Edited by Barry Rider
Chapter 36: The pursuit of criminal property
Over the last few decades, increasing attention has been paid not only to prosecuting those who commit crimes but also to depriving them of the proceeds of those crimes. In the United Kingdom, a key policy document was the Report of the Cabinet Office’s Performance and Innovation Unit, ‘Recovering the Proceeds of Crime’, published in June 2000. This discussed why the British Government felt that asset recovery was important before setting out how this was to be achieved, paving the way for the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Although certain forms of recovery of criminal property were already in place in the United Kingdom, the 2002 Act both extended these forms, including the introduction of civil proceedings, and brought all the provisions under one piece of legislation, ending the divide that had existed up to then between drug trafficking and all other forms of crime. There are clear reasons why the removal of criminal property is important, above and beyond the mere fact that international instruments now demand it. One is the commonly stated argument that since certain crimes are committed in order to make money, if conviction will result not only in a prison sentence but also removal of the proceeds, then the motivation will be removed. In itself, this is questionable: almost 30 years after severe measures were first introduced in the United Kingdom to remove property linked to drug trafficking, the incidence of drug trafficking remains high.
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