Criminals in Sussex are being stripped of their illegal profits say police

Sussex Police say they are continuing to put pressure on offenders by stripping them of their criminal profits to the tune of over £1.4 million in the past year.

The news comes as the force achieved its best ever result in terms of confiscation orders in July issued under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

Five convicted defendants in a major national horse-race betting brochure fraud have been served with confiscation orders for a total of £7.6 million.

Using powers under POCA, the force had successfully applied to courts during the financial year 2013/14 for 109 confiscation orders following criminal convictions, valued at £1,492,750. The force also obtained 28 civil forfeiture orders valued at £138,482, following cash seizures from suspected offenders and a further £7,277 in other forfeitures.

Money seized goes to the Government but half of it is handed back and is then used by Sussex Police to help support the work of the force’s financial investigators, and as donations to local Sussex-based crime reduction and diversion projects.

It also goes to community projects.

Detective Inspector Mick Richards of the force’s Economic Crime Unit said “These are just the latest results of continuing hard work by our officers, and in particular our expert financial investigators.

“We now target not just the criminals but also the profits of their crimes, whether they are from drug dealing or any other form of criminal activity. It can take time and each investigation is subject of an application for a court-authorised confiscation order.

“Criminals need to know that where we think they have profits, hidden though they may be, we don’t give up after sentencing. Financial investigation is increasingly at the heart of all criminal investigation.”

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, said: “In Sussex it has been agreed by the Police & Crime Commissioner (PCC) and the Chief Constable that POCA funds are distributed equally between the two organisations.

“I think it is absolutely right that proceeds of crime should be removed from criminals and for that money to be reinvested directly back into our local communities to fund initiatives that prevent and deter crime, improve community safety, and support victims.”