Wiltshire Police seizes hundreds of thousands of pounds from criminals – as fraud recoveries surge
By Jamie Hill - 20 September 2023
Wiltshire Police seized hundreds of thousands of pounds in assets and money from criminals in the year to March, new figures show.
Police forces can recover the proceeds of crime through confiscation and forfeiture orders, which require those found guilty to pay a fine, or give the police the power to seize assets from them.
These proceeds are then used to tackle crime, or are returned to victims.
Home Office figures show around £480,000 was seized by Wiltshire Police last year in the year to March – a rise from £446,000 in 2021-22.
Across England, Wales and Northern Ireland the total value of assets recovered was around £339 million – a 5% drop from the year before.
A large proportion of this was from fraud cases – the Serious Fraud Office was responsible for almost £103m in confiscation and forfeiture orders, slightly more than the £102m recovered by all local police forces combined.
It is unclear whether this is from a larger volume of fraud cases, or from the crime being dealt with more effectively.
In May, the Government launched a three-year fraud strategy, which included measures to prevent financial cold calling, and gives enforcement agencies greater powers to tackle cryptocurrency scams.
Law enforcement bodies also receive funding based on the value of assets they have seized – local police forces received nearly £49 million in the last financial year through the scheme, £132,000 of which went to Wiltshire Police.
However, from the £179 million recovered through confiscation orders, less than £16 million was paid back as compensation to victims – the lowest level in at least five years.
Nearly £11 million of this was for victims of fraud.
A Home Office spokesperson said: "This Government is fully committed to ensuring the full force of the law is used to deprive criminals of their ill-gotten gains and the confiscated assets given as compensation to innocent victims.
"Over the past six financial years £1.6 billion has been recovered in criminal assets, including nearly £340 million during the past year, and we continue to work at pace to improve our asset recovery regime to recover more criminal funds," they added.