Criminals In West Mercia Made To Pay Back £2 million

05/08/2011

West Mercia Police and its partners have taken back more than £2 million from criminals and returned more than a quarter of a million to victims of crime in the last financial year.

In the year 2010-11, £1,887,722 was taken from convicted criminals through Confiscation Orders, while £139,728 was seized in Cash Forfeitures. This was part of the Pay Back scheme, which sees the police, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and Her Majesty's Court Service working together to use the powers given to them under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Confiscation proceedings are used to deprive criminals of the financial benefit that they have obtained from criminal conduct. 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 this means they have to sell their assets, including major items such as cars and houses.

Cash Forfeitures are where police may seize an amount of cash if they have reasonable grounds for suspecting that it is due to criminal activity and those in possession of the cash do not have a legitimate explanation for having it.
Cases in 2010-11 include:

  • Five conmen from Ludlow who defrauded people of almost £2 million in 2003 and 2004 (and later received jail sentences totalling more than 15 years), were stripped of more than £982,000 of their assets.
  •  A convicted drug dealer from Bromsgrove was ordered to hand over assets of nearly £9,500 after a Confiscation Order was obtained in September, 2010.
  •  In January, working on behalf of colleagues at Worcestershire Trading Standards, West Mercia Police confiscated more than £130,000 from a Worcester businessman who was selling illegal games consoles chips.
    Stuart Duddell, Supervisor of the Assets Recovery Unit at West Mercia Police, said: "I want to reassure local people that we will use all the powers given to us by proceeds of crime legislation to stop criminals benefiting from their activities.

"We are working hard and working closely with our partner agencies to target criminals in any way we can, not just through prosecutions but by targeting them where it hurts, in their pockets.

"Most importantly we have been able to compensate some victims through the confiscation arena. We are pleased that we can do something to tip the balance back in favour of victims of crime; they are central to our thinking.  It is satisfying that our efforts go some way to relieve their distress of having been a victim of crime."

Max Bennett, CPS District Crown Prosecutor (for the West Midlands, Southern Sector, which covers Herefordshire, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin and Worcestershire) said: "The CPS has worked closely with West Mercia Police to seize the assets of criminals who have financially benefited from their crimes, so that these monies can be returned to victims and the community.

"We are delighted with the great success over the last 12 months, and with our criminal justice colleagues will continue the fight to make criminals pay back'."