I know that the law-abiding majority is often frustrated by a sense that criminals, particularly the ‘Mr Bigs’, operate with impunity, quite unmolested by the criminal justice system. But in Bedfordshire our force has a very good record of taking money, goods and property gained through crime, away from the offender.
‘Visible justice’ like this proves that criminals risk losing their ill-gotten gains as well as their liberty and encourages communities to come forward.
Just recently, the head of a criminal gang convicted of modern-day slavery charges was ordered to pay over £250,000, and do so within six months or face another three years in jail.
The Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, which tackles organised crime groups, now handles confiscations and asset seizures for the six forces in the region and in April a Bedfordshire man had assets totalling £291,976.14 seized following his conviction for drug offences.
This shows that crime just isn’t worth the risk and hopefully builds community confidence that criminals are being hit in the pocket.
Confiscation and compensation orders are powerful deterrents, which helps to keep us safe. They can’t, of course, eliminate the distress caused to victims but they can bring the satisfaction of knowing that the offender has not secured the advantage they expected from their crimes.
Added to that, a proportion of confiscated assets goes back to Bedfordshire Police to fund further crime fighting work.
Last week was national Neighbourhood Watch week and I would like to give a big and well deserved thank you to another highly successful crime deterrent: the NHW volunteers who are also helping make Bedfordshire a hostile environment for criminals.