Criminals can be ordered to forfeit their assets or the courts can rule they should be confiscated under the Proceeds of Crime Act as part of a move designed to ensure criminals pay back the benefits from committing crime. Those who do not pay in a specified time face further time in prison, while the order still needs repaying.
In West Yorkshire, during the past financial year 324 confiscation orders were granted with a value of £5,037,199, over £580,000 has been forfeited and police have also restrained access to cash, bank accounts and property to a value of £20.5m.
Det Chief Insp Fran Naughton, of West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit said: “These are tough times for the public and the last year has seen law abiding members of the public losing their jobs and livelihoods.
“Criminals have no regard for how hard people have to work to keep their families afloat. We are committed to investigating negative role models in your communities and not only convicting them of their crimes but stripping them of their assets.
“Criminals will not be allowed to live off the proceeds of crime by living in large houses and driving around in expensive cars at the price of hard working members of the public.
“This is not just about the amount of money we take off criminals but making sure we target those who are causing misery for others in their neighbourhood.”
Mark Davey, 34, of Maple Avenue, Bradford, and Peter Atherton, 36, of Raby Drive, Moreton, Wirral, were sentenced to 12 years and six years respectively in January 2010 at Bradford Crown Court for their roles in conspiring to traffic cocaine in West Yorkshire, Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire.
In March 2011 a confiscation order was granted against the pair. Davey’s criminal benefit has been established as £320,000 and he has been ordered to pay £134,081 and given six months to pay or face a further three years in prison. Atherton’s criminal benefit has been established as £288,145 and he has been ordered to pay £105,843. He was given six months to pay or face a further two years, three months in prison.
Mohammed Rashid, 37, of Rylstone Street, Keighley, was sentenced to five years at Bradford Crown Court in December 2008 after being found guilty of arranging fraudulent insurance claims. In October 2010 a confiscation order was granted by the courts. The total benefit of Rashid’s crimes was £300,000 and he was ordered to pay £150,000 in six months or face an extra two years, four months, in prison.
In another case Stephen Richmond, 50, of Main Street, Menston, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in June 2010 for fraud offences after cloning the identities of high ranking professionals in West Yorkshire in order to obtain credit. Richmond’s total criminal benefit was calculated at £204,743 and in November 2010 at Leeds Crown Court he was ordered to pay £191,382 within six months or face a further three years in prison.
Det Chief Insp Naughton added: “I urge the public to report any suspicions they have about people living beyond their means and without any apparent legitimate income.”
Operation Freshwater recently launched by the force revisits any outstanding confiscation orders and detectives and financial investigators are able to see if there are any more available assets. A further £286,598 has been confiscated from criminals.
The money confiscated is used to fund community projects in areas affected by crime and further policing operations. West Yorkshire Police receive a share of the money, along with the Government and the courts. Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 with any information.