HC Deb 19 June 2003 vol 407 cc15-6WS
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Caroline Flint)

I am pleased to announce that the first annual report of the appointed person under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 has been laid before Parliament. The appointed person is an independent person who scrutinises the use of the new search power introduced to support the scheme to seize and forfeit criminal cash.

The report gives the appointed person's opinion as to the circumstances and manner in which the search powers conferred by the Act are being exercised. I am pleased that the appointed person, Andrew Clarke, has expressed satisfaction at the operation of the search power in its first three months.

Over £12½ million had been seized under the scheme by the end of March. While most of the cash was discovered when police and customs officers were conducting searches under other legislation, it is significant and very good news that over £2 million was found and seized as a direct result of this new search power. The power is a welcome addition in the fight against crime and the report shows that its operation has been, and will continue to be, closely monitored.