People who fund their lifestyles by the proceeds of crime will be targeted in a new intelligence gathering campaign launched this week by Lothian and Borders Police.
‘Made from Crime’ is the first POCA (Proceeds of Crime Act) initiative of its kind in Scotland, and has the backing of both the Scottish Government and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.
The campaign was launched in Edinburgh by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC and Lothian and Borders Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone.
It is designed to make full use of the Proceeds of Crime Act, specific legislation that allows officers to seize assets that have been purchased through criminal activity.
For the first time in Lothian and Borders Police, people will be able to report their concerns online, anonymously if they wish, using facebook or via Bluetooth to link directly to the Crimestoppers website.
ACC Livingstone said: “The launch of this campaign sends out a strong message that Lothian and Borders Police will not tolerate criminals profiting from crime in our force area.
“We know there are people living beyond their means on the proceeds of crime, be it through the purchase of flash cars, designer clothes or expensive jewellery, and that communities are suffering from the side affects of drug dealing, violence and other associated crimes.
“I personally appeal to local communities who have any information to come forward immediately, either to Crimestoppers or to Lothian and Borders Police.
“Similarly, I would assure people who are trapped by those threatening them with violence or retribution, either associates or partners, that we will help them and tackle the violence and criminality they face.
“We will act on intelligence and bring offenders to justice.”
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill added: “Lothian and Borders Police, like Scotland’s other police forces, is taking the problem of dirty money obtained through criminal activity very seriously.
“Those who make a comfortable or cushy living from activities such as drug dealing are not only deceitful to hard working and honest members of the public, but are involved in despicable acts that cause great harm to our communities. They should simply not be able to evade the law.
“More than £41m has already been seized from crooks such as these through the Proceeds of Crime Act and through the Scottish Government’s Cashback initiative, we are seeing it reinvested in fantastic new community projects in Edinburgh, the Lothians and across Scotland.
“All of us have a role to play in tackling crime - whether it is by helping the police to identify those making a comfortable living from crime, or through respecting the law and refusing to provide custom to illegal activities.
“We have the legislation in place to seize criminals’ ill-gotten gains and ensure they are brought to justice. With the public’s help, our streets can be made safer.”
Solicitor General Lesley Thomson QC said: “We have vast powers available to us through the Proceeds of Crime legislation and I am delighted that this new initiative will allow people to use social media to report anonymously those who they see flaunting ill-gotten gains before them.
“COPFS will continue to take a robust approach to anyone who chooses to fund their lifestyle through crime - and we will use every power available to us as prosecutors to seize their assets and disrupt their activities.”
Kate Jackson from Crimestoppers said: “Crimestoppers is not interested in who you are, it’s what you know. In over 23 years, we have never broken our promise of anonymity so you needn’t fear passing information to us on 0800 555 111 or via the online form at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.”