Seized cash should be used for communities

Jonathan Arnott, the region’s local UKIP MEP, has thrown his weight behind calls for communities blighted by crime to receive all of the assets and cash seized from local criminals by councils

“I fully support the Local Government Association (LGA) in their demands for communities affected by crime to benefit from the assets seized from those responsible.

“At the moment councils get less than half the assets they recover from convicted crooks and the government keeps the rest,” said Mr Arnott, UKIP’s North-East Euro MP.

The LGA says that councils help recover an estimated £40 million in cash and assets fraudulently stolen by benefit fraudsters and rogue traders using powers under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 every year.

The money helps fund support and compensation for victims, crime prevention initiatives and further trading standards investigations into fraudsters and counterfeit goods. It also goes towards improving local areas and has paid for park regeneration schemes, anti-graffiti projects and youth clubs.

Amjad Bashir MEP, UKIP’s Communities spokesman, added “It is plainly right that criminals should have their cash and assets confiscated and to my mind it is also plainly right that all of that should come back to benefit the affected community.

“It should all be spent improving the lives of local people and not just disappear into government funds. We are talking of millions of pounds which would make a huge difference to our communities and help fund further investigations and prosecutions.

The Government is strengthening Proceeds of Crime Act powers under the Serious Crime Bill, which returns to the Lords on October 14.

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