Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Criminals Stripped of Pounds 1m Assets

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Criminals Stripped of Pounds 1m Assets

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Haworth

Cash clawed back through the courts from major players in Teesside's criminal underworld is set to hit pounds 1m a year for the first time.

Teesside's law enforcement agencies are using the Proceeds of Crime Act to get back ill-gotten gains from criminals.

Top drug dealers in particular are having the fruits of their labours stripped by the legal system and ploughed into the public purse.

Mansions, sports cars and bundles of cash found under floorboards and buried in gardens have all been taken from Teesside's convicted crooks.

Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have been working together to use the Proceeds of Crime Act since it came into force in 2003.

Since April last year pounds 938,041 is due for recovery thanks to 31 confiscation orders made on Teesside. With seven weeks of the financial year remaining this figure is set to top pounds 1m.

This includes large-scale orders against drug dealers like heroin kingpin Tariq Mahmood, from Park Road, Stockton, who was hit with a pounds 300,000 confiscation order.

Norman Lawson, a lawyer for the CPS on Cleveland and its Proceeds of Crime Champion, said: "The Proceeds of Crime Act is an excellent piece of legislation in the fight against crime.

"It is extremely effective in taking away the property and the money obtained by criminals."

Stripping assets from criminals starts with the police.

If they think a criminal has profited substantially from crime a restriction order can be placed on their properties and assets to stop them from being sold.

Once they are convicted the police and CPS apply for the confiscation order at court.

Those who refuse to pay may have to serve a longer term. The confiscation order remains until the required amount is recovered.

Twelve homes on Teesside are currently "under restraint".

All the money recovered by the North-east Asset Recovery Team goes back into the general public purse. …

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