Mick Creedon, the former Chief Constable of Derbyshire Constabulary, believes the use of Unexplained Wealth Orders in the UK is to be welcomed. However, their real benefit will emerge when they’re used against low-level criminals who seriously damage local communities.

The ability to investigate and attack criminal finances in the UK was transformed through the 2002 Proceeds of Crime Act which created a set of powers specifically designed to deny and remove criminal capital. The measures involved included cash forfeiture, confiscation, taxation and civil recovery.

Since then, over £1 billion has been recovered through forfeiture and confiscation and far more denied by way of a range of powers, including those enshrined within the Proceeds of Crime Act. Nevertheless, across the country, police officers, other law enforcement partners and communities continue to witness individuals with clear and unexplained wealth. For those charged with investigating the criminal element, some of those individuals with lavish lifestyles, but no apparent or proven connection to crime, sit below the radar and remain largely unchallenged. They can become negative role models glamourising a life of crime in their local community.

As the national policing lead for organised crime, financial investigation and asset recovery for over a decade, I had long argued the case that the civil powers within the Proceeds of Crime Act were overly complicated and, at times, had been subject to ferocious legal challenge by the wealthy seeking to defend their assets. Civil powers were not being routinely used by law enforcement and hadn’t realised the impact intended in the legislation.

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