Police claw back almost £1m from criminals
Police in the North East took cash and assets worth nearly £1m out of the hands of criminals last year, new figures show.
Home Office figures show Northumbria Police collected proceeds of crime worth £964,600 in 2020-21 – using legislation to obtain confiscation orders and civil powers to deprive offenders of the proceeds of crime.
Of this, £749,200 was obtained through confiscation orders, with officers deploying civil powers to take another £215,400 in cash and assets away from offenders.
The total collected by the force under the Proceeds of Crime Act was down from around £1.3m 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 QC, 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.”