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Hampshire Police have seized £3.3million in cash and assets during the past 12 months almost doubling the amount claimed back the previous year using the Proceeds of Crime Act.
It marks the force’s most successful year since powers to seize cash and assets from criminals came into law in 2003.
The Proceeds of Crime Act allows the police and Crown Prosecution Service to seize cash, confiscate assets, and conduct the civil recovery of assets accrued by criminals in the furtherance of their criminal businesses and activities.
The force’s Financial Investigation Unit works closely with CPS to take the profit out of crime and to hit career and organised criminals where it hurts – by stripping them of the cash and assets which allow them to pursue a lifestyle to which they are not entitled to.
Significant confiscations have been made over the past 12 months in relation to cases centring on the Isle of Wight, Farnborough and Aldershot, Alton and Waterlooville, amongst others.
As well as the confiscation orders totalling £3.3million, a further £572, 867 has been claimed back through forfeiture orders successfully gained against 37 people believed, on the balance of probabilities, to have come from or to be used in the commission of criminal activity.
All funds forfeited from criminals are divided 50/50 between the Home Office and Hampshire Constabulary, where money will be ploughed back into frontline policing and continuing the concerted work to deny organised criminals a foothold in the two counties.
All money subject to a confiscation order is also split with 50 per cent going back into the government central funds, 18.75 per cent to Hampshire Constabulary, 18.75 per cent to the CPS and 12.5 per cent to the courts.
Importantly, any funds claimed under the Proceeds of Crime Act which police can demonstrate belong to a victim of crime will be given directly back to the victim.
Detective Sergeant Lee Macarthur, who leads the FIU, said:
“Using our POCA powers effectively is a vital part of taking away the attraction of a criminal lifestyle, and an important part of the Government’s organised crime strategy. By tackling crime locally, we are stemming the opportunities for crime to take root in our communities.
“We are strengthening the law enforcement agencies ability to deal with offenders more robustly by stripping them of their lifestyle and cash and, as a result, making Hampshire and the Isle of Wight a hostile place for criminals.
“We have had some very significant seizures across the county in the past 12 months. Our message to criminals is that it doesn’t stop at receiving a prison sentence – we will go after your money, your house, your car, your belongings, anything we can prove has been gained through the profits of a criminal lifestyle.
“We will work with the courts to secure confiscation orders and forfeitures – and that order never goes away. Our biggest order is against a man who was the financier behind a cannabis importation ring which brought more than 119 kilos of the drug into Hampshire.
“He received a sentence of eight years in prison, and a confiscation order for £2.3million in cash and assets including houses in Dubai, properties in the UK, cash spread in accounts and a very expensive watch.
“He is due for release in six months time, but if he doesn’t pay back the £2.3million by time of his release, he will receive another eight years on top of his existing sentence. The confiscation order will not go away, and we are determined to make the criminal pay.”
Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Hindle said: “I am really impressed with the current level of POCA performance.
“This is the result of first class partnerships with the courts and CPS, and excellent team work across Hampshire Constabulary from the experts in our Financial Investigation Unit, who build the evidence and case for court to the Neighbourhood Teams who identify those living beyond their means.
“There can be no better way of satisfying victims of crime than for them to see the criminal give up their assets. Equally, the fact that the police can remove the proceeds of crime is an excellent deterrent for many crime types.”
James Kellam, Crown Advocate for CPS Wessex Complex Casework Unit, said:
“We have taken some innovative steps this year to maximise recovery of criminal funds.
“There is no time limit on these debts and non-payment is not an option. The CPS is committed to working with Hampshire police and the courts to make sure that we recover every penny we can from criminals.”
Key cases from past 12 months:
Imtiaz Ali, 46, currently serving eight year prison service for his part in a conspiracy to import 119kg of cannabis into the Alton area of Hampshire. Confiscation order for £2.3million in place. Must repay by date of release from prison or he receives a further eight year sentence to start immediately. The £2.3million confiscation order will still stand.
Operation Carey – Farnborough/Aldershot:
Miles Cracknell, 35, of Lightwater in Surrey, convicted of offences relating to drug supply in Aldershot and Farnborough and received three year jail sentence. £60,000 in cash forfeited.. Confiscation hearing this Friday (May 17) at Winchester Crown Court, where officers are applying to confiscate his house, cars, cash in various accounts and other assets.
Drugs operation in Waterlooville:
Drugs warrants executed at properties in Waterlooville by local Safer Neighbourhoods Team resulted in discovery of 2.5kg of amphetamine and 2.5kg of cannabis stashed in a wheelie bin, and £318,000 of cash stashed in a suitcase inside a wardrobe at the home of the suspect’s mum. Full amount of cash seized and confiscated as proceeds of crime.
Drugs operation at Ventnor, Isle of Wight:
Ryan Vaughan, 37, of Downside Road, Ventnor, arrested, charged and convicted in relation to the supply of drugs after 76 cannabis plants were found in his house alongside £38,000 in cash inside a holdall (picture attached). Police successfully applied for confiscation of a further £33926 from his bank accounts. He received a two year sentence at Newport Crown Court on November 23, 2012.