Latest data from the regional team committed to recovering the ill-gotten gains of criminals reveals more than £600,000 of confiscated funds was clawed back from offenders in the last financial year.
The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) Asset Confiscation Enforcement (ACE) team was launched in October 2014 and works with a number of law enforcement agencies to recover proceeds of crime from offenders.
The team not only enforces against unpaid confiscations, but proactively reviews old cases to ensure that any individuals previously made subject of confiscation orders are made to repay the full amount in light of assets they may have gained or uncovered since.
Based within the ERSOU, the ACE team assists enforcement of Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation orders on behalf of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Norfolk and Suffolk forces, in addition to those secured by other agencies in the region.
In the last financial year (2016-17) the ACE team recovered a total of £630,439.42 from unpaid orders made against criminals – money which was then redistributed to victims of crime, the Home Office and forces within the region to fund the fight against crime and community-based projects.
The team regularly attends the Confiscation Enforcement Court based in Folkestone, Kent, and works closely with the HM Courts and Tribunals Service to assist with cases that have extended beyond payment deadlines.
This joint working has improved the effectiveness of the court, saved valuable court time, and successfully concluded long-running cases.
ACE investigators recently supported in enforcing a Confiscation Order which culminated with the seizure of two Dubai apartments that had been purchased from the proceeds of drug trafficking.
The order was originally made against Marvin Douglas, 35, of Hidcote Drive, Milton Keynes, who was convicted for drug trafficking and firearms offences relating to Bedfordshire in 2012.
But aside from his criminal convictions, work was undertaken alongside Specialist Prosecutor Ousman M’Bai of the Crown Prosecution Service, to identify his foreign assets and repatriate the proceeds from their sale in a complex and groundbreaking case totalling £481,834.28 in seized funds.
Douglas was produced from prison to appear before Cambridge Crown Court on Tuesday 18 April, when his Proceeds of Crime orders were increased to reflect the true gains he made from criminal activity.
Failure of payment would have cost Douglas a further 12 months in custody.
ACE team Financial Investigation Manager Nick Bentley said: “We pursue criminals through work with specialist prosecutors in the UK and around the globe to recover proceeds from crime utilising the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. This work should send a clear message to those tempted to flout the law that crime truly does not pay.”
Detective Chief Inspector Martin Peters from the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit said: “Often criminals believe that they can hide their assets years after the initial offending, when they think the police are no longer looking at their activity. However, I can safely say that we will go looking at criminals with unpaid orders to get the monies back from their ill-gotten gains.
“The case involving Douglas is a clear demonstration that we will go hunting for criminal assets Douglas was a significant criminal causing a lot of harm with his drug-dealing in Bedfordshire and surrounding counties. As a result of the ACE team’s work we were able to locate his hidden assets abroad and directly link them to his offending.”
Anyone with information about criminal activity including proceeds of crime is urged to pass on intelligence to police via 101, or to contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.