New fund brings criminal cash back to communities (14 Feb 2014)

Up to half a million pounds a year in criminal assets is to be delivered back to communities in West Yorkshire. 

Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns Williamson has today (14/02) launched the Safer Communities Fund. 

It sees money seized under the Proceeds of Crime Act within the county fed in to a single pot of cash, exclusively for community safety initiatives. 

Local organisations and groups across the county will be able to submit applications of up to £10,000. 

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: 

"I have launched the Safer Communities Fund to bring together money seized from criminals across the county into a single community purse. 

"I want to make it easier for local groups and organisations to receive money under the Proceeds of Crime Act and make a difference to the local communities. 

"Thousands of pounds recovered from criminals will be made available in four bidding rounds per year. Each submission must also meet the priorities and outcomes outlined in my Police and Crime Plan.

"Under current legislation, the Government keeps half of the money seized from criminals in West Yorkshire, however; I want to see all of that returned to the county. This could potentially double the cash available within my Safer Communities Fund and help to keep people safe and feeling safe. 

"I am leading a nationwide campaign to bring this money back and have launched a petition which I would urge everyone to sign. If it receives 100,000 signatures the subject will be discussed in parliament. 

"I have also recently written to the Policing and Criminal Justice Minister, Damien Green to ask that he considers my proposal to spend Proceeds of Crime Money in the areas they were recovered. I have also asked him to look at further amendments that will mean greater powers for police and partners in retrieving ill-gotten gains. 

"Only last week did I receive further positive correspondence from the Security Minister James Brokenshire who is responsible for this legislation in which he promised to look at my proposals and work with the police to get it right." 

Dee Collins, Deputy Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police said: 

"We continue to clamp down on those benefiting from criminal activity and the recent launch of Operation Viper has been instrumental in targeting such individuals, whether it is through drugs, firearms or other serious offences. 

"We need the support of the local community, however; to identify those who are committing these crimes and living beyond their means. This information will enable us to seize their assets and contribute more money to the Safer Communities Fund. 

"Ask yourself why should they? Make sure your neighbourhood benefits from their negative behaviour and call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or the non emergency number 101." 

Bids for money under the Safer Communities Fund can be made on-line or can be downloaded from the West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner's website.

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