A huge cost to the taxpayer with little to show
The Asset Recovery Unit an agency set up to seize criminals’ assets has cost taxpayers around Â£60m despite only recovering just over Â£8m from law breakers since 2003.
The ASUÂs website refers to its successes ÂWe have gained civil court orders to recover Â£4.4Â million of criminal assets (Â£0.3 million in NI). We have realised Â£4.1 million (Â£0.8 million inÂ NI) through disposals of houses, financial instruments and luxury items such as jewellery. We haveÂ assisted law enforcement partners in confiscating Â£7.2 million from convicted criminals and weÂ have issued a number of tax assessmentsÂ
However in 2004 the agency recovered vehicles worth just Â£5,000 – that was despite a 50% increaseÂ in its staff.
Director Jane Earl said she was disappointed with the results but the ARA had made life harder forÂ criminals.
“Our disruptive action where we have exceeded our targets is playing a big part in making theÂ general landscape much more difficult for criminals to operate in,” she said.
“We are disappointed that cases have not come to fruition as quickly as we had first hoped but we are clear that this is a long haul and we will continue to play a full part in recovering the proceeds of crime.”