Posts Tagged 'seizure'

In it for the money…

None for you, pimps! The lovely Proceeds of Crime Act enables us to seize back criminals’ ill-gotten gains and it’s the Payback Team that makes it all happen.

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!

And I can’t sail my yacht, he’s taken everything I’ve got…

A huge quantity of cash seized from a Mexican drug cartel – £129 million in total.

Seeing drug dealers rolling around in their ‘blinged’ out Range Rovers, wearing expensive fur coats and sporting gold teeth is pretty frustrating, no? Us law abiding citizens have always been told that crime doesn’t pay, so why does the shady chap living in the mansion across the road with no discernible source of legitimate income seem to be living the high life?

Well, we wondered this too and as a result were granted fantastic powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

The aim of the Act is to ensure that crime does not pay and that even if criminals have enjoyed a brief period in which they were able to benefit from their crimes, means that the police and courts are able to impose what can often be crushing penalties on those who have been profiting from a criminal lifestyle.

The Act itself gives officers extensive powers to tackle a whole range of different offences.

In the West Midlands Police we have dedicated ‘pay back’ teams whose sole purpose it is to ensure that when a rich criminal appears before the courts, they are successfully convicted and emerge from prison much worse off.

Particularly relevant to my role as a Response Officer are Parts 2 and 5 of the Act which grant powers to seize assets and cash.

Part 2 enables the courts to make a confiscation order against a criminal upon their conviction if it has been proven that they have been benefiting from a criminal lifestyle. This can come in the form or either a large bill for the criminal to pay or the seizure of assets from the criminal to the value of the benefit it is believed he or she obtained. In real terms this can mean a criminal’s prized collection of diamond encrusted rings appearing at an auction near you. Whether anyone would want them is another matter…

Part 5 gives us the ability to seize cash over the value of £1000 and apply to the courts to retain it if we feel that it is evidence of an offence or intended for use in unlawful conduct. Unlike the above power, to seize cash a conviction is not required making it easier for us to take the money away from the criminals.

Since its introduction the Proceeds of Crime Act has been invaluable in disrupting the activity of criminals and has generated many success stories around the country.

I myself was involved in a drugs warrant last year during which a large quantity of cash was seized and thanks to the pay back team successfully seized as its previous owner had been unable to prove that they had obtained it legitimately.

For other positive stories relating to the Act, please have a look at these examples from Suffolk’s Criminal Justice Board which include that of Nathaniel Leheup who found himself the best part of £120,000 poorer after being found guilty of handling stolen goods.

Crime most certainly doesn’t pay – just ask Mr. Leheup!

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