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Wednesday, 14 June, 2000, 05:23 GMT 06:23 UK
Call to seize criminal assets
Drugs
Drug dealers' assists run into the millions
Police forces across Scotland need to give much greater priority to the confiscation of criminal assets, a new report says.

The Police Inspectorate conducted a probe into the merits of seizing the assets of criminals and it makes its findings known on Wednesday.

It concluded that more national co-ordination was needed in regard to confiscations and there was a need for more specialist enforcement officers.

Scotland's drugs minister Angus Mackay has already said that there needs to be a greater clampdown on drug dealers.

A recent BBC investigation estimated that Glasgow's heroin trade alone was worth between 60m and 80m a year - more than the annual turnover of Rangers and Celtic put together.

But the total criminal assets seized last year in Scotland was a fraction of that - only 800,000.

Dedicated units

The Police Inspectorate's report shows that three out of the eight forces in the country do not have a special financial unit dedicated to tracking criminal assets.

And in the whole country there are only 21 police officers working on asset confiscation.

In light of this report, the newly created 4m Scottish Drugs Enforcement Agency may now have a financial investigations unit built onto its operations.

Chief Inspector of Constabulary for Scotland, William Taylor, said: "It is important to remove the benefits which criminals make their crimes.

"Crime cannot be seen to pay. We must therefore ensure that the existing legislation is rigorously enforced when dealing with all criminals."

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