Birmingham & Black Country

West Midlands Police hire ex bank staff to track down drugs cash

The team
Image caption The team is made up of three financial investigators and an intelligence analyst

Former bank workers have been recruited to help seize cash from drug gangs, in a scheme paid for by money that has already been confiscated.

It is estimated £188m is made from drug dealing in the West Midlands each year, the region's police and crime commissioner's office said.

The two-year project is aiming "to take away the profits from the kingpins".

It is being funded through the Proceeds of Crime Act and, if successful, will be expanded, the spokesman added.

The new team is made up of three financial investigators, hired from the banking sector, and an intelligence analyst.

They are expected to focus on identifying money and other assets that gangs and organised criminals have attempted to launder.

Image caption Jenny Birch, head of economic crime unit, said the team would chase offenders that are "driven solely by financial gains"

Depending on the type of powers used under the Proceeds of Crime Act, West Midlands Police said it received between 18% and 50% of the assets, with the Home Office and other agencies receiving the rest.

However, the PCC's office said staff cuts meant the total amount of cash and assets seized by the force had fallen by 95% over the past seven years.

Jenny Birch, head of the force's economic crime unit said: "The offenders we will be focussing on are driven solely by financial gains.

"They have no regard for the social or health impact they have on individuals or wider communities that they flood with their drugs. Seizing this money will allow us to undo some of the harm they have caused and end their profiteering."

As well as paying for the team, additional money seized will go towards funding drug support services in the region.

"It would seem to be apt that those who have profited from selling drugs will now be funding treatment for the people they have harmed," West Midlands Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner, Ashley Bertie said.

Follow BBC West Midlands on Facebook, on Twitter, and sign up for local news updates direct to your phone.

Related Internet links

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