Criminals in Warwickshire have been made to pay back more than £750,000 during 2012/13, enabling victims to receive compensation.
The money has been secured by the Warwickshire Police Economic Crime Unit through the courts following detailed investigation into the financial means of convicted criminals.
Police financial investigators were granted 63 confiscation orders at crown court from April 2012 to March this year, resulting in a total of £513,954 being recovered. A further £268,875 was obtained through 10 cash forfeitures.
Confiscation orders resulted in £98,348 being paid in compensation to known victims.
Detective Inspector Mark Glazzard, head of the Economic Crime Unit for both Warwickshire and West Mercia Police, said: “The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) allows the police to pursue criminals through the courts to confiscate their ill-gotten gains.
“In Warwickshire, we have a successful record of recovering many thousands of pounds each year from convicted criminals.
“If someone has been convicted and the court decides they have a lifestyle funded by crime, it calculates the benefit from their criminal conduct and orders them to pay back a certain amount, even if it means they have to sell assets, including major items such as their car and home.
“They then have a specified period of time to comply with the order and pay back the money. Failure to do so automatically results in a prescribed and often lengthy further period in prison. And even then, the debt is not wiped off by the default prison sentence – it remains in place until the person has the means to pay.”
DI Glazzard said money was at the heart of all organised crime, especially when involving drugs. “The lifestyle and status it brings is the main motivation for most criminals. And just as legitimate businesses need funding to stay afloat, so does organised crime. Without cashflow, deals can’t be made and people can’t be paid. For both these reasons, many organised criminals fear attacks on their finances and lifestyle more than prison.
“We are working hard with our partner agencies such as the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts, to target criminals in any way we can, not just through prosecutions but by hitting them where it hurts – in their pockets.
“Most importantly, we have been able to compensate some victims through the confiscation process. Victims are central to our way of thinking so it is satisfying that our efforts go some way to relieve their distress.”
All monies confiscated under the POCA legislation are shared between the government which receives 50 percent, the courts service (12.5 per cent), the CPS and the police (18.75 per cent each).
DI Glazzard added that the legislation helped stifle criminal activity and sent a clear message to everyone that crime does not pay. “If you know someone who is benefiting from crime in any way, do call Warwickshire Police on 101, or alternatively, contact the anonymous Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.”