Cleveland Police claw back more than £500,000 from criminals
Police took cash and assets worth more than £500,000 out of the hands of criminals last year, new figures show.
Home Office figures show Cleveland Police collected proceeds of crime worth £543,800 in 2020-21 – using legislation to obtain confiscation orders and civil powers to deprive offenders of the proceeds of crime.
Of this, £302,000 was obtained through confiscation orders, with officers deploying civil powers to take another £241,000 in cash and assets away from offenders.
Despite problems caused by the pandemic, the total collected by the force under the Proceeds of Crime Act was up from the £419,200 the year before.
Nationally, Police forces collected around £96m – down from £101m the previous year.
Experts say significant disruption to the criminal justice system due to the coronavirus pandemic contributed to the national drop.
Courts prioritised trials for the most serious offences, meaning fewer acquisitive crime cases were heard last year.
Jo Sidhu, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said: “Fewer prosecutions reach the courts meaning fewer convictions from which to pursue recovery proceedings. These in turn require local police forces to recover assets and forces are short of both people and skills."
Adrian Foster, of the Crown Prosecution Service's proceeds of crime division, said more than £565m had been recovered in five years, with £124m returned to victims of crime in compensation payments.
He added: “The closure of courts has severely impacted on the amount paid by individuals towards their confiscation orders this year but, as courts recover, we are determined to ensure criminals do not benefit from their ill-gotten gains.”