West Midlands Proceeds of Crime Unit are hitting criminals where it hurts – their wallets


In January 2013 the West Midlands CPS Proceeds of Crime Unit (POCU), as part of a major initiative involving Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and West Mercia police forces, commenced a general review of historic Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation orders.

The purpose was to identify cases where a defendant had been found to have benefitted from their criminal conduct but which at the time the order was made, no or limited assets were owned to repay the benefit. 

On establishing such cases the police would identify any assets (legitimate or not) that had been gained since the order was made and POCU would, in appropriate cases, restrain those assets and apply to the Court - using the Proceeds of Crime Act legislation - to ask the Court to order that their value be paid toward the outstanding confiscation order.

James Francis, Senior Crown Prosecutor in the POCU said:
"Since January 2013, concluded cases brought about by this initiative have realised £150,000 and cases that have yet to be concluded concern identified assets that amount to over £175,000.

"In March 2006 Mark Bale was found to have benefitted £78,210 from his involvement in a conspiracy to steal cash from ATM machines. At the time the confiscation order was made, his only identified asset was £1,608.43 in a bank account. The Court made a confiscation order in this amount and that amount was paid. This left £76,601.57 of benefit that had not been paid.

"In 2013 the Financial Investigator discovered that Mr Bale purchased a £430,000 property and held £130,000 equity in it. It was also established that he held vehicles and cash which in total was more than sufficient to meet the benefit from his crime.

"In February 2013 the West Midlands POCU brought Mr Bale before Warwick Crown Court whereon the Court ordered that he pay £76,601.57 within 6 months or face 21 months imprisonment.

"Those who have benefited from crime face the prospect of being punished for the crime itself and having the money and property they have acquired through criminal activities taken back from them. This initiative demonstrates that those who benefit from criminal enterprise will never escape the requirement to repay that benefit back to the state.

"The success of this unit is down to the hard work and dedication of every one working on the unit and through better co-operation with our four force Areas.

"Crime does not pay and wherever possible we will ensure any ill-gotten gains are stripped from those individuals and put back into society."