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Proceeds of crime …

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18 May 2012

As well as writing to Ministers at their Government departments, and asking questions in the House of Commons, Members of Parliament can submit written questions to Ministers. I often table these questions as they are a great tool for MPs to obtain detailed information on policies and statistics on the activities of Government departments.

I recently tabled a series of questions on the proceeds of crime after meeting with local Lewisham resident Tom Mann from CURV (Communities Understanding and Reducing Violence). At the meeting we discussed what happens to the proceeds of crime recovered by the Police, and what organisations that money is pooled back into. In particular, Tom mentioned the Community Cashback Scheme which was piloted by the last government to give local people a say in how recovered criminal assets should be distributed in local communities.

After the meeting, I did some research on provisions of the Proceeds of Crime Act and into the workings of the Community Cashback Scheme. I was concerned that there seems to be little transparency in what happens to this money, and how it is used, and so tabled the following questions to the Secretary of State for Justice (see herehere and here).

These figures raise questions about whether this money is being put to the best possible use. In particular, it seems a total of £157million has been generated from the proceeds of crime and more than half of that goes straight to the Home Office. It is unclear what this money is used for.

Only a small amount of money, just £2.4million, goes to local authorities – it seems to me that they may be better placed to use the money for the good of the community to tackle the issues behind the causes of crime, especially if it was directed towards some of the excellent voluntary and community initiatives that already exist but often struggle for funds.

I’ll be asking more questions of the Home Office to find out exactly where this money goes. For those interested in other written questions I table, you can view the recent answers I have received from Ministers here.

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