Criminals are being shown that crime doesn’t pay as the Metropolitan Police Service reveals it has seized more than £73 million from convicted perpetrators during 2015-2016. This is the largest total seized in London in a single year since the Proceeds of Crime Act came into force back in 2002.
Each year, millions of pounds of assets are recovered from convicted criminals following financial investigations conducted by the Metropolitan Police Service’s Criminal Finance Teams using proceeds of crime legislation. Criminal Finance Teams and Joint Enforcement Teams are ensuring that criminals don’t profit from their criminality by using the full range of the legislation to restrain assets and confiscate the value of criminal activity. Assets seized range from properties through to vehicles, jewellery and artwork.
In the financial year 2015-2016, the Metropolitan Police Service issued orders under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 totalling £73.4 million. The largest single value cash seizure in 2015-2016 was £943,000. The cash was found when officers stopped a black taxi in east London and found a large holdall in the passenger compartment which contained the funds. The money was subsequently forfeited under the Proceeds of Crime Act in early 2016.
The largest confiscation order made in May 2015 was to the value of £6,328,119.39. Criminality here related to the supply of Chip and PIN machines for central London brothels. The main perpetrator created a number of sham companies purporting to offer events and function facilities to corporate clients. These companies were then used to obtain numerous Chip and PIN machines from various Merchant Services Providers by fraudulently misrepresenting their business intentions. The machines were then placed into several brothels in order to facilitate payment for vice services and Class A drugs from paying customers.
Funds forfeited and confiscated by the Metropolitan Police Service are paid to the Home Office, although the Met receives a percentage back from the Home Office through the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme (ARIS). In 2015-2016, the Met received £8.89 million through ARIS.
The Metropolitan Police Service uses monies received from the ARIS income to fund and support financial investigation posts within the Met’s Business Groups, fund and support financial investigation training across the Met and operate and fund a number of different internal schemes designed to drive performance (including the Proceeds of Crime Act Funding Scheme, which is used to support and encourage Borough proactive policing in relation to acquisitive crime, generate further Proceeds of Crime Act opportunities and assist Boroughs and Specialist Units in targeting organised criminal groups, gangs and violence).
Criminality doesn’t pay
During Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe’s term as Commissioner since September 2011, the Met has seized or confiscated £317.14 million through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and received £40.16 million through ARIS.
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe QPM stated: “The Metropolitan Police Service is here to reduce crime and keep people safe. It’s satisfying to see criminals pay back for the damage they cause communities through the assets we’ve recovered. The message here is loud and clear. Crime doesn’t pay, and those criminals who think it does will have to deal with the full force of the Metropolitan Police Service.”
The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 is an Act of Parliament which gives police the powers to identify and remove assets obtained from a criminal lifestyle. Using the Act, police officers are able to investigate the financial affairs of a suspect to see if any of their assets were obtained through criminal means. A court can then impose an asset confiscation order against the suspect, ordering him or her to pay a given sum of money.
Police officers also have the power to seize cash and goods on suspicion that they may be the proceeds of crime. Suspects must then show they were earned legitimately. Otherwise, they lose them.
Amounts seized or confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act
2011-2012: £57.9 million
2012-2013: £62.4 million
2013-2014: £57.8 million
2014-2015: £66 million
2015-2016: £73.04 million
Total: £317.14 million
2011-2012: £10.35 million
2012-2013: £6.51 million
2013-2014: £7.38 million
2014-2015: £7.03 million
2015-2016: £8.89 million
Total: £40.16 million