Criminal cash and assets seized by Lancashire police at record low

Lancashire Constabulary collected proceeds of crime worth 1.3m in 2018-19
Lancashire Constabulary collected proceeds of crime worth 1.3m in 2018-19

Police in Lancashire recovered the smallest haul of criminal cash and assets last year since records began.

Lancashire Constabulary collected proceeds of crime worth £1.3m in 2018-19, according to the latest Home Office data, which includes dirty money, goods and property.

Of this, £925,000 – 71 per cent – came from confiscation orders, which take place following a criminal conviction but will be started before sentencing.

The remainder came from powers to seize cash in civil proceedings.

The haul was far lower than the value seized when records began in 2013-14, when officers recovered £1.9m.

Just under £217m was collected by police forces, councils and government agencies across England, Wales and Northern Ireland using powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act – up 21 per cent over the five-year period.

Dirty cash forfeited in civil proceedings accounted for a record £51m, with a further £166m confiscated following criminal convictions.

Since 2013, they have taken more than £1bn out of criminals' hands.

Security minister Brandon Lewis credited the Government with "having a real impact" on stripping crooks of their "ill-gotten gains".

He said: "This money is being ploughed back into law enforcement work and compensating victims. Last year, victims were paid £36m – which was a 27 per cent increase on 2013-14.

"The new National Economic Crime Centre is harnessing intelligence and capabilities across the public and private sectors to bring people to justice.

"And our asset recovery action plan makes plain our ambition to improve these figures further and claw back even more dirty money."

Tougher anti-corruption measures came into force last year to stem the tide of laundered cash flooding the UK.

They include Unexplained Wealth Orders, demanding a person or company explain where their money came from, and powers to freeze funds.

To date, 15 UWOs have been granted for property with a total value estimated at just over £143m.

In 2018-19, £110m was frozen in over 670 bank and building society accounts.

A National Police Chiefs' Council spokesman said: "Police forces prioritise crimes of the highest threat, risk and harm, and we have been using our powers to increase our seizure of the assets of serious criminals."