A regional police team has recovered more than £500,000 from criminals in the past five months.
The Eastern Region Asset Confiscation Enforcement (ACE) team which was launched in October last year, works with a number of law enforcement agencies to recover proceeds of crime from offenders.
Based within the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), the team works on behalf of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk forces and a number of partner agencies including TradingStandards and the Environment Agency.
Since April 2015 the ACE team has recovered £518,271 in funds which will be divided between victims of crime, the Home Office and forces within the region to fund the fight against crime and community-based projects.
The team regularly attend the Confiscation Enforcement Court based in Dover and work closely with HM Courts & Tribunals Service to assist with cases that have extended beyond payment deadlines. This joint working has improved the effectiveness of the court, saved valuable court time, and successfully concluded long-running cases.
The ACE team often work on complex cases where the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have obtained restraint orders that ‘freeze’ an individual’s assets and are engaged at an early stage to assist compliance.
In a recent case the ACE team, working in conjunction with a specialist prosecutor within the CPS, assisted the parents of a man serving a lengthy prison sentence for drug trafficking to resolve their son’s £250,000 confiscation order.
The ACE team was able to provide guidance and reassurance to the innocent couple who facilitated the sale of two restrained houses and other property on behalf of their son to satisfy his confiscation order in full.
Chief Inspector Chris Balmer said: “This landmark in enforcement of confiscation orders is excellent news for the public. Not only have criminals been parted from their nefariously-obtained possessions, but also that offenders who still owe money should now be looking over their shoulder as we are coming for them.
“The fact that police, CPS and HMCTS are now working together better than ever in a continually-developing partnership means the gap between confiscation and enforcement, previously exploited by prolific criminals, is narrowing all the time.”