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Call for stronger powers on crime cash

Published: 21 Mar 2016 00:01
Part of:
Law and order

Tougher rules to claw back criminal gains.

The Justice Secretary has written to the Home Office outlining potential ways to strengthen the Proceeds of Crime legislation to make it tougher for criminals to avoid paying up.

The Scottish Government wants the police to be able seize items of monetary value from criminals, such as high value betting slips and casino chips.

The legislation has already achieved much but Ministers believe more can be done to make sure criminals can't stash their ill-gotten gains in ways that put them beyond the reach of the authorities.

Money seized through the Proceeds of Crime Act is reinvested in the CashBack for Communities programme, a unique Scottish Government initiative which reclaims cash to fund activities and opportunities in local communities.

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said:

"These stronger measures would see serious organised criminals hit harder in the pocket.

"It will put an end to criminals trying to dodge cash seizures by putting it into high value items such as betting slips.

"These changes have the potential to allow Scottish courts to seize more money from criminals and re-invest it back into local communities and fund facilities that stop young people getting involved in crime in the first place."

Working with the Home Office, the Scottish Government has steadily strengthened the Proceeds of Crime Act in Scotland, from increasing the tests that demonstrate someone has a criminal lifestyle, to removing the possibility of criminals being sent to jail rather than pay the money, and improving information sharing.

Background

As the legislation is reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government has written to the UK Government highlighting areas to be considered in future legislation.