Organised criminal gangs exist to make money. In some instance this money will be reinvested in the purchase of further criminal commodities, however many organised criminals will also seek to live a lavish lifestyle. In order to allow criminally obtained money to appear as legitimate income it much be laundered.
Last year our law enforcement agencies removed £4.4 million worth of assets away from organised criminals under the Proceeds of Crime legislation. Criminal fear attacks on their profits more than any other law enforcement intervention which is why attacking criminal finances continues to be a key objective for all OCTF law enforcement partners.
The law enforcement agencies working in Northern Ireland have all increased their capacity to carry out financial investigations and the past year has seen a number of collaborative investigations. There are now a wide variety of options available to partner agencies under appropriate circumstances, including cash seizure, seizure of assets such as property and vehicles, and tax enforcement. By working in partnership, agencies can use all the legislation at their disposal to ensure organised criminals do not profit from their activities.
Prior to the devolution of justice in April 2010, the value of all assets (both civil and criminal) recovered in Northern Ireland under Proceeds of Crime legislation was remitted to the Home Office. The Home Office retained half of the value and returned the other half to the agencies responsible for its recovery under the Assets Recovery Incentivisation Scheme (ARIS) Since devolution, the full value of criminal confiscation recovered in Northern Ireland is returned to the Northern Ireland Consolidated Fund (NICF) and the Department of Justice (DoJ) distributes 50% to the agencies concerned, in accordance with established ARIS procedures and is working wtih the Department of Finance and Personnel to agree how the remaining 50% may be spent to support communites affected by crime and to reduce the fear of crime.
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