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Meg Munn MP - Sheffield Heeley's voice in Parliament | Welcome
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MP applauds new powers to confiscate criminal assets - Making sure crime doesn’t pay

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

A new incentive scheme announced today by the Home Office allowing police forces to benefit from a greater share of the criminal assets they recover has been warmly welcomed by Meg Munn MP

Designed to motivate police to seize, confiscate and recover even more criminally acquired wealth, the scheme rewards forces by giving them a stake in the assets they claw back from criminals. Police will receive a third of all recovered assets above £40 million next year, increasing to 50% in 2005/06.

Figures from the first year of the assets recovery agency show the following sums have been seized in 2003 (by police authority area):

North Yorkshire                 £58,140

West Yorkshire                   £806,354

Humberside                         £51,882

South Yorkshire                 £290, 648

Meg said:

"This Labour Government is determined to make sure that crime does not pay.  Crime is going down in Sheffield and this new scheme is about making sure criminals don’t keep the proceeds of their crimes. We are denying criminals the financial benefit of their illegal and harmful activity.  Why should they enjoy champagne lifestyles paid for with money made at the expense of victims of crime?

"After just one year criminals are feeling the pain of having their assets frozen, seized and confiscated on a greater scale than ever before: £55 million suspect cash seized; £37.6 million criminals' cash confiscated; and £18.9 million the subject of freezing and interim orders in the courts.

"Most criminals are motivated by money.  They traffic in drugs, illegal immigrants and contraband goods in order to make money.  Taking the profit out of crime takes away the motive as well as removing the dirty capital that would have been re-invested in criminal enterprises. 

"The Labour Government, in partnership with law enforcement agencies, and once up and running the new Serious and Organised Crime Agency, is sending out the strongest signal that crime doesn't pay."

The Home Office also announced a halving of the cash seizure threshold from £10,000 to £5,000, allowing police and customs officers to seize suspect cash stashes of not less than £5,000. 

Home Office Minister Caroline Flint, said:

"One year on, the tough powers in the Proceeds of Crime Act are hitting criminals where it hurts - in their pockets.  Law enforcement agencies are using the new tools to strip criminals of their assets with great success. Now is the time to spur police on to achieve even greater success by giving them a stake in the assets they take back from criminals.

"Hard cash remains the currency of choice for criminals even though the cash seizure powers are making a real impact  - police and customs officers are seizing around £1 million a week in suspect cash.  Criminals are now responding by carrying cash in sums of less than £10,000.  We need to be just as flexible and responsive if we are to stay ahead of the criminals. That is why the seizure threshold is being lowered from £10,000 to £5,000.

"We have also committed up to £12 million of recovered assets a year for the next three years to set up four new multi-agency Regional Asset Recovery Teams.  These police-led teams, dedicated to taking the profit out of crime will boost the drive to deprive criminals of their illegally acquired wealth."

The bulk of the powers contained in the Proceeds of Crime Act came into force a year ago today.  Already the tough new powers to take the profit out of crime are beginning to bite:

£55 million in suspect cash has been seized by police and customs officers since December 2002;

£37.6 million has been confiscated over the last year - under both old legislation and the newer Proceeds of Crime Act powers; and the Assets Recovery Agency has twenty civil recovery cases subject to interim and freezing orders to the value of £12.7 million; and an additional £6.2 million is the subject of restraint orders in the criminal courts.

 


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