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NEW POLICE SCHEME TO KEEP CRIMINAL PROCEEDS

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Police forces will benefit from a greater share of the criminal ...
Police forces will benefit from a greater share of the criminal

assets they recover under a new incentive scheme announced today by

Home Office minister Caroline Flint.

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 clawed back from criminals. Police will

receive a third of all recovered assets above£40m next year,

increasing to 50% in 2005/06.

Ms Flint 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.

Ms 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 taken 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£1m 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 cash seizure

threshold is being lowered from£10,000 to£5,000.

'We have also committed up to£12m 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 t o take

the profit out of crime are beginning to bite:

*£55m in suspect cash has been seized by police and customs

officers since December 2002

*£37.6m has been confiscated over the last year - under both

old legislation and the newer Proceeds of Crime Act powers

* the Assets Recovery Agency has twenty civil recovery cases subject

to interim and freezing orders to the value of£12.7m

* an additional£6.2m is the subject of restraint orders in

the criminal courts

Ms Flint added:

'The government is determined to make sure that crime does not pay.

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:£55m suspect cash seized;£37.6m criminals'

cash confiscated; and£18.9m 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 government, in partnership with law enforcement agencies, and

once up and running the new Serious Organised Crime Agency, is

sending out the strongest signal that crime doesn't pay.'

Notes

1. The incentive scheme for the police service will realise a third

of all recovered assets over£40m for 2004/05 rising to half

of all recovered assets above£40m in 2005/06. The scheme

will then be evaluated. The scheme applies to all police forces in

England and Wales, the National Crime Squad, the British Transport

Police and the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

2. The police incentive scheme is in addition to the£22.5m a

year for the three years to 2005/06 from recovered assets already

committed to communities and front-line agencies. This money

includes the funding for the Regional Asset Recovery Teams.

3. The new Regional Asset Recovery Teams will be located in the North

West, the North East, London and Wales.

4. The cash search and seizure powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act

came into force on 30 December 2002.

5. The Assets Recovery Agency and the money laundering laws came into

force on 24 February 2003.

6. The criminal confiscation powers and the criminal lifestyle test

came into force on 24 March 2003.

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