Police seize more than £300,000 from criminals

TAYSIDE Police has seized more than £300,000 from criminals over the last year to divert into community projects.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the force’s financial intelligence unit can confiscate the profits made by criminals in the form of assets they have acquired including houses, cars and other goods as well as cash, over £1000, which is suspected of being the proceeds of crime or is to be used to commit crime.

In 2010 more than £210,000 cash was seized along with assets of over £100,000 from criminals.

More than £100,000 alone came from a high profile Angus drugs case in July.

An asset confiscation order for £106,000 was granted at Forfar Sheriff Court against Perth man Calum Menzies (47).

In January, 2009, Menzies was convicted of producing cannabis worth more than £106,000 in a former church which he owned in Forfar. Following his conviction the financial intelligence unit investigated assets Menzies had accumulated as a result of drug dealing which resulted in the confiscation order being granted.

The Proceeds of Crime Act can also be used to immediately seize cash from suspected criminals where it is found by police in suspicious circumstances.

This has the added advantage of removing the money from criminals’ hands and disrupting their business.

Funds seized from criminals is channelled into a central fund where it is redistributed through the Cash Back for Communities initiative, which supports a range of charities and community projects across Tayside.

Inspector Jane Donaldson, of the force’s financial intelligence unit, said Tayside Police is committed to tackling serious and organised crime and the effects that it causes in local communities.

She continued: “There are criminals in our communities who lead a lavish lifestyle above that afforded by law abiding citizens and the Proceeds of Crime Act allows us to take their money and also confiscate any assets.

“We will use all means available to us and with the support of our partners including HMRC and Department of Work and Pensions we will exploit every opportunity to remove the profits from criminals.

“Not only do we take the profits away from the criminals we can also give the money back to our communities. There is also a new Cashback for Communities anti violence fund which has £500,000 in the pot and is to fund a series of anti-violence diversionary projects designed to engage young people in areas with high instances of knife crime or focus resources in areas where violence has been identified as an issue and/or a local priority. It is also to support young people who are currently involved or at risk of becoming involved in violence.”

Anyone with information about serious and organised crime can contact Tayside Police on 0300 111 2222 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.