Stepping up the fight against crime
28 Jan 2008 10:39 AM
A proportion of the money recovered from serious organised criminals is to be used to increase the size of two crack units within the Crown Office to help seize even more of the proceeds of crime.
Around £400,000 is to be used in 2008/09 to recruit additional forensic accountants, investigators and lawyers to increase the size of the Civil Recovery Unit and the National Casework Division.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said that using some proceeds of crime money in this way would create 'a virtuous circle to tackle immoral trade like drugs and people trafficking'.
Since the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 was implemented over £17 million has been recovered from criminal activity in Scotland.
In a further move to hurt criminals in the pocket, the Scottish Government also intends to add a significant number of new offences indicating a criminal lifestyle to the Proceeds of Crime Act. These will include bribery and corruption, distribution of child and extreme pornography, and breaches of the Private Security Act.
Speaking in advance of the second meeting of the Serious Organised CrimeTaskforce, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:
"By bringing together specialist crime fighting expertise, skills and knowledge in the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce, this Government has signalled its determination to ensure that there is no hiding place for organised criminals in Scotland.
"We have already made clear our commitment to step up the fight against these criminals who are a real menace in our society.
"The Civil Recovery Unit and National Casework Division are vital weapons in the fight against organised crime. How fitting then to use some of these criminals' own assets to further increase our capability to disrupt crime and recover even more of the proceeds of crime.
"It's a win, win situation for the law abiding many - and galling for the parasites of serious crime. A virtuous circle within criminal justice to tackle the immoral trading in drugs and people trafficking that symbolise serious crime's contempt for our society.
"Additional expertise such as forensic accountancy will make it increasingly difficult for organised criminals to hide their money in the legitimate businesses they set up to launder their ill gotten gains.
"As a further weapon in the fight against organised crime, we want to also extend the range of criminal lifestyle offences that will come under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
"Organised crime is not about drugs and trafficking. Its tentacles stretch to crimes such as fraud, pornography and also using legitimate businesses as fronts for money laundering.
"By extending the range of offences indicative of a criminal lifestyle, we want to ensure that organised criminals, involved in many different types of crimes, feel the full force of the law."
For the first time some of the money recovered by the Civil Recovery Unit and National Casework Division will be returned to them to help recover even more assets.
Schedule four of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 sets out a list of offences that are indicative of a criminal lifestyle. Scottish Ministers can amend the Schedule by way of an Order in the Scottish Parliament.
The new measures against organised crime are expected to be endorsed by the Serious Organised Crime Taskforce at its second meeting tomorrow (Monday 28 January).
The Serious Organised Crime Taskforce was set up by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and brings together key organisations involved in the fight against organised crime including the Crown Office, ACPOS, SCDEA, the Serious Organised Crime Agency, Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs and the Scottish Prison Service amongst others.