The fact that the Proceeds of Crime Act is a constant feature in news articles and local newspapers indicates that it is having some impact. Preferably the threat of having money confiscated from you would be enough to make some offenders change their ways, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. However, the fact that so many people are finding that they don’t get to feel the benefit of their gains has to be seen as a positive thing. No matter when you look at news stories and court findings, you will find that POCA and confiscation orders remain the order of the day.
One man who was found with more than £60,000 worth of drugs in his possession and who had a stash of weapons and ammunition in his home will be subject to a proceeds of crime act. This will see £14,650 seized from him, which will go on top of the 9 years and four months prison sentence he received. Paul Donnell was found with five handguns, bullets and a rifle alongside sizable amounts of heroin and cocaine in his property in September of 2013. The best defence that Donnell could muster was that the items were only being held to facilitate a £70,000 drugs related debt. The High Court in Edinburgh decided that a confiscation order was needed and this will be money that Donnell will have to present to the courts.
POCA can hit money lenders in the pocket
Another example of POCA in action has come through a money lender having assets seized and confiscated. The man from Motherwell has previously been fined a sum of £750 for the crime of running a consumer credit firm without a licence for a 5 year period. It later came to light, after forensic examination and investigation, that there was a sum of close to £400,000 that could not be accounted for over a six year period for the time before his arrest. Under the rules of POCA, this provided the green light to serve a confiscation order, which was completed at a local sheriff court.
Illegal activities of all kinds are relevant to POCA
Another person that has suffered due to POCA is a woman who ran a brothel and she has been served with an order for just over £8,000. The 67 year old woman was detained back in August of 2011 after the police searched her property. After a conviction for running a brothel, the woman was ordered to undertake 200 hours of work that would not be paid in a community payback order. This sort of punishment is something that many people will agree with because it is good to see the community benefitting from this style of crime. However, investigation and analysis pinpointed the fact that the women benefited from her crimes and a confiscation order to seize £8,280 was granted.
The fact that POCA is being used to target a wide range of criminals and people who benefit from a variety of crimes has to be seen as a positive thing. While it is important to hit violent criminals or criminal gangs, there is also a need to ensure that all criminals are being hit where it hurts. There may be different levels of sympathy or consideration given to certain styles of crimes but when it comes to sorting out rights and wrongs, it is important that all measures and methods are being explored.
The fact that so many different criminals run the risk of losing large sums of money will surely act as deterrent for some people. There is no denying that a number of criminals have viewed prison as an occupational hazard but as long as the money was available for their loved ones and themselves upon their release, some people could live with the consequences of being arrested. This is changing and over time, it is likely that it will have an impact on some criminals. There will never be a situation where the risk of crime prevents every criminal from carrying out acts, that will never happen. However, with a growing realisation that POCA can take away everything or force you to hide cash so deeply that it cannot be used, there is no denying that things are changing or certain criminals in the modern era.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professional for 8 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.