Efforts to collect proceeds of crime ‘disappointing’

Topics: Criminal justice,Government & politics

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  • National Audit Office

‘Fundamental weaknesses’ in a system to deprive criminals of the proceeds of their crimes remain, according to the public spending watchdog, which says offenders now owe £1.6bn to the state.

The government clawed back only 26p out of every £100 of identified criminal proceeds, the National Audit Office (pictured) reported in December 2013.


Publishing a progress report, the watchdog says improvements in collecting confiscated income over the past two years ‘have not been enough’ to reduce existing debt, which has risen by £158m since September 2013. Most of the increase is due to accrued penalty interest of 8% for non-payment.

A Criminal Finances Improvement Plan, established in 2014, has helped to ‘galvanise’ efforts to improve enforcement orders, the report states. But it does not set out agreed success measures or clarify the government’s objectives for confiscation.

Law enforcement and prosecution agencies have not increased their use of early action, with fewer restraint orders (to freeze assets) and fewer financial investigators available than two years ago.

Although criminal justice bodies have improved how they administer confiscation orders, they ‘need to show more determination and urgency’ to implement recommendations made by the Committee of Public Accounts and ‘address the deeper systemic problems surrounding the management of confiscation orders’.

However, the NAO says joint working has improved at the ‘operational’ level.

The sharing of information and expertise has improved as a result of different departmental teams being based in the same building in London.

The report acknowledges the government’s efforts to confiscate more UK criminal assets transferred abroad.

The Crown Prosecution Service has introduced six new asset recovery advisers dedicated to confiscating crime proceeds in countries such as Spain and the United Arab Emirates.

Despite ‘slow’ progress, the CPS recovered £300,000 from the UAE for the first time last year.

However, the watchdog says criminal justice bodies had more success assisting other countries to recover assets held in the UK. Last year they helped to recover £28m on behalf of Macau.

Readers' comments (2)

  • Read all about it.... read all about it ......

    £500 Billion of QE still uncollected....

    Chancellor of Exchequer in Budget privatises collection of such by delegating to G4 (like unpaid student loans) ....

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  • Regina v Boyle Transport (Northern Ireland) Ltd and Others
    “The Crown Court had not considered sufficiently what benefit accrued to the defendants personally: The Defendants’ benefit was their enhanced salary, dividends or other pecuniary advantage that had accrued as a result of the Old Company being operated in an illegal way. The benefit was not the turnover. Likewise the assets of the old company did not belong to PB and MB.”

    The vast majority of prosecutors and Crown Court Judges fantasise, adopting an ignorant/arrogant approach, or simply deliberately fail to comprehend the facts, when it comes to confiscation, in order to make attention grabbing, sensational headlines, I guess for self-justification of the costs to the public purse in pursuing such cases, and this is why we have the situation where so much remains uncollected in cases where fictitious confiscation orders are made.
    In these cases those responsible within the judiciary should be held accountable for their misdeeds.

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