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Commissioner Baird Welcomes Shadow Home Secretary’s Commitment

21st May 2014

Northumbria’s Police & Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird QC has today welcomed the announcement by Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper MP, that a future Labour government will give law enforcement agencies new powers to force criminals to handover the profits of their criminal activity. Mrs Baird has been campaigning on this issue for over a year, urging the government to take action and return all money to the communities from where it came.

Under the current system, only 26p of every £100 of criminal proceeds ever gets confiscated. Ms Cooper has set out a reform package to ensure assets are reclaimed and put to good use. A Labour government will –

  • End early release for criminals in jail for refusing to pay.
  • Make it easier for prosecutors to freeze suspects’ assets quickly, to prevent illegal profits from being hidden.
  • Close loopholes that allow criminals to hide their assets with family members.

Mrs Baird said “I’ve been a strong advocate for such powers, along with West Yorkshire PCC, Mark Burns Williamson and I am delighted that Yvette Cooper has stepped up to the mark to give a commitment to deliver this radical programme that will see profits from criminal activity re-invested into neighbourhood policing and criminal justice. This funding would make a real difference in Northumbria as it will allow us to put more officers in to communities to keep residents safe”.

The National Audit Office report (Confiscation Orders – December 17 2013) revealed that in 2012 /13, the total value of income collected from Confiscation Orders was £133 million – only slightly more than the annual cost of administering the entire system (£102).

Mrs Baird added “The Government needs to get smarter when recovering money – to spend as much collecting it as you make is ludicrous. This funding will be invaluable to police forces and it will be put to good use. Agencies need to act quickly to restrain assets to ensure the maximum amount is secured. The economy is still very fragile, so finding innovative ways of funding for the police to deliver more with less is crucial. If by working in partnership we can secure additional revenue to plough back into neighbourhood policing – it has my support”