Convicted criminals across the region have been forced to repay over £2.25m in 2020 following work by specialist financial investigators from the Eastern Region Special Operation Unit (ERSOU).
Between January and the end of November, investigations led by ERSOU’s Regional Economic Crime Unit (RECU) into those convicted of crimes such as drug dealing and money laundering, among others, successfully led to £2,252,145 in money and assets being confiscated.
In addition, a further £1.3m in compensation was secured for victims who lost money through crime such as fraud.
Another £623,000 in cash, typically found by officers when searching suspects or undertaking warrants at locations where criminals are thought to operate, was successfully forfeited through court orders.
Other highlights across the region included:-
- Bedfordshire – Enquiries are continuing into more than £500,000 in cash seized as part of Operation Costello, following the National Crime Agency’s breaking of the Encrochat encrypted mobile phone network used for drug dealing and other high value crime.
- Cambridgeshire – A jailed drug dealer who helped sell cocaine and ecstasy was ordered to hand over assets worth £250,000 in July.
- Essex – In November, a man was handed a court order to repay money earned from producing and intending to sell prohibited drugs.
- Hertfordshire – A woman jailed for stealing from a company while working as its financial manager was ordered to sell her house to repay the money she stole in November.
- Kent – A man who stashed £630,000 in supermarket and sports bags at his Dartford home was been jailed and confiscation proceedings are ongoing.
- Norfolk – A woman jailed for defrauding the charity she worked for was ordered to repay over £120,000.
- Suffolk – In May, a cannabis producer was ordered to pay back more than £15,000.
Kathryn Holloway, Bedfordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner who leads the ERSOU governance board said: “Despite all the difficulties of remote working as a result of the pandemic, the relentless detectives and financial investigators of ERSOU have tenaciously pursued those who have benefitted from criminality across our region.
“Proof that they stick with a case to reclaim the proceeds of crime is the case of a subject who in 2007 was found guilty of selling counterfeit goods and received a confiscation order of £55,000. Revisiting the case 12 years later, the asset recovery team found he owned a property with enough equity to repay this in full. The judge increased the order by £43,000 adding a default sentence of 18 months in prison. This is a team that’s determined to drive home the message that, ultimately, crime won’t pay in this region,” said Commissioner Holloway.
In cases where individuals have been the victim of fraud, and where the team has been able to secure money back from the offenders who were responsible, this is often given straight back to the victim in compensation.
In situations where offenders do not pay back the money required as part of a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) court order, they face extended periods in jail and are still required to pay back the full amount.
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Detective Chief Inspector Simon Williams, head of the RECU, said: “Our teams have been working relentlessly throughout the year to pursue those we know have profited from illegal means, often through activity such as drug dealing which have far reaching consequences throughout our communities.
“POCA investigations can often be protracted and complex, but the dedication of our teams to take back the money acquired by criminals through causing misery demonstrates how just how committed we are to ensuring offenders pay the price for their actions, even if they’ve already been convicted.
“Even when offenders have spent the money on things such as gambling, the team work with those companies to secure whatever they can to compensate the victims.
“I’d like to thank everyone involved for their tenacity and hard work throughout this incredibly challenging year.”