A campaign for West Yorkshire Police to retain all the money it seizes from criminals has been stepped up after a thieving Leeds postal worker was ordered to pay back more than £17,000.
Royal Mail boss Paul Surtees, of Dunlop Avenue, Wortley, was jailed for 16 months in August for stealing £20,000 worth of high-value parcels while working at the Leeds Mail Centre in “revenge” for being made redundant.
As reported on Friday, a judge has now ordered the 49-year-old to pay back £17,602 of criminal cash following a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) hearing.
Under current rules, half that money will be retained by West Yorkshire Police, but half will go into government coffers.
West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson wants forces to keep all the money they seize under POCA.
He said Surtees’ case showed the potential benefits a change in the law would bring about.
“Cases like these highlight the considerable amount of money we can potentially recover from crimes such as this and which could be used to the benefit of local people and police,” he said.
“West Yorkshire Police has an excellent track record in recovering the ill-gotten gains of criminals, but currently only a relatively small proportion of the amounts recovered finds its way back here. As a matter of principle that can’t be right.”
Mr Burns-Williamson has already met with the policing minister, Damian Green, to propose ways to close loopholes exploited by criminals to avoid their assets being seized.
It is believed that more than £1million of inaccessible illegal cash is currently sitting in bank accounts across West Yorkshire.
To support his campaign, he had also launched an online petition.
He added: “We need many signatures to get ministers to sit up and take note.”
Visit http://action.westyorkshire-pcc.gov.uk/page/s/giveusbackallthemoney to support the campaign.