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Director of Public Prosecutions highlights how more money could be returned to victims of crime

|News, Fraud and economic crime

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Max Hill QC, has today supported the review into legislation to ensure more money can be returned to victims of crime.

Giving evidence at the House of Lords Fraud Act 2006 and Digital Fraud Select Committee earlier today, the Director highlighted the limitations of the current compensation legislation, and recommended the government consider court powers to reimburse victims with any additional funds that are recovered.  

A Confiscation Order identifies the amount a criminal financially benefited from their crime and orders the defendant to repay this figure, or part of it if they do not have the means to pay the full amount.

If they are not ordered to pay the full amount, current legislation gives the power to increase a Confiscation Order if a criminal is later found to have additional money or assets. However, there is no equivalent power to increase Compensation Orders, which give money back to victims.

This means any additional funds recovered through an increased Confiscation Order cannot be used to further compensate those who have lost out financially to criminal activity.

Max Hill QC, the Director of Public Prosecutions, said:

“Victims of fraud can lose their life savings at the hands of ruthless criminals.

“It is right that as much money as possible should be returned to victims of crime but I am concerned current legislation means in some cases we do not have the power to do this.

“One of the most significant tools we have to disrupt and deter organised crime is the ability to recover the proceeds criminals gain through their illicit activity. 

“We will pursue every last penny and would like to do more to help fraud victims get as much of their money back as quickly as possible.”

The Director of Public Prosecutions also welcomed the Law Commission’s Options Paper on Corporate Criminal Liability reform and said expanding the existing ‘failure to prevent’ model to fraud offences would enable prosecutors to hold corporate entities and individuals to account more effectively where these crimes are committed.

He added that current ‘failure to prevent’ offences are an important tool for prosecutors and that reforms would enhance public confidence in the Criminal Justice System, as it would be better able to hold to account those involved in corporate wrongdoing.  

Max Hill QC, continued:

“The CPS is in full support of any reform of Corporate Criminal Liability that would help prevent crime and pursue criminals. These changes would give us more power to hold businesses and individuals to account and bring them to justice.”

The Director of Public Prosecutions also updated on the progress the CPS has made on its Economic Crime strategy, including:

  • 5,407 prosecutions for Fraud and Forgery as the principal offence between April and December 2021.
  • Recovering £568million in the last five years and returning £126million of this to victims of crime.
  • Establishing the Serious Economic Organised Crime International Directorate (SEOCID) as a response to the changing nature of complex crime.

Notes to editors

  • The full committee hearing can be viewed here.
  • In April 2022, the CPS merged specialists in economic crime, organised crime, proceeds of crime and international teams under the new Serious Economic Organised Crime International Directorate (SEOCID). This change ensures we maximise expertise in the face of increasingly complex crimes and mirrors the shift in how criminals operate.
  • The CPS Economic Crime strategy was launched in April 2021.

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