Over the last few years, the approach of the authorities towards acquisitive crime has increasingly moved from focusing on obtaining long sentences for serious criminals to ensuring that they are deprived of the wealth they have acquired through crime.
The operation of the Proceeds of Crime Act is such that where criminal property is confiscated, it can be used to compensate victims of crime (where these can be identified) and ploughed back into funding the various law enforcement agencies.
For property to be identified as the proceeds of crime, the burden of proof is the civil one of ‘on the balance of probabilities’, rather than the criminal one of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. In practice this means that the confiscation of assets acquired through criminal activity is relatively easy.
Recently, Leicestershire Police confiscated criminal assets of nearly £3m, including £1m in cash, following the convictions of sixteen people for offences ranging from theft and benefit fraud to car clocking.