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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Criminals' money spent on community
Heroin
Drug dealers' money is now funding drug clinics
Confiscated criminal assets have raised nearly 3m to be spent on community projects across England and Wales.

Ministers announced on Friday where cash from the Recovered Assets Fund (RAF) would be redirected.

Among the 19 crime-reduction projects to benefit are a domestic violence awareness campaign, a drug treatment clinic and the development of a street wardens scheme.

The cash comes from seizing assets such as homes, bank accounts, cars and even, in some cases, racehorses.

Some projects funded
South Bucks: 220,000 for drug clinic
South Yorks: 624,000 for anti-crime scheme
Calderdale: 93,000 for street wardens
Swansea: 33,000 to trap car thieves
North Wales: 15,000 for shop radios to combat theft
The south-east and Yorkshire received the lion's share - more than 1m each from a total pot of 2.8m.

It is the second distribution of RAF grants following a 250,000 announcement when the fund was set up in October 2001.

Home Office minister Bob Ainsworth said: "I would like to offer my congratulations to the successful bidders and look forward to following their progress over the next few months as their various initiatives take shape."

The government has pledged to increase the value of criminal assets seized to 60m a year by 2004-05.

On Wednesday, a law which increases seizure powers, the Proceeds of Crime Bill, completed its passage through Parliament.

Greater powers

This established a new Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) to sue suspected criminals in the civil courts.

It enables the authorities to recover alleged crime proceeds, including houses, cars, jewellery, cash and gifts to friends and relatives.

Before, they could only confiscate the proceeds of offences for which a defendant was convicted.

The ARA will only have to prove wealth is generated by a "criminal lifestyle" and not a specific crime.

Because cases will be heard in the civil courts, cases must only be proved "on the balance of probabilities".

A total of 130 bids were received for the RAF grants and the next round of spending will be in September.

See also:

25 Jul 02 | UK
26 Feb 02 | Scotland
18 Oct 01 | Scotland
02 Jul 02 | N Ireland
23 May 02 | N Ireland
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