HC Deb 17 September 2004 vol 424 cc1913-4W
Mr. Challen

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assets have been recovered under the terms of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002; and how these proceeds have been disbursed since the Act came into force, broken down by region. [189466]

Caroline Flint

In 2002–03, the last year for which full data are available, a record amount of criminal assets was recovered, under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and earlier legislation, totalling £47 million.

Receipts from recovered criminal assets are allocated to a range of initiatives. The Recovered Assets Incentive Fund was set up last financial year to incentivise asset recovery by asset recovery agencies, including law enforcement and prosecuting authorities. £15.5 million a year for three years has been allocated to the Fund. These sums have been fully committed over the three year period to projects, agreed by the Association of Chief Police Officers and others, that will increase the confiscation of criminal assets.

Of £46.5 million that will be available under the Fund over three years, up to £12 million a year has been allocated to set up four new multi-agency Regional Asset Recovery Teams (RARTs) to disrupt organised crime groups, confiscate more criminal assets and to tackle money laundering. A successful pilot in the West Midlands has been rolled out to the North West, North East, Wales and London. The teams comprise staff from the police, National Crime Squad, Her Majesty's Customs and Excise, National Criminal Intelligence Service, Crown Prosecution Service, Assets Recovery Agency and the Inland Revenue.

An additional seven million a year for three years has been made available separately from the Recovered Assets Incentive Fund for community based projects. Last year four million of the total available was allocated to the Adventure Capital Fund to regenerate communities across England. The remaining three million was allocated to regional government offices, of which £1.5 million funded anti-gun crime initiatives and £1.5 million funded capacity building in crime and disorder reduction partnerships, seven million available this year, three million has been committed to funding a community justice centre pilot scheme in Liverpool; two million to fund support services for victims of crime in England and Wales; and two million to fund new and existing projects to tackle gun crime in England and Wales.

A new police incentivisation scheme introduced this year will enable police forces in England and Wales, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, to receive a share of the criminal assets they recover locally, in the following year. Separate arrangements exist in Scotland. The scheme has the full support of the Association of Chief Police Officers in England and Wales. Police forces will benefit by receiving a third of all the recovered assets above £40 million in 2004–05, increasing to half for 2005–06. There will be no restrictions on how the police should spend this money so there may be scope in the future for them to devote some of the funds to community-based projects aimed at crime reduction.

For 2006–07 onwards, we are working up a new incentive scheme under which all agencies involved in asset recovery will, where possible, be able to get back 50 per cent. of the assets they recover.