More than £1million was stripped from criminals in Derbyshire during the last year under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The latest figures released by Derbyshire police show that between April 1, 2013 and the end of March 2014 almost £20,000 per week in cash and other assets were removed from offenders.
The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) gives police and other investigating agencies the power to take criminals to court to recover the wealth people have made by committing crime such as drug dealing or selling stolen property.
The act allows police to confiscate money from people at the crown court if they have been convicted of a criminal offence. Cash suspected of coming from crime, or for use in crime, can also be forfeited during a civil hearing at a magistrates’ court.
The latest figures released by Derbyshire police show that between April 1, 2013 and the end of March 2014 assets totalling £870,027 were confiscated at crown court in 57 separate cases under the act.
The biggest confiscation order involved a couple from the Amber Valley area, Thi Cuc Le and her husband Hong Hai Lam who were ordered to pay back £452,193 and both jailed for five years for running cannabis factories containing more than 400 plants at a house in Victoria Street, South Normanton as well as being linked to factories across four other counties.
Money confiscated by the crown court is shared between a central Home Office fund, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Court Services and the investigating agency, such as the police or Trading Standards. Cash forfeited by magistrates is split between the Government and the investigating agency.
Some of the initiatives the money has been put back into within Derbyshire include CCTV for the Pavilion Gardens in Buxton, Bradwell Youth Group, a five-a-side football project in Chesterfield and High Peak
Money also went into extra training and equipment for officers investigating this type of crime.
Detective Inspector Rob King, from the East Midlands Fraud and Financial Investigation Unit, said: “Every week tens of thousands of pounds are being removed from criminals.
“Some of this money comes back into Derbyshire and is used in the continued fight against crime and those profiting from criminal activity.
“Our message to offenders is clear – crime does not pay. We will pursue you through both the criminal courts and any assets you may have will be stripped from you.”
If you have information about someone who is enjoying the proceeds of crime, contact Derbyshire police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.