Millions In Seized Assets To Be Paid Back To Communities

A new pilot fund to give local people a direct say on how the ill-gotten gains of criminals can be used to benefit their communities in the fight against crime and antisocial behaviour was launched today by Home Secretary Alan Johnson.

The £4 million Community Cashback scheme will be funded by money and assets seized from wealthy criminal kingpins. The public will be able to choose which worthwhile community projects are funded by feeding in their views to a new dedicated website, neighbourhood policing meetings or through Citizens Panels.

Successful bids will have to show how the local community has been involved in selecting the project, demonstrate good value for money and be related in some way to tackling antisocial or criminal behaviour locally. This could include renovating a vandalised play area, investing in a youth centre or installing security measures on a housing estate.

Until now money recovered from criminals has been split between frontline services, such as the police and Government departments involved with the criminal justice system. This is the first time a portion of that money is being paid back into communities.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: "The Community Cashback fund will ensure a portion of the ill-gotten gains of criminals are ploughed back into communities at a grassroots level, funding the projects that the public decide will make the most positive difference to their lives.

"Seizing capital assets deprives criminals of money, reduces the incentive for crime and promotes fairness and confidence in the criminal justice system. But schemes like the Community Cashback fund are only successful if people use them. We are giving local people a stronger voice - I hope they will use it."

Justice Secretary, Jack Straw added: "I want people to have full confidence in the justice system and an important part of this is ensuring that justice is done and seen to be done.

The Community Cashback fund represents another step forward in what is a fundamental shift towards giving communities more of a say in how justice is delivered in their local neighbourhood."

Home Office figures, also published today, show the value of assets recovered from criminals this year has risen to an all time high of £148 million for 08/09. This is up from last year’s £136 million.

The figures also show that a total £23.6 million recovered between January and April 2009 will be paid back to frontline services, with a total £7million to be shared between all police forces in England and Wales.

The Community Cashback Fund is a pilot scheme for 09/10 - a decision will be made later in the financial year on how best to take this commitment forward.


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