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Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (PoCA)

Proceeds of Crime - CarsFind out more information on the Proceeds of Crime Act, including what happens to recovered money.

The largest benefit amount in a Staffordshire Police case is £25,402,412.53 stemming from a Fraud investigation, the largest Confiscation Order is £456,328.49 also stemming from a from a fraud investigation.

In 2015/16 Confiscation Orders obtained by Staffordshire Police amounted to £1,701,645.33.

Confiscation Orders

A Confiscation Order is the making of a monetary order against a person who has been convicted of a crime from which they have benefited financially.

An accredited Financial Investigator conducts an investigation and prepares a statement for court, this helps decide what "Benefit" (monetary value) has been obtained from the "Particular Criminal Conduct" and or their "Criminal Lifestyle" and what assets they have available with which to pay back their "benefit".

Example:

In December 2014 Police executed a search warrant under the Misuse of Drugs Act in Stoke on Trent. Drugs and cash totalling £39,352.60 were recovered from an individual. On 12th June 2015 he was charged with an offence of Money laundering, to which he later pleaded guilty at Stoke on Trent Crown Court. In April 2016 a Confiscation Hearing was held and a Confiscation Order was made, the value of the drugs was very small but the benefit was the large sum of money that was available and held by the police totalling £39,352.60. This money was immediately paid to Her Majesties Courts and Tribunal Service.

Confiscation for Compensation

This money is usually paid to the state and is redistributed to the Treasury with portions going back to the Courts and Law Enforcement Agencies to fight crime.

However in some cases where there are victims who have suffered financially as a direct result of the crime, for example in fraud and theft cases, then the funds are paid to them in Compensation.

Example:

A defendant was convicted on 23rd February 2016 of offences including obtaining property by deception and fraud over an eight year period. At the Confiscation Hearing in May 2016 the total sum obtained by deception / fraud was found to be £65,620 but when the change in value of money over the period using the "RPI" index was added the total benefit figure was declared as £68,873.18. The defendant was found to have assets consisting of funds in bank accounts and her home the value of which were in excess of this sum. She was subsequently ordered to pay £68,873.18 and this total sum was paid in compensation to the victims.

Revisits

On occasions the Defendant will have insufficient assets available to satisfy the entire benefit figure usually because they have spent their "ill gotten" gains on things that have deprecated in value such as cars or on things which could never be realised later such as holidays etc or in the case of low level drug dealers on feeding their own habit. However once the initial order is paid there is the opportunity to revisit the Original Order and seek further sums to be Confiscated up to the total value of the benefit at any point in the future if the defendant is found later to have assets.

Example:

Between 2006 and 2008 a criminal acted as a carer for an elderly man and during that time he signed a power of attorney allowing her access to and control of his financial affairs. The criminal then made unauthorised withdrawals totalling over £55,000 from his bank account. The individual was then convicted in September 2010 at Stoke on Trent Crown Court and was sentenced to three years imprisonment. At a Confiscation Hearing oin January 2011 the Court found that they had benefited from her particular criminal conduct in the sum of £55,000.00 and that she had equity in her house, a car and money in a Building Society savings account. A confiscation order was made in the total sum of the available amount, £19,524.46. This sum was paid within the time period set by the Court however the matter was "revisited" by Staffordshire Police Financial Investigators in 2016 and as a result it was discovered they still had her house which had now increased in value and she now had another car. An Uplift of the original Order was sought and in April 2016 a new Order was made against them, ordering her to pay the remainder of the sum taken from the victim, £35,475.54. This money has now been paid and the victim has been repaid in full.

Default Sentences

When the Court makes a Confiscation Order it will give the defendant up to 3 months to pay (previously six months but recently changed by new legislation). The Court will also set a "default sentence" to be served in the event of non-payment. The length of the default sentence is determined using a sliding scale dependent upon the value of the Order (recently changed by the new legislation). Even after serving the default sentence the defendant still has to pay the order if the defendant does not do so the Court has the power to impose further default sentences or to make an Order for their assets to be sold by the Crown.

Example:

A Confiscation Order was made against an individual in May 2014 following his conviction in December 2011 for blackmail. He was ordered to pay £22,536.04 within six months. He made no efforts to pay the Order and was summoned to appear at an Enforcement Court at Birmingham Magistrates Court. The individual gave the Court an assurance that he was in the process of selling a house he owned to pay the order and so was given further time to pay. He failed to sell the house or pay the Order within that time and was summoned back to Court but failed to attend. A bench warrant was issued and he was arrested on New Year's Eve, he remained in custody until into the New Year when he appeared before the Court. He continued to defy the Court and in April 2015 the Court imposed a six month default sentence. When he was released from prison no efforts were made to sell the house or make any payments towards the order so the Crown applied to have a management receiver appointed. The management receiver sought a possession order, took possession and marketed the property for sale. The individual then paid his order in full but without selling the house. As the benefit was greater than the available amount at the time of the order being made an uplift has been sought to recover the difference and the house, now sold subject to contract, will be sold and the proceeds after costs and redemption of the mortgage will then be applied to the outstanding Confiscation Order.

Cash Seizures

Proceeds of Crime - Cash

Cash of any amount can be seized under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 if it is evidence of a criminal offence, otherwise cash of £1,000 or more can be seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 if it is suspected to be derived from or intended for use in unlawful conduct.

Money seized under PoCA will either be subject of an application for further detention within 48 hrs or if the circumstances dictate financial investigators will immediately make an application for Forfeiture. These applications are made at the Magistrates Court and are subject to Civil Law with the lesser burden of proof applied "on the balance of probabilities" as opposed to the criminal standard of "beyond reasonable doubt".

The largest ever cash seizure and Forfeiture case presented by Staffordshire Police was on 27th September 2014 when a Ford Transit van was stopped on the M6 Motorway travelling South between Junctions 15 and 14.

Proceeds of Crime - Van

In a concealed compartment officers discovered four carrier bags full of cash. The cash was believed to be derived from drug trafficking.

Following an investigation by the Financial Investigation Unit the driver was convicted of money laundering, given a 2 Year custodial sentence and a Confiscation Order was made in the sum of £12,000. The seized cash, £400,082.63 in total, was subject of a Cash forfeiture application and was Forfeited by Cannock Magistrates Court on 12th January 2016.

A similar seizure occurred in January 2016 when Staffordshire Police officers had cause to stop a Volvo motor vehicle travelling Northbound on the M6 motorway between junctions 13 and 14. On this occasion £35,973.00 was seized and an application for detention was made. The subsequent investigation revealed that this money was probably derived from drug trafficking and was forfeited by Cannock Magistrates Court on 12th July 2016.

 

What Happens to the Money?

The Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner is responsible for how the money is distributed once it has been dealt with by the Court.

The People Power Fund is for Grants between £100 and £3,000 for small community groups.

The Proceeds of Crimes fund is specifically for Strategic Partners for amounts between £3,000 and £15,000. Applications are made each year and are passed to the OPCC for a decision. The form, guidance etc. can be found by clicking here.

Here are a few examples of projects that have been funded in the past:

  • Keep your Business in Business: £10,000 - A business crime initiative to produce 5000 crime prevention, cyber-crime awareness, and fire safety DVD's or memory sticks for distribution to new and existing businesses across Staffordshire.
  • Horse Watch: £4,550 - A project which seeks to recruit, train and equip 2 volunteers to assist in the marking of equipment as a crime prevention measure for rural communities.
  • Boys to Men Domestic Violence Project: £15,000 - A project which supports in the delivery of a production working with young people to explore attitudes towards relationships, specifically domestic abuse
  • Safer Nights Taxi Marshall Scheme: £6,480 - Taxi Marshalls provide a highly visible customer service focused on preventing violence, crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour. They maintain order while people leave the town centre at night.