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Cashback from crooks as millions in seized assets to be paid back to communities

Cashback from crooks as millions in seized assets to be paid back to communities

News Release issued by the Government News Network on 26 June 2009

The £4 million Community Cashback scheme will be funded by money and assets seized from wealthy criminal kingpins. The public will be able to choose which worthwhile community projects are funded by feeding in their views to a new dedicated website, neighbourhood policing meetings or through Citizens Panels.

Successful bids will have to show how the local community has been involved in selecting the project, demonstrate good value for money and be related in some way to tackling antisocial or criminal behaviour locally. This could include renovating a vandalised play area, investing in a youth centre or installing security measures on a housing estate.

Until now money recovered from criminals has been split between frontline services, such as the police and Government departments involved with the criminal justice system. This is the first time a portion of that money is being paid back into communities.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:

“The Community Cashback fund will ensure a portion of the ill-gotten gains of criminals are ploughed back into communities at a grassroots level, funding the projects that the public decide will make the most positive difference to their lives.

“Seizing capital assets deprives criminals of money, reduces the incentive for crime and promotes fairness and confidence in the criminal justice system. But schemes like the Community Cashback fund are only successful if people use them. We are giving local people a stronger voice - I hope they will use it.”

The Government's Crime and Justice Adviser Louise Casey said:

“It is only right that the public should have a say on how cash from criminals is spent in their community. This sends a strong message to the public that the criminal justice system cares about what they think and is on their side. This in turn might encourage more members of the public to help in the fight against crime - to pick up the phone to report a crime, stand up in court to give evidence and support others to do the same.

“Today’s announcement follows the successful results of a vote on Community Payback schemes that we publicised last week – a total of 18,000 people across the country nominated what work offenders should do to make amends for their crimes.

“The message behind Community Cashback and Community Payback is simple; the public must have a stronger voice in the criminal justice system. After all, it operates on their behalf and must have their backing.”

Justice Secretary, Jack Straw said:

“I want people to have full confidence in the justice system and an important part of this is ensuring that justice is done and seen to be done. The Community Cashback fund represents another step forward in what is a fundamental shift towards giving communities more of a say in how justice is delivered in their local neighbourhood.

“We have already made major improvements in this area from the Community Payback scheme, Citizens Panels and introducing the role of Community Prosecutors. Today’s announcement is the next step in increasing the influence of local people in delivering justice in their villages, towns and cities.”

Home Office figures, also published today, show the value of assets recovered from criminals this year has risen to an all time high of £148 million for 08/09. This is up from last year’s £136 million.

The figures also show that a total £23.6 million recovered between January and April 2009 will be paid back to frontline services, with a total £7million to be shared between all police forces in England and Wales.

The Community Cashback Fund is a pilot scheme for 09/10 - a decision will be made later in the financial year on how best to take this commitment forward.

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The Community Cashback Website will launch at 00.01 26 June and can be found at http://cashback.cjsonline.gov.uk

2. The fund from criminal assets is being taken out of money usually allocated to the Home Office (£2m); Ministry of Justice/HMCS (£0.5m); HMRC/ACPO/SOCA (£0.75m); AGO/CPS/RCPO/SFO (£0.75m)

3. Each Local Criminal Justice Board will able to submit bids up to a total value of £95,000.

4. A list of all LCJBs across the country can be found at http://lcjb.cjsonline.gov.uk/

5. Details of Citizens Panels can be found at http://www.justice.gov.uk/news/newsrelease290908a.htm

6. Criminal Justice and Treasury Ministers have previously agreed that communities should be given more control in how asset recovery money is spent locally. This commitment was set out in the Engaging Communities in Criminal Justice Green Paper (published on 29 April 2009).

7. Asset recovery figures for the 08/09, including a regional breakdown of what each police force is receiving, can be found on the Home Office website www.homeoffice.gov.uk

8. For further information please contact David Langton in the Home Office Press Office on 020 7035 3835 or david.langton@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

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