31/03/2006

Minister welcomes new powers to combat organised crime

Security Minister Shaun Woodward has today said that the introduction of new powers to track the financial affairs of those convicted for organised crime, is vital in ensuring that those who attempt to continue to profit from criminal activity are stopped.

Welcoming the new powers, Shaun Woodward said: “Keeping track of the financial affairs of convicted criminals will be an invaluable tool in the fight against organised crime.

“From tomorrow the courts will have powers to make financial reporting orders against anyone convicted of offences including drug trafficking, money laundering, people and arms trafficking, counterfeiting and obtaining property, money or services by deception."

This will mean that offenders will be required to provide full details of all their financial affairs for a period of anything up to 20 years after conviction and anyone convicted and made subject to such an order could be required to provide police with regular reports of their bank statements and other financial records. Failure to do this could result in a prison sentence.

The Security Minister continued: “These powers will tackle those individuals who have long-term involvement in organised crime and whose finances will now be tracked and monitored for lengthy periods.”

Mr Woodward also highlighted common law powers, which are now being put on a statutory footing to help the investigation and prosecution of organised gangs when offenders give assistance to the authorities.

The Minister said: “When an offender wishes to break from their past and help the authorities the courts will now be able to take this into consideration. It offers help to anyone who genuinely wishes to look to the future, break from their past, and help society confront the criminal gangs.

He concluded by saying that existing case law already provides for defendants who plead guilty and co-operate with the prosecution of others and by putting these people on a statutory footing, shows the government's commitment to crack organised criminal gangs.

(EF/SP)

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