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Criminal cash boosts community projects

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: April 24, 2014

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MORE than £1 million was stripped from criminals in Derbyshire during the past year as part of a wide-ranging crackdown on crime.

Derbyshire Police revealed that between April 1, 2013, and the end of March this year almost £20,000 per week in cash and other assets was removed from offenders under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

As a result, a range of community schemes have been boosted in South Derbyshire, from the support of football projects to funding for groups that help women in distress across the district.

Detective Inspector Rob King, from the East Midlands fraud and financial investigation unit, said: “Every week tens of thousands of pounds are being removed from criminals.

“Some of this money comes back into South Derbyshire and is used in the continued fight against crime and those profiting from criminal activity.

“Our message to offenders is clear – crime does not pay. We will pursue you through the criminal courts and any assets you may have will be stripped from you.”

The POCA gives police and other investigating agencies the power to take criminals to court to recover the wealth people have made by committing crimes such as drug dealing or selling stolen property.

The act allows police to confiscate money from people at the crown court if they have been convicted of a criminal offence. Cash suspected of coming from crime, or for use in crime, can also be forfeited during a civil hearing at a magistrates’ court.

The latest figures released by Derbyshire Police show that assets totalling £870,027 were confiscated at crown court in 57 separate cases under the act.

During the same period, £131,223 was reclaimed by magistrates in 44 separate hearings.

The biggest confiscation order over the last year involved a couple who ran cannabis farms in Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and the West Midlands, who were ordered to pay back more than £450,000.

Money confiscated by the crown court is shared between a central Home Office fund, the Crown Prosecution Service, the court services and the investigating agency, such as the police or trading standards. Cash reclaimed by magistrates is split between the Government and the investigating agency.

Money has also been spent on extra training and equipment for officers investigating this type of crime.

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