COMMONS

Proceeds of crime inquiry launched

21 January 2016

The Home Affairs Committee is launching an inquiry into how effectively the measures introduced in the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, to deprive criminals of any benefit from their crimes, are working. In particular, the inquiry will assess the operation of confiscation orders, which are the main mechanism through which this policy is implemented.

Terms of reference

Written evidence is invited on the following issues:

  • Whether additional measures are required to achieve the objectives of ensuring criminals do not benefit from their crimes
  • The steps needed to improve the performance of the range of agencies involved in the confiscation order process – including how best to incentivise agencies to use them
  • Measures needed to address the lack of awareness of confiscation orders amongst staff in the relevant agencies, and of the associated enforcement processes
  • How best to address weaknesses in IT systems and data-sharing which are hampering effectiveness
  • Steps needed to strengthen coordination across the various agencies involved in confiscation orders, including whether one agency should be given lead responsibility
  • How to increase accountability and make performance measurement more meaningful
  • Further steps which may be necessary to address low enforcement rates, including toughening sanctions for non-payment
  • How investigations related to criminal benefit can be made more transparent
  • The implications for effectiveness of the complexity of the relevant legislation, and the benefits which an increased body of case law might bring

Chair's comments

The Chair of the Committee, Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, said:

"For too long, the authorities have been unable to retrieve the ill-gotten gains of organised crime and criminals, finding themselves hamstrung by loopholes in the system.
 
It has been revealed that the around half of those given confiscation orders by the Serious Fraud Office in the last three years have failed to pay, and millions of pounds are still owed by dozens of criminals.

This inquiry will focus on the flaws preventing the authorities from stamping down and retrieving these significant funds, which include the limited use of confiscation orders, and poor data-sharing and enforcement. It is high time that we stop 'Mr Bigs' benefiting from their victims."

Submitting written evidence

Written submissions for this inquiry should be submitted online, by midday on 25 February 2016.

Further information

Image: iStockphoto

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