Suffolk: Criminals forced to pay back �3m

CRIMINALS in Suffolk were ordered to pay back nearly �3million last year – a record amount almost equalling the total for the previous seven years.

Police believe the 128 court orders made in 2010/11 against drug dealers, fraudsters and thieves proves – for the vast majority at least – that crime does not pay.

When the Proceeds of Crime Act was implemented in 2003 it was hailed as a tough piece of legislation which would hit villains in the pocket. The orders made would remain with criminals throughout their lives or until the profit they made from their crimes was paid off.

Andy Gould, of Suffolk Constabulary’s financial investigation unit, said: “The Proceeds of Crime Act is a very powerful tool which gives us the opportunity to target and tackle criminals, and make them pay for their crimes.

“When the act was implemented in 2003, Suffolk police recognised its potential.

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“This was not only in terms of the opportunities it presented as a problem-solving tool across the investigation of a broad spectrum of offences, but also as a means of targeting individuals who caused the most harm.

“Eight years later, we have witnessed more than 600 Proceeds of Crime Act orders made by Suffolk courts with assets valued in excess of �6m either confiscated or forfeited.

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“Today, we can also boast that the use of our specialist financial investigators, allied to the legislation, is firmly embedded in our policing culture. This ensures those who we are able to demonstrate have assets of any type which are derived from crime – and in the case of cash, intended for use in some future crime – will be stripped of the very thing that motivated them to engage in their unlawful activities in the first instance.”

Last year’s biggest success was against four members of a family who were ordered to pay back more than �2m.

The settlement was the largest-ever Proceeds of Crime Act confiscation order for Suffolk Constabulary. It came after an inquiry into the Ponderosa scrapyard at Bridge End Road, Red Lodge, in 2008.

The two-acre site, which included a scrap-yard, house and outbuildings, took two days to search which resulted in the seizure of �735,000, including �475,000 in cash hidden in a holdall behind a bath panel, and in tins of chocolates.

Charges were brought against Robert McGivern, 41, his mother Bernadette McGivern, 71, her 79-year-old partner Noel Healy, and McGivern’s father Harold McGivern, 68, all of Bridge End Road, Red Lodge.

Robert McGivern was convicted at Ipswich Crown Court in 2009 of money laundering, fraud and handling stolen goods and was jailed for five-and-a-half years.

In September last year, a confiscation hearing ordered him to pay back �851,000.

In November 2009, Bernadette and Harold McGivern and Healy all admitted money laundering and were given suspended prison sentences.

In February, they returned to Ipswich Crown Court for a confiscation hearing in which Bernadette McGivern was ordered to repay �705,825, Healy was ordered to repay �375,900 and Harold McGivern was ordered to repay �118,273 making a total of �1.2m.

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