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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 February, 2004, 13:49 GMT
Police to get more criminal cash
55m in cash has been seized by police since December 2002
Police forces are to receive a greater share of the money they confiscate from criminals, the Home Office has said.

The scheme is designed to reward police by giving them a stake in the money they seize from criminals.

By 2005 forces will get to keep a half of all recovered assets over a threshold of 40m.

Police and customs officers can also confiscate 5,000 in cash - half of the previous limit of 10,000, said Home Office minister Caroline Flint.

It comes a year after the Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) was launched and given the task of seizing more cash and property from crooks.

'Spur on police'

The new initiative - which applies to forces in England and Wales, the National Crime Squad, British Transport Police and the Police Service of Northern Ireland - is designed to motivate police to seize and recover more criminally acquired wealth, the minister said.

Ms Flint said: "One year on, the tough powers in the Proceeds of Crime Act are hitting criminals where it hurts - in their pockets. Law enforcement agencies are using the new tools to strip criminals of their assets with great success.

"Now is the time to spur police on to achieve even greater success by giving them a stake in the assets taken back from criminals."

Currently, 15.5m a year of recovered assets is allocated to a fund, out of which various police projects are given money.

Cash seized since Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
55m seized by police and customs
37.6m confiscated
12.7m frozen by Assets Recovery Agency in civil cases
6.2m under restraint orders in criminal courts

The ARA, which was set up in February last year, has 20 civil cases subject to interim and freezing orders.

The Home Office has announced the creation of four new regional teams based in the North West, the North East, London and Wales.

The Regional Asset Recovery Teams, each 30 strong, will be police-led. One team, already operating in the West Midlands, has so far restrained 11.4m worth of suspected criminal assets.

It has also confiscated through the courts a further 337,000.

Items include 16 houses worth up to 2m each and two Spanish villas in Marbella. One seized house had seven bedrooms, six reception rooms and a swimming pool.

The team has also seized top of the range Mercedes, BMWs, Porsches and a Bentley.

The London team was set up two months ago and has seized 766,000 in criminal cash and successfully applied through the courts for more than 1m of assets to be frozen from suspected criminals.

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05 Mar 01  |  Politics

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