England

Criminals in West Mercia police force area pay back £2m

More than £2m has been taken from criminals in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire in the past financial year.

The seizures were a combination of confiscation orders and cash forfeitures.

They were a result of West Mercia Police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the Court Service working together to enforce the Proceeds of Crime Act.

More than £250,000 has been returned to victims of crime, police said.

Confiscation proceedings are used when the court decides that a convicted criminal has a lifestyle funded by crime.

'Relieving distress'

An order is then made for the money to be paid back, even if it means selling assets such as cars and houses.

In the case of cash forfeitures, police can seize money if they have reasonable grounds to suspect it is the proceeds criminal activity and there is no legitimate explanation for having it.

Five conmen from Ludlow who were jailed after defrauding people of almost £2m in 2003 and 2004 were stripped of more than £982,000.

A drug dealer from Bromsgrove had to hand over assets of nearly £9,500 following a confiscation order in 2010.

And more than £130,000 was confiscated from a Worcester businessman who was selling illegal games console chips.

The supervisor of the Assets Recovery Unit at West Mercia Police, Stuart Duddell, said: "We are working hard and working closely with our partner agencies to target criminals in any was we can, not just through prosecutions but by targeting them where it hurts - in their pockets.

"Most importantly, we have been able to compensate some victims through the confiscation arena.

"We are pleased that we can do something to tip the balance back in favour of victims of crime.

"It is satisfying that our efforts go some way to relieve their distress at having been a victim of crime."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites