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POCA (25/11/2016) (R014655)

Thank you for your request dated 31 October 2016 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for the undernoted information:

“What was the total value of money seized through the proceeds of crime act during the past 12 months from Aberdeen, Peterhead, Banff and Elgin Sheriff Courts.

Please break this total down to show the total values seized at each of the courts over the same period.

What were the ten highest values seized, provide details of the cases each related to, at which court the cases called and the dates each seizure was ordered.”

Firstly, I should explain that there are two specialised units within COPFS dealing with work under the Proceeds of Crime Act, namely:

(i) Criminal confiscation which is dealt with by the Proceeds of Crime Unit (POCU) within the Serious Casework Division of COPFS; and

(ii) Civil recovery which is dealt with by the Civil Recovery Unit (CRU), a constitutionally distinct unit acting as sole agents for the Scottish Ministers to carry out civil investigations and litigation under Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

(i) The Proceeds of Crime Unit (POCU) has primary responsibility for the implementation of Proceeds of Crime legislation throughout Scotland, in so far as it relates to restraint and confiscation. Additionally POCU has responsibility for the management of the Expedited Referrals Project and liaison with the Civil Recovery Unit on appropriate cases.  The aim of criminal confiscation provisions of Proceeds of Crime legislation is to allow the court, following a conviction, to make a confiscation order requiring an accused to pay a fixed sum of money reflecting the benefit obtained from either particular criminal conduct, or, in appropriate cases, from a criminal lifestyle.

Both the Proceeds of Crime Unit (POCU) and the Civil Recovery Unit (CRU) have provided information in response to your request.

The table attached at Annex A contains details of all the confiscation orders made within Aberdeen, Peterhead, Banff and Elgin Sheriff Courts in the last 12 months to 31 October 2016.  Please note that the initials “MDA” in the Charge column of the table refer to the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The aim of the criminal confiscation provisions of POCA is to allow the court to make a confiscation order requiring an accused to pay a fixed sum of money relating to the benefit obtained from his general criminal conduct in a criminal lifestyle case and from his particular criminal conduct otherwise.

A criminal confiscation order therefore remains an order to pay a fixed sum of money and is entirely separate from forfeiture of items such as cars and cash used in the commission of the crime itself.

In a particular criminal conduct case, the benefit relates directly to the offence or offences before the court. In a general criminal conduct/criminal lifestyle case, by the use of statutory assumptions in POCA, the court is entitled to assume that any benefit received over the preceding 6 year period has been obtained in connection with his general criminal conduct unless the accused establishes that it was obtained legitimately. In such criminal lifestyle/general criminal conduct cases, such benefit does not require to be linked to the offence or offences of which the accused is convicted nor to any previous offences.

The upper limit of a confiscation order is the amount of benefit which the accused has made from his general criminal conduct. This is known as the recoverable amount. If, however, the accused can satisfy the court that the available amount (i.e. the realisable property which he or she holds) is less than the recoverable amount, then the confiscation order will be made for the available amount.

In instances where there are no assets available at the time a confiscation order is made an order can be made for as small a figure as £1.00.  These confiscation orders are called nominal confiscation orders.  The purpose of a nominal order is to preserve the Crown’s position, so that if the accused obtains any assets in the future the Crown can ask the court to recalculate the confiscation order.

You will note that there is an entry which relates to an order under Section 107.  This is not a new order, but relates to an earlier order made in Court against the accused.  In instances where the recoverable assets are less that the proceeds of the crime, should further assets be identified or the true value once realised be greater than previously thought, Section 107 of the Act enables the prosecutor to return to Court to increase the amount which the accused requires to pay (subject to the maximum being his benefit figure from the proceeds of crime). 

(ii) The Civil Recovery Unit (CRU) acts on behalf of the Scottish Ministers as the enforcement authority for Scotland under Part 5 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.  CRU functions under the 2002 Act can be divided into two areas: asset recovery and cash forfeiture.  Cash forfeiture cases only are heard in the Sheriff Court.  Other assets are dealt with by proceedings raised in the Court of Session and therefore not applicable to this request.

The following figures set out the seizures of cash within the jurisdictions of Aberdeen, Peterhead, Elgin and Banff Sheriff Courts which were referred to the Civil Recovery Unit in the 12 months to 17 November 2016.  Where cash is seized by police or customs officers, either an application is made for its continued detention pending forfeiture proceedings or a forfeiture application is made immediately.  Accordingly, the following sums of cash may be regarded as having been restrained during the relevant period and will not equate to the amounts ultimately forfeited:-


Amounts of cash seized

Under POCA 2002 (£)









The following table lists the ten largest cash seizures across all the aforementioned Sheriff Courts for the year to 17 November 2016

POCA Annex A R014655.pdf