More than £2 million worth of cash and assets were recovered from criminals and suspects who operated in Kent during 2018/19.
Financial investigators from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate use legislation under the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure drug dealers and others who earn a living through illegal trades are not allowed to continue to benefit following their release from prison.
Successful POCA applications over the past financial year include:
• Cash totalling £11,900 was returned to elderly victims of rogue trading in the West Kingsdown area of Sevenoaks after being seized from a vehicle believed to be linked to the offences.
• A Medway woman was ordered to pay more than £60,000 back to an elderly woman whose finances she was supposed to be managing but who had instead written a number of cheques out to herself and forged the victim’s signature.
• A fraudster from Tunbridge Wells was forced to pay a woman back £9,043 after he met her on a dating website and tricked her into investing in companies that did not exist.
• A Gravesend couple whose home was raided as part of an investigation into class A drug supply forfeited £90,600 cash. The couple were never charged with any offences in relation to the case, but officers were able to prove the money seized from their home was connected to the sale of illegal substances.
• A drug offender caught with £33,000 worth of amphetamine at a house in Broadstairs was ordered to pay back the same figure.
Financial investigators have the ability to seize cash and assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Types of orders
A cash forfeiture order is granted by the courts following an investigation into any cash seized that is more than £1,000 and is believed to be recoverable property from criminal activity or is intended to be used in crime.
The total number of forfeiture orders granted between April 2018 and March 2019 was 69, with a total value of £837,049 forfeited.
Investigators can also obtain confiscation orders following conviction of an offender who has benefited from their criminal activity.
Over the last 12 months confiscation orders were granted to the value of just under £1.2 million.
Cash totalling more than £2.8 million and 239,625 Euros was also seized.
Assistant Chief Constable Nick Downing of Kent Police is the National Police Chiefs Council lead for Financial Investigation and Proceeds of Crime.
‘Many people who commit crime do so because they see it as an easy way to make money, whether it is by selling property they have stolen or being paid large sums of money for the supply of harmful drugs like crack cocaine and heroin.
‘The Proceeds of Crime Act is a vital piece of legislation that enables us to prevent criminals from continuing to reap the benefits of their illegal activities even after they have been arrested, charged and sent to prison. It can also be used in cases where we have been unable to prove a person was responsible for a criminal act, but when the courts agree with us that the money or property was gained unlawfully.
‘Our financial investigators play a vital role in bringing evidence of this nature to court and ensuring criminals are left under no illusion that crime ultimately does not pay.’
Assets recovered under the Proceeds of Crime Act are distributed to operational agencies including Kent Police under the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme (ARIS). Broadly, ARIS divides recovered assets between operational agencies and the Home Office which is then reinvested into policing.
If you believe someone you know has unexplained wealth or is benefiting financially from crime, please report it to Kent Police by visiting www.kent.police.uk/report or by calling 101. Alternatively call the independent charity Crimestoppers in Kent anonymously on 0800 555111.