Crime: West Yorkshire Police put squeeze on criminals’ cash

Police execute search warrants.

Police execute search warrants.

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A PIONEERING police operation is ensuring criminals’ illegal profits are being squeezed more tightly – to the benefit of communities they prey on.

Criminals who can easily pay confiscation orders without having to empty their bank accounts or sell any houses or cars are being targeted by police financial investigators.

In the last year, offenders have had to pay back an extra £300,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act – despite already paying a confiscation order.

West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit has revisited 13 confiscation orders and successfully secured extra orders.

The orders mean the criminal has to repay further proceeds of their crimes under the operation, code named Freshwater.

When a confiscation order is made, the total amount of a person’s criminal benefit is established, and then an order is made to pay what is available. This can be a lower amount than the criminal benefit.

By re-visiting these orders, police can discover if there are more available assets and if there are, it is up to the courts to decide whether they should be used pay more of the criminal benefit figure already established.

West Yorkshire Police has successfully obtained confiscation orders in excess of £4.1m since April 2010.

DCI Fran Naughton, Head of West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, said: “We are aware that some members of the public think it unfair when criminals have made hundreds of thousands of pounds from crime, but are only ordered to pay back a small proportion of it, but this is where Operation Freshwater comes in.”

In January, a 33-year-old Leeds man was ordered to pay an extra £99,015.59 by Leeds Crown Court.

He originally was subject to a confiscation order in 2005 after he was convicted of trademark offences.

He was ordered to pay back £2,391.35, from his total criminal benefit of £101,406.94.

An investigation revealed he was in possession of significant assets, including several houses in the UK.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, he has now been ordered to pay the extra available cash.

Hardwick Hall.

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