In it for the money…Published 16/02/2013 West Midlands Police 2 Comments
Tags: police, social media, blog, police constable, police officer, walsall, west midlands, response, crime, front line, arrest, twitter, burglary, Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, seizure, criminal lifestyle, warrant, @walsallpolice, theft, birmingham, @wmpolice, Crown Prosecution Service, cars, Home Office, POCA, bling, Payback Team, confiscation order, Bentley, BMW, Lamborghini, asset, benefit figure
Pimps. Things they like: Big hats, diamond encrusted canes, fur coats, monster trucks, rubies.
Things they don’t like: The Proceeds of Crime Act and the good people at the West Midlands Police Force Payback Team.
Yes, there are few things little criminals like less than being told by a wig-wearing judge that they now owe several hundred thousand pounds following a calculation of a ‘benefit figure’ indicating ‘this is is what we reckon you’ve made from crime and so this is the amount we want back’.
I’ve written about the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 before, focusing on the legal side of what we can and can’t do when we’re looking to seize a drug dealer’s pet tiger from their rear garden in Goscote.
As for who are the people who makes the POCA wheels turn, allows me to introduce the Force Payback Team who are a specialist group of officers and support staff dedicated to ensuring that crime does not pay.
Working as part of a centrally based team, the Force Payback Team tend to become involved when as part of their investigations, officers out on the street come across people living the kind of lifestyles that their benefits payments probably wouldn’t cover.
Cash over a certain value can be seized and forfeited by the courts regardless of whether they are accompanied by a criminal prosecution.
The Force Payback Team can also apply for confiscation orders through the courts following a criminal conviction and includes a calculation as to how much someone has profited from their illegitimate pursuits.
Should the criminals ignore orders made against them, they can be sent to prison for up to 10 years and still have to pay the money back. If not paid the courts can get receivers in to gather up all the Bugattis, cash, houses and anything else of value and haul them off to sell.
So far this financial year the Force Payback Team have been responsible for recovering over £3 million in cash and nearly £2.5 million in assets.
Of the recovered bounty, 50% is returned to the force and 50% finds its way to the Home Office whilst for assets, the force receives 18.5% of the total reflecting the work and greater number of agencies involved in recovering assets.
So then, we’ve done the hard work and one day an anonymous civil servant from the Home Office turns up at Force HQ with a suitcase of cash. What are we going to do with it? Where does it go?
Well, whilst I have had my eye on those voice activated Apple iHandcuffs with the built-in wifi, the true benefit of the cash is really in enabling us to reinvest in some very important community projects.
Local examples of where POCA cash has ended up include a £750 to the Sea Cadets and funding Walsall’s futuristic Cyberbus which floats around the LPU addressing ASB issues.
Many of the successful seizures to have come from the Payback Team’s work will have started off with a phone call from a member of the public to their local officers suggesting that someone on their street seems to be managing the income from their paper round remarkably well as they’ve just picked up a new BMW.
As such if you suspect that someone’s income isn’t entirely legitimate, please give us a call on 101 or approach Crimestoppers anonymously.
Criminals only stand to lose and the community stands to gain – this is the way things should be!