Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA)

Making sure crime doesn't pay

Money is at the heart of all organised crime. The lifestyle and status it brings is the main motivation for most criminals and just as legitimate businesses need funding to stay afloat, so does organised crime. Without cashflow, deals can’t be made and people can’t be paid. For both these reasons, many organised criminals fear attacks on their finances and lifestyle more than prison.

About the Proceeds of Crime Act

The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 is a piece of legislation created to tackle organised crime, giving officers the power to seize cash and recover assets such as cars and houses bought by criminals through the proceeds of their crimes.

POCA strikes directly at the main motive for crime, deterring offenders, disrupting organised crime and showing the public that crime doesn’t pay.

The money recovered and made through the sale of the criminal’s assets can then be put back into community projects and helps to fund further investigations.

How can the police part criminals from their money?

Cheshire Police use the Proceeds of Crime Act to make it more difficult for criminals to get their hands on their money and launder the profits of their crimes. We do this through:

A confiscation order can be made by the Crown Court to deprive criminals of the benefit from their crimes. If it is proven that a criminal has committed an acquisitive crime (i.e. theft) and they have benefited from that crime, then an accredited Financial Investigator can identify the value of any assets the criminal holds (bank accounts, houses, vehicles). This can then be used to pay back the amount they are said to have benefited from their crime, even if the assets are legally held.

If the application for a confiscation order is successful, criminals have a specified number of days, weeks, months to pay the full amount or be subject to a prison sentence.

A forfeiture order can also be made against a person at Magistrates Court using the Proceeds of Crime Act. This is only made against cash which is believed to be the proceeds of crime or intended for use in crime. An order can be made even if someone has not been charged or convicted of criminal offence.

A forfeiture order immediately deprives the defendant of title, whereas a confiscation order is only an order to pay a sum of money and is enforced as if it were a fine. If confiscation is invoked the court will not usually be able to make a forfeiture order.

The benefits of the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA)

  • It removes criminal assets from our county that could be used to generate more crime
  • Crime is likely to fall as criminals stripped of their assets risk future confiscations if they return to their old ways
  • It stifles criminal activity and sends a clear message to everyone including criminals that crime does not pay
  • It reduces the iconic status of criminals and crime

Financial investigation using the Proceeds of Crime Act allows the police and law enforcement agencies to combat a very wide range of criminality, including:

  • Drug trafficking
  • Money laundering
  • Terrorism
  • People trafficking
  • Arms trafficking
  • Counterfeiting
  • Blackmail
  • Armed robbery
  • Fraud.

Help tackle organised crime in your area

Most people work hard to get where they are in life, while others prey on vulnerable people bringing misery to communities and profiting from fear.

These are people that live in your neighbourhood, maybe even next door to you. They’re affecting the community, ruining people’s lives and causing anxiety through their actions.

Communities are being asked to help tackle organised crime by letting the police know about those people in the community who live an extravagant life style with no obvious means of funding it.

With help from Cheshire residents, criminals can not only be prosecuted for the crimes they commit, but the money they make or the things they buy using profits from illegal activities can also be confiscated by the courts.

Report it

There’s always someone you can speak to. You can contact Cheshire Police on 101 or alternatively, if you do not want to talk to us direct, ring Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, where you can give your information anonymously.

“What I can assure you is that we will take every report seriously and we will feed back to you what we have done. You will see the action we take in result of the information that you have given us.”

- Detective Superintendent Geraint Jones, Crime Operations