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West Midlands Police boss Bob Jones makes demand on cash seized from crooks

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

Not enough of the money seized by police from criminals in the West Midlands is finding its way back into our communities, according to the region's Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones.

His comments come as it emerged that the amount of cash returned to West Midlands Policeunder the Proceeds Of Crime Act is set to increase for the fourth year running.

Since the Act came into force in 2002, the ill-gotten gains of convicted criminals is collected by the Home Office and a proportion of it is returned to the agencies that recovered it.

In the last financial year WMP received £1.9 million, of which £300,000 was put into community projects aimed at preventing crime.

The remaining £1.6m has been used to drive up performance on asset recovery.

The figure is set to be eclipsed this year after the force announced it had received £1.3m in just six months, but only a small proportion of it is expected to be channelled back into community projects.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Bob Jones said he wanted to see more of the cash put back into the community. He said: "Not only does the Act allow us to deny the criminal network access to money, but it also gives us significant amounts of money to reinvest in the community.

"But we have to find a balance between community issues which help to prevent crime and improving the ways we seize criminals' funds.

"There is no doubt in my mind I would like to see a greater proportion of the money we receive back from the home office directed into supporting the work we do in the communities."

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Currently 50 per cent of any proceeds seized by West Midlands Police following conviction are held by the Government, with the remaining money split between the courts, the CPS and the force.

Cash obtained through a civil case in magistrates court is split equally between the force and the Government.

Of the £1.9m from the Home Office last year, less than 16 per cent was allocated to community schemes.

Those benefiting included former boxer Wayne Elcock's Box Clever scheme in Wolverhampton which received £5,000 and Retail Radio in Dudley which received £13,487.50.

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The remaining £1.6m has been spent on improving asset collection.

Chief Constable of West Midlands Police, Chris Sims, said: "We are open to looking at different ways the money can be distributed, but our absolute priority is harming criminal networks."

Officers can recover criminals' assets after they have been sentenced at court under the Asset Recovery Incentivisation Scheme.

If it is proved their assets came from criminal activities, they are given a certain length of time to pay back the money or face a longer stint in jail while still owing the money.

Last year's figures include a proportion of £1.3m seized from the home of 56-year-old Phillip Hartill, in Highley near Bridgnorth – the biggest cash forfeiture the force has ever achieved.

In January the force raised £200,000 when goods belonging to Solihull conman Tommy Scragg were put up for auction.

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