CPS Proceeds of Crime Strategy 2025
- CPS 2025 Aims and Outcomes
- CPS Proceeds of Crime Strategy and Aims
- The context in which we operate
- Cross Whitehall engagement and partnership working
- Restraint, confiscation, and compensation
- Enforcement and reconsideration work
- International work
- Civil Recovery
For the overarching CPS 2025 Aims and Outcomes, please see the CPS 2025 Strategy.
We will adopt a robust, targeted approach to recovering the proceeds of crime, depriving criminals of their ill-gotten gains.
CPS Proceeds of Crime 2025 Aims:
|Our People||Digital Capability||Strategic Partnerships||Casework Quality||Public Confidence|
|Our people have the tools and skills they need to conduct increasingly complex Asset Recovery cases in criminal and civil courts.||Digital tools are maximised for case management, preparation, and presentation in Asset Recovery cases.||CPS POC operational insights are used by partners to improve the recovery of the proceeds of crime nationally and internationally.||Our specialist skills and experience aid the recovery of the proceeds of crime, locally, regionally and internationally.||Our expertise supports HMCTS in the recovery of complex CPS Confiscation Orders.|
CPS Proceeds of Crime 2025 outcomes:
|Our People||Digital Capability||Strategic Partnerships||Casework Quality||Public Confidence|
The CPS 2025 Vision places the CPS as a leading voice in transforming the criminal justice system, using our legal expertise and digital capability to make the public safer and to build the confidence of our diverse communities. Our mission statement is to deliver justice through independent and fair prosecutions.
This strategy sets out how the CPS will focus its resources and structures to contribute to our vision in relation to asset recovery. We will adopt a robust, targeted approach to recovering the proceeds of crime, depriving criminals of their ill-gotten gains.
CPS Areas and Central Casework Divisions have responsibility for the review and conduct of prosecutions. The Code for Crown Prosecutors requires that charges and acceptability of pleas are selected to allow confiscation and ancillary orders in appropriate cases.
The CPS Proceeds of Crime Division (CPS POC) is a specialist national division. CPS POC’s role is to conduct domestic and international asset recovery work and to do so in conjunction with our partners within the CJS and across Government and to ensure that the UK meets its international obligations.
CPS POC works closely with the CPS Areas and Central Casework Divisions, particularly those within the Serious Economic, Organised Crime and International Directorate (SEOCID) including liaising on our international casework, through the CPS Liaison Prosecutors and Criminal Justice Advisors overseas.
The CPS works with a wide range of stakeholders in law enforcement, across Whitehall and with international asset recovery communities. Building strong partnerships – at local, national and international levels – is a priority which underpins our entire strategy. We do not operate in a vacuum. We rely on the police (and other law enforcement agencies), the external Bar, the courts and need strong partnerships across government and the private sector. It is only together that we can build a criminal justice system fit for the future.
We want these relationships to be defined by transparency as we each share our expertise and help to shape the legal and policy framework together. Our commitment is to collaborate across the criminal justice system in respect of the recovery of the proceeds of crime, to continuously improve the end-to-end service we deliver, making sure it is fair and understood by all. We know that crime will have an increasingly international dimension in the years ahead, and we will need to work creatively with partners around the globe to continue delivering justice across borders.
We support the Government’s Serious and Organised Crime Strategy which aims to “protect our citizens and our prosperity by leaving no safe space for serious and organised criminals to operate against us within the UK, overseas, online and offline”. Its strategy on asset recovery, which aims to deny “the highest harm networks the ability to hide, move or use their profits” and also recognises that asset recovery can lead to compensation for victims of crime. The Home Office has published an Asset Recovery Action Plan and an Economic Crime Plan, which support this strategy.
The CPS will carry out its role by restraining the assets of those suspected of benefiting from their criminality, confiscating those assets once they have been convicted and ensuring that confiscation orders are robustly enforced where we can use our expertise as specialised prosecutors to do so. Where we can use our civil powers to achieve “non-conviction based” asset recovery we will do so.
The CPS is committed to applying for compensation for victims where appropriate. In some cases, money from confiscation orders may be used to pay compensation to victims where there is an accompanying compensation order.
The CPS will generally pursue the recovery of the proceeds of crime from all offenders, whether connected to serious organised crime, serious economic crime or lower-level criminality.
Criminals are motivated by profit and the proceeds of crime are often reinvested in further criminal activities. Asset recovery is therefore a key element in the fight against crime and helps to protect the public from the harm it causes.
At the heart of this strategy is CPS Proceeds of Crime Division (CPS POC), a separate casework Division within the Serious Economic, Organised Crime and International Directorate (SEOCID), which provides a specialist service to the CPS Areas and other Divisions. With specialist lawyers and operational delivery staff. CPS POC provides a key resource across law enforcement and the criminal justice system.
There are five areas in which CPS POC contributes:
Cross Whitehall engagement
The CPS remains committed to working closely with partners across Government and CJS agencies towards common asset recovery goals at strategic, policy and operational levels; both domestically and internationally. In particular, the CPS is committed to working closely with partners to assist with the changes brought about by the UK’s exit from the EU relating to the proceeds of crime.
The Economic Crime Strategic Board (“ECSB”), jointly chaired by the Home Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer (and attended by the Director of Public Prosecutions), is tasked with setting strategic priorities, ensuring resources are aligned to those priorities and holding people to account for delivery. The ECSB is supported by the cross-Whitehall Economic Crime Delivery Board (“ECDB”), which is chaired by the Permanent Secretaries of the Home Office and the Treasury. The CPS is represented on this Board at a senior level.
The CPS, through the Chief Crown Prosecutor of CPS POC, is a key member of the cross-Whitehall Strategic Asset Recovery Group (SARG). The SARG reports into the ECDB and is focussed on operational asset recovery performance and inter-agency coordination. CPS POC is also committed to removing any barriers to performance improvement by playing an active role in influencing Policy and new legislation in this field.
CPS POC will continue to work with the Home Office, which is responsible for the domestic proceeds of crime legislation, and other agencies, to identify ways in which asset recovery legislation can be improved and to make the case for any legislative change where we think it is necessary. This may include, for example, being involved in Law Commission reviews.
CPS POC enjoys close working relationships with police, NCA, HMRC, DWP and other investigators and has co- located offices in many places to provide an integrated approach to asset recovery.
CPS POC will continue to play a key role within the National Financial Investigators’ Working Group, the Civil Recovery Practitioners’ Group, the National Multi-Agency Enforcement Group, the Whitehall Prosecutors POC Group and other key fora to ensure that CPS are well represented and at the forefront of operational partnerships.
CPS POC regularly meets with specialist proceeds of crime counterparts from across the United Kingdom: the PPSNI in Northern Ireland, the COPFS in Scotland and the Serious Fraud Office.
Confiscation Orders are made against an offender based upon their total criminal benefit and the value of the assets that they have available to pay such an order at the time it is made. It remains their responsibility to pay until the order is fully paid (including any interest if there is a delay in making payments).
CPS POC will provide early advice to law enforcement on financial investigations including advice on asset recovery strategy and on the appropriateness of seeking the restraint of assets. A restraint application may be made at any time following the commencement of a criminal investigation and at any stage of the criminal proceedings. If there is a risk of dissipation of the defendant’s assets, trained specialists within CPS POC will work with law enforcement to make timely restraint applications. This includes joint working with international colleagues when assets are located abroad, or where evidence is required from another jurisdiction.
CPS Areas and Central Casework Divisions have responsibility for the review and conduct of prosecutions. The Code for Crown Prosecutors requires that charges are selected, and appropriate pleas taken to allow confiscation and appropriate ancillary orders to be made.
When advising on charging in appropriate acquisitive crime and drugs offences, prosecutors across the CPS will ensure that there is an asset recovery strategy in place. They will select charges which allow Confiscation and or Compensation Orders to be made in appropriate cases.
Where a conviction has been obtained in these cases and a timetable set for confiscation proceedings, CPS POC prosecutors will apply the principles set out in the DPP’s “Guidance for Prosecutors on the Discretion to Instigate Confiscation Proceedings” and the AG’s guidance issued under section 2A of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 in taking forwards criminal asset recovery.
When a victim has suffered loss, the court may order compensation to be paid by the offender and the CPS will invite the court to make a Compensation Order when appropriate. When a Confiscation Order is made, the law allows for compensation to take priority over confiscation.
CPS POC will continue to work closely with CPS Areas and Divisions to ensure all prosecutors have access to up to date legal resources, training and guidance. CPS POC has created a network of contacts with Area POC Champions which will meet regularly to share best practice.
The CPS intranet contains Hubs for Areas and Divisions as an internal resource for information and tools to enable staff to do their work. CPS POC will ensure that the Proceeds of Crime Hub is the single point of access for legal guidance, standard operational practice and other supporting information and documents. This will include bilateral agreements within the CPS and other agencies, templates, and other useful material. This will be kept under constant review and be updated when required.
When a Confiscation Order is made, it creates a debt owed by the offender to HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). HMCTS is the enforcement agency and is responsible for collecting the debt owed by the offender. In law, a Confiscation Order is treated in the same way as a fine. However, CPS POC assists HMCTS in CPS obtained confiscation cases that require specialist prosecutor input to use statutory enforcement tools. The criteria for determining when such assistance is provided is set out in a service level agreement between the CPS and HMCTS. CPS POC will ordinarily assist HMCTS with the enforcement where the powers available to a prosecutor will be needed to enforce a confiscation order, such as those involving restraint orders, where a receiver is required or where assets are in overseas jurisdictions. Once all prosecutorial steps have been taken the CPS role ends, and the case is remitted back to HMCTS.
Within CPS POC there is a specialist National Enforcement Unit, which deals only with enforcement matters.
The use of enforcement receivers
CPS POC uses enforcement receivers as part of its enforcement strategy in appropriate cases. By targeting the use of private sector specialist skills where they add value, CPS POC ensures that effective enforcement steps can be taken in all cases it holds responsibility for. This is a good example of where the CPS, as a public body, seeks private sector expertise to get the best value out of criminals’ assets to benefit victims and the public.
In most cases, a Confiscation Order is limited to the value of the known assets of the offender. This means that some offenders are not ordered to pay the full value of their criminal benefit (in some cases only a nominal £1 order is made). The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 allows this position to be reconsidered by the court if new assets (or benefit) are identified at a later date, then a further order may be made.
Within CPS POC there is a specialist unit which deals only with reconsideration matters. The partnership between the CPS and law enforcement in respect of reconsideration work has resulted in the recovery of substantial criminal proceeds which would otherwise have been retained by criminals.
The CPS International Strategy highlights that the “increasingly international nature of crime presents challenges to all those involved in criminal justice…Over the last decade the CPS has become a significant player, with influence and credibility, on international criminal justice and national security matters.” CPS POC is committed to its role within the CPS International Strategy and deploys its capability and experience in the international arena to bear down upon criminals seeking either to hide their assets abroad or those offending in other jurisdictions seeking to conceal or enjoy their ill-gotten gains within England and Wales.
CPS POC international liaison programme
CPS POC has established an ongoing programme of Video Telephone Conferences (VTC) in which prosecutors with expert knowledge of asset recovery have regular meetings with their counterparts in other jurisdictions. This programme has led to increased understanding and improved communication with over 15 jurisdictions, feeding into more effective working relationships.
Our international treaty obligations
The transnational nature of serious and organised crime means that other jurisdictions need the assistance of the CPS in pursuing asset recovery when assets have been moved into or are located in England or Wales. The UK and our international partners are obliged to fulfil treaty obligations between countries. CPS POC will continue to deal with all incoming requests for asset recovery action directed to the CPS either by direct transmission or by the UK Central Authority and will provide all such assistance as can be extended to ensure that the fullest possible cooperation is provided to our international partners.
These actions combine to increase the amount of assets the CPS can recover from and for other jurisdictions. CPS POC is committed to working with other jurisdictions to combat global crime through asset recovery opportunities where possible including the United Nations Convention Against Corruption.
The CCP of CPS POC will continue to participate as a CARIN Steering Group member, providing international asset recovery leadership and expertise to prosecutorial, judicial and law enforcement contacts in an informal network of 171 jurisdictions.
International Proceeds of Crime Group
The CPS chairs and leads an operational International Proceeds of Crime Group. The Group has a range of law enforcement and prosecution agencies as members. Its role is to deliver actions to improve coherence in international coordination across relevant agencies, make better use of international tools and capabilities, collect and analyse performance data and have an oversight of the system and activity.
CPS POC has now set up a Civil Recovery Team that uses the Director of Public Prosecutions’ civil powers to carry out “non-conviction based” asset recovery. The team engages with the Civil Recovery Financial Investigators that are housed within the police Regional Asset Recovery Teams and Regional Organised Crime Units, to identifying and progress civil recovery casework, making applications to the High Court as necessary.
The CRU is also able to assist police forces with their Asset Freezing and Forfeiture Orders when the DPP is formally invited to do so.
In the 5 years between 2016 and 2021, over £565 million was recovered from criminals through CPS obtained Confiscation Orders, ensuring that they could not profit from their offending and preventing them from reinvesting that money into other offending. £124m of that amount has been returned to victims of crime, by way of compensation.