Proceeds of Crime Act: Seizing assets obtained by criminal means

The background to seizing unlawfully gained proceeds

The need for statute law surrounding the issue of recovering any benefits of crime became established in a 1970’s drug trafficking case dubbed ‘Operation Julie’. It is significant as around £750,000 worth of drug trafficking proceeds were traced and held following conviction, however the House of Lords ruled that they were to be released due to the lack of governing policy on the matter. Following this apparent miscarriage of justice, governing statute law was introduced in the Drug Trafficking Offences act 1986, later to be extended to other offences that carry financial gain in the Criminal Justice Act 1988 for England and Wales, and more recently the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Proceeds Of Crime Act 2002: Assets Recovery Agency (ARA) and the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA)

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 is in twelve parts, with part one creating an Assets Recovery Agency (ARA), operational as of February 2003, which was granted the authority to confiscate/seize proceeds of crime. Due to targets not being met, the ARA, as of 2008, seized operation and its responsibilities were redistributed, with civil recovery being taken over by SOCA.

Who can assist in seizure of criminally gained proceeds?

Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)

The Police and criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE)

acknowledges the need for police constables to have help from relevant experts in the field a given type of crime. This refers to searching and seizure procedures. Under Section 16(2) of PACE, a search warrant authorises the necessary presence of a person(s) accompanying the constable in possession of the warrant. And under the new subsection (2A) any such person has the same powers as the constable whom he is accompanying in relation to seizing the proceeds to which the warrant relates. This can only be done under the supervision of a police constable.

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For more information on:

  • Confiscation orders
  • What amount does the court have the power to confiscate?
  • Money Laundering