Criminals hit with £10.5m bill
Criminals in West Yorkshire living off their ill-gotten gains were hit with a record breaking bill of nearly £10.5 million last year.
The money was seized by West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime teams, and has helped compensate victims, benefit worthy community causes, and support operational policing priorities.
Over the last financial year (April to March) the Force has clawed back a total of £10,435,799.51 from criminals – the highest amount ever achieved in any one year. Of that £5,180,584.58 is Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) money. Some of that money seized has then been made available to the Force and Police and Crime Commissioner to reinvest back into the community.
And £5,215,918 went directly back to victims – usually people or organisations defrauded out of money.
It is part of Programme Precision - launched in early 2019, it seeks to make the fight against serious and organised crime a police and partnership responsibility, and has helped to focus and coordinate activity across the four areas of the Government strategy – Pursue, Protect, Prepare and Prevent.
Det Chief Supt Pat Twiggs, Head of Crime for WYP, said: “I am immensely proud of the work and contribution by all staff involved to remove the ill-gotten gains from criminals who don’t stop to think about the impact their greed has on victims or the wider community.
“We regularly speak to victims who have been conned out of their money by criminals who are often known to them or who manage to become involved in their personal lives. Being the victim of a crime can been an incredibly distressing time for a victim but we are at least bringing some resolution to them.
“The money has been seized from criminals operating across the spectrum of criminality – including those involved in serious and organised crime and others who defraud their victims out of cash.
“We often see criminals are prepared to receive a custodial sentence, and see time inside as an ‘occupational hazard’ but when it comes to paying their ill-gotten gains back are far more likely to protest. Removing a criminal’s money and property really does hurt them. West Yorkshire Police’s commitment to asset denial and recovery should act as a very real deterrent to those motivated to commit crime for financial gain.
“Our dedicated staff will stop at nothing in their relentless pursuit and recovery of criminal assets, and that is shown in the results across the Force.”
Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said: “This is a great result by West Yorkshire Police and specifically the Economic Crime teams. I know just how hard these dedicated teams work across West Yorkshire to ensure crime doesn’t pay and they have my sincere thanks, and I’m sure the appreciation of the wider public in achieving these results.
“Their significant efforts have meant that victims of crime have had their money returned, and my Safer Communities Fund (SCF) which is fully financed through POCA has had crucial money available to give to good causes and projects addressing crime and community safety across West Yorkshire.
“Since I launched the fund in 2014, which was a key commitment following my election in 2012, it has now given out grants totalling nearly £3m to around 700 organisations working to tackle crime and anti-social behaviour, protect the vulnerable and support victims. It’s a testament to the great work of the police and prosecutors that so many communities will continue to benefit in this way.”