £250 million a year by 2009-10" he explained.

Mick Creedon, of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), said "This is obviously excellent news, and performance across the police service continues to improve year on year. We have yet again improved the amount of cash seized.

"We must thank our partners in other agencies throughout the criminal justice process, as we continue to work closely with them at both a national and local level - this is a combined effort"

He added that police forces were working hard to improve their abilities to identify and seize criminal assets, while new guidelines for police working in the field were being produced.

"Proceeds of crime legislation is one of the key tools we can use to reduce crime" he said.

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