WEST Midlands Police (WMP) has recovered almost £2 million of ‘dirty money’ – proving crime does not pay.
The cash has been paid back under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) which gives police forces the power to seize assets or money from crooks that is believed to have been accrued through criminality.
Working alongside the Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU), WMP recovered a total of £1,929,195 from 96 offenders between the start of April and December 2016.
The confiscated or forfeited money will now be ploughed into the force’s Active Citizens Fund and crime prevention and community projects.
DS Paddy Gillece, from Force CID economic crime unit, said: “Just because a criminal has been sentenced, it does not mean it’s the end of our investigation.
“We will always seek to prevent criminals benefitting from ill-gotten gains and look to claw back their ’dirty money’ through the courts.
“By taking away the profits we can break the cycle of criminal behaviour and those who don’t pay back the money can face extra time behind bars.
“The money we have recovered already should serve as a stark reminder that crime doesn’t pay.”
One of those stripped of crime cash is Birmingham man Ashley Nathaniel Wilkin who officers initially stopped for a minor traffic offence – but who was later found to be running a drugs network.
The 30-year-old was jailed for three-and-a-half years and a POCA investigation concluded in October last year when a judge ordered him to pay back £109,000.
Other examples have included a Vietnamese cannabis grower forced to hand back more than £18,000 and a man who stole money from gambling machines having to return £42,000.
West Midlands Police & Crime Commissioner David Jamieson added: “There’s a real sense of justice with the Active Citizens Fund: it sees ill-gotten gains stripped from criminals and then used for good in our communities.
“The seizure of almost £2 million is an excellent result by West Midlands Police and that money will transform neighbourhoods.
“From after-school sports clubs to computer classes and more, this dirty money will be used to clean up communities.”