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POCA results in serious disruption to criminals

The Crown Office can reveal that £8 million was seized from criminals in Scotland last year under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Assets worth £3.6 million were recovered through the courts from criminals’ illegal profits and a further £4.4 million of assets obtained through unlawful conduct were seized by civil recovery measures, from those who could not justify how their assets were obtained.

The latest figures show a marked increase in the use of Civil Recovery disclosure notices, which are a key investigative tool in the fight against people funding their lifestyles through crime.

Two hundred and eighty such notices were served between April 2013 and the end of March 2014 – up from 195 the previous year.

Announcing the latest POCA figures the Solicitor General Lesley Thomson Q.C said:

“POCA has resulted in serious disruption to criminals operating in Scotland. Those who attempt to build up criminal business are finding that we can wreck their ventures by ending their funding steams and their hopes of living off the profits of their crimes.

“Any business needs profits to reinvest and grow. By targeting the revenue stream of those involved in illegal activity, we deprive them of the opportunity to build up criminal empires and in doing so we help to make Scotland a safer place.”

“The combination of an increase in both disruption and confiscation orders is a double whammy for criminals operating in Scotland. Hundreds of them have felt the full force of POCA over the last year and it has destroyed their lifestyles and their activities.”

Lindsey Miller, Procurator Fiscal for Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism and the COPFS POCA Champion said:

“Before the POCA legislation was introduced the criminal fine would have been the end of the matter but now the conviction is only the start of a process by which criminals must account for how they are funding their extravagant lifestyle or see it come to an end.”

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill added:

“Today’s figures demonstrate that the Proceeds of Crime Act continues to be an extremely powerful and effective tool in the fight against organised crime in Scotland.

“The significant efforts of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and law enforcement agencies across Scotland should be warmly welcomed as we continue to put pressure on gangsters who seek to spread misery and fear by disrupting their criminal activities and stripping them of their ill-gotten gains, even when their crimes move into areas that the public would not necessarily consider as being linked with serious and organised crime.

“Since 2003, the use of the Proceeds of Crime Act in Scotland, has allowed over £80 million to be recovered from criminals, and since 2007 this money has been put to excellent use through the CashBack for Communities, funding around 1.2 million activities and opportunities for our young people right across Scotland”.

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