Boost to PCCs drive to get seized cash reinvested back into West Yorkshire (13 Dec 2013)

Plans by the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner to get all Proceeds of Crime cash reinvested back into West Yorkshire are gathering pace after a meeting with the Policing Minister.

Mark Burns-Williamson met with Damian Green yesterday (THUR) and handed him a document proposing ways to close loopholes exploited by criminals to avoid their assets being seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act. (POCA).

The PCC started his petition to get all illegal cash seized under POCA ploughed back into West Yorkshire a year ago as part of his election pledge, because currently 50 per cent of proceeds go back to the Treasury.

He initially raised the POCA petition with Mr Green last month (NOV) and fellow Security Minister James Brokenshire last week who agreed that loopholes meaning cash gets hidden overseas need closing.

The latest proposals handed to Mr Green this week included giving police powers under POCA to seize and retain property, cut down the bureaucracy on information sharing between government departments to speed up investigations, and allow property in police possession to be immediately transferred when the confiscation order is made ensuring it can be sold at best value rather than the current drawn out long delays.

Currently there are no powers to sell property in police possession unless the defendant gives their consent to sale.

Suspected ill-gotten gains in bank accounts where the prisoner has absconded also means police are powerless to access it and a proposed change to current legislation would mean that could be seized regardless.

It is believed that more than £1million of inaccessible illegal cash is currently sitting in bank accounts across West Yorkshire.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: "I raised the issue with Mr Green again and reiterated the need for more money to come back to the local area through POCA and he didn't disagree with that.

"Then I actually gave him the briefing on legislation to look at the areas in terms of loopholes that need to be seriously looked at as part of the review on legislation and he seemed quite appreciative that I passed that on.

"He was a bit more forthcoming about the Autumn statement and I made the point again to him because of the way the funding formula works at the moment if the cuts are passed onto policing we will suffer.


"In his words he said that he was trying to protect the policing budget but there was no guarantee obviously."

The settlement figure for West Yorkshire Police from the Home Office will be revealed on Wednesday (December 18) and there are fears it could mean £7million of cuts for West Yorkshire Police if the full impact of cuts hits locally.

To sign the POCA petition visit http://action.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/page/s/giveusbackallthemoney

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