Freedom of Information: Proceeds of Crime Act (R010389)
Thank you for your request dated 20 May 2015 under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) for the undernoted information:
“I am looking for the breakdown of the total amount secured through the Proceeds of Crime Act in the 12month period from 1 April 2012 to 31 March 2013 which was made up of £8 million from criminals convicted of relevant offences and £4 million from cash forfeitures and asset recovery orders granted by the civil courts.
The information that I require is as follows:
Date of Order, Name, date of birth, relevant offence and amount.
If possible I would like this information in excel format.
If possible please also provide the above information for the years 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014, and 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015”
Thank you also for your request dated 22 June 2015 for a review of our failure to respond to your request under FOISA for the above information.
I have been asked to carry out a review of our failure to respond to your request within the 20 working day deadline which expired on 17 June 2015. I have looked at the case afresh to establish the reasons for our failure to respond on time and, in accordance with Section 21(4) of FOISA, I have also reached a decision on your request.
I am sorry for the delay in responding to you within the 20 working day deadline. This was due to the large volume of information which required to be collated and checked in order to provide your response.
I can now provide below our response to your original request.
It might assist if I begin by explaining that there are two specialist units within the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) which deal with work under the Proceeds of Crime Act, namely:
(i) Criminal confiscation which is dealt with by the Serious and Organised Crime Division (SOCD); and
(ii) Civil recovery which is dealt with by the Civil Recovery Unit (CRU).
(i) SOCD deals with restraint and confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 on behalf of COPFS.
(ii) 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.
Much of the information you have requested is available on the COPFS website as it has been previously published as Media Releases and responses we have made to previous FOI Requests. I attach a link to the website for your information: http://www.copfs.gov.uk
Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we are not required to provide information in response to a request if it is already reasonably accessible to you. However, as the information is contained in a number of previously published items, rather than provide you with links to those individual items, in an effort to assist, I have collated that information into one response.
In respect of the part of your request relating to confiscation orders against convicted persons, I attach herewith tables showing the monies recovered from confiscation orders under the Proceeds of Crime legislation made at the conclusion of criminal proceedings for financial years 2012/13, 2013/14 and 2014/15.
The date of birth of the person against whom the confiscation order has been made is not being released. This is consistent with previously published responses. This information is exempt from release under section 38(1)(b) of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA). This exemption applies because the information is personal data of a third party and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 1998. This is an absolute exemption and is not subject to the public interest test.
In respect of the part of your request relating to cash forfeiture and asset recovery, I attach herewith tables relating to Asset Recovery remitted amounts to the Scottish Consolidated Fund for the financial years 2012-2015 and tables relating to Cash Forfeitures subsequently remitted to the Scottish Consolidated Fund for the financial years 2013-2015. The source data for the cash forfeitures remitted to the Scottish Consolidated Fund for the financial year 2012/13 is no longer available, however the total cash forfeiture figure for this year was £1,774,518.
In civil proceedings money seized by law enforcement officers under the cash recovery provision of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 can be detained and then forfeited by the Sheriff Court, on application of the Civil Recovery Unit on behalf of the Scottish Ministers. Forfeited cash is remitted to the Scottish Consolidated Fund.
Where proceedings are to be brought on behalf of the Scottish Ministers for the recovery of non-cash assets, the assets may be secured pending recovery by one of two types of court order. The first is an interim administration order (IAO). The second is a prohibitory property order (PPO). Both of these orders are granted by the Court of Session following applications by the CRU.
Non-cash property recovered under the civil recovery provisions of the 2002 Act is vested in the Trustee for Civil Recovery either by the Court of Session or by means of extra-judicial settlement. The function of the Trustee is to realise the value of the property. Realised funds are then transferred to the Scottish Consolidated Fund.
Only case reference numbers, the date of remittance and the amount remitted can be provided in respect of this part of your request. Because proceedings are raised to recover assets and are not raised against the person, the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested in relation to the name of the person and the offence committed would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. Under Section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under Section 12.
In order to ensure the name of the person assets were recovered from and the offence committed, Crown Office staff would be required to consider individually each case file for cash forfeiture and asset recovery and the time taken to complete this task would exceed the upper cost limit.